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  • Tate Anagnos

The Resilience of the Human Body.

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Many people have very little of an idea about what their bodies can do, especially millennials. In the most authentic sense of the word, the human body is the pinnacle of all life on Earth. What is apparent to us individually, in terms of the extent of what we can achieve physically and mentally, is usually very minimal.


There are the body parts that we can move and are fully aware of like our extremities, facial features, or voluntary organs. But beyond that is a whole network of complex systems and sub-systems that we are, for the most part, unaware. These systems work around the clock, under the radar of our conscious mind to keep us constantly ready for the ups and downs of everyday life.


The Extent

Most people do not know the extent of their bodies; most have never exerted so much energy that you literally cannot go anymore or legitimately had a mental breakdown. This is not to say that if you've never pushed yourself to absolute exhaustion you're somehow worse than people who have, because that is not the case. However, failure, the kind that truly debilitates, is what separates the successful from the not successful. We all have experienced real failure at some point in our lives; because of it, we have either subconsciously decided to expect future mishaps or let them up-root us every time they happen, losing the courage to progress.


Physical

I would always rather think through a problem, but overall, to me, physical work is easier. Likewise, any normally healthy person can get a low-hourly-wage job. But fixating on what we can all do is never that productive, we need to focus on what people can't, or better yet, won't do. The physical resilience of the human body is genuinely demonstrated by marathon runners. Particularly the "ultra-endurance" events (yes, they are as bad as it sounds). Participants of the Ironman Marathon swim 2.5 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run 26 miles, all within ONE DAY. 72,000 people participate in these Ironman Marathons each year. Even though most competitors are younger than middle-aged, there are several that spill over into 60, 70, and even 80 year old age groups. If that is not the extent of human resilience, it is damn sure close. A BBC article about ultra athletes older than 60, displays the results of several medical tests done to ultra-athletes during and after a race. One of these experiments found that on average, the brain of a participant will temporarily shrink as much as 6% to fuel the rest of their body. Our bodies know when we have a goal and change accordingly. Besides being able to push yourself through an event like this, there are more passive examples of how tough we are.

Example 2: In 2008, Brook Zepp, a 63-year-old woman, was given six months to live, due to a tumor wrapped around her aorta. The 15 hour surgery that had never been done before, removed and replaced 6 of her organs, successfully cutting out the cancer. Some of the time, in single organ removal surgery, the organ doesn't even have to be replaced. We can live without the spleen, stomach, gallbladder, liver, appendix, kidney, etc. It shows that the body is built to take a hit, adapt, and keep progressing without us even thinking about it.


Mental

We all have resilience, what separates us is how much. How well can you cope with stress? Do you dwell on problems and let them deconstruct you? Almost anyone would choose to endure physical pain if it meant not feeling the emotional pain of losing a loved one or some other horrible tragedy. This is an extent of mental resilience; losing everything, or believing you lost everything and then bouncing back. Because in reality, after such a tragedy, even though it may seem like it's not worth living or being alone, you always have that chance to keep progressing and make yourself better. It can be seen with victims of attacks like 9/11 or a natural disaster giving aid to other victims. They have the mental capacity to not only endure an event like that, but help those who have a harder time doing so. Everyone has this mental capacity, but it can only be tapped into if you force yourself to see over the fog of grief and societal constraints.


Whatever problems you have, whatever you deal with that is difficult or uncomfortable to do, human-kind has experienced that, and infinitely harder tasks. There were and are people that overcome problems that most of us could not even fathom. This is not meant to discourage, in fact, it is meant to do the exact opposite. If you have a human body, which, if you are reading this odds are you do, the tools are already in your possession. It is just a matter of resilience.

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