What do you want to know? Whatever you feel like telling me. I think about my response for a minute. She had this really quirky sense of humor. For her birthday, she always tried to ask for something weird. The stranger and harder to find, the better. Shopping was always my thing and she was always trying to stump me. It was like a tradition. RESOURCE RESILIENCE BOOSTER #6 When I was fourteen, I spray-painted my name in big red letters on the water tower near my house and was then shipped to the western United States to live with my grandparents. Up to that point in my life, I had never been grounded, given a chore, had a curfew, or been accountable for anything at all. Needless to say, my old-school grandfather had his work cut out for him when I arrived on his doorstep, and he immediately threw me into his world of structure, rules, and hard work. Talk about culture shock! It was winter, and the storms were fierce that year. My grandpa told me it was my job to keep the walks shoveled. He owned a snow blower, and I asked him to get it out for me, but he said, No, Christian, you need to learn to work. So every day, I spent a couple of hours shoveling those walks. How I hated it! It was from a company called 23andme, and the subject line said, Your reports are ready. It was only a few months ago when the young neurohacker suggested that I should have my DNA analyzed.

The next day, I had logged on to the company's website and paid just over L100. A few weeks later, I received a small plastic vial that I filled up with my own spit and sent off to a lab in the Netherlands for analysis. I opened the report and clicked on ancestry. A multi-colored wheel appeared, illustrating my DNA. I clicked on health conditions, and a long list of horrible diseases popped up: breast and ovarian cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, heart disease. There were stars next to each of them. My heart sunk. I had a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's? He smiles, but doesn't say anything. I keep talking. I don't remember how it started. Last year, she wanted socks with pictures of socks on them. She thought the idea of those socks was hysterically funny. Socks with socks. She collapsed with giggles every time she said the phrase. Miranda had a great laugh. It was infectious. It was so silly, but the memory makes me smile. When the weather was good, Grandpa would have me doing other jobs like scrubbing down his truck and meticulously mowing the lawn. He sat me down a hundred different times and would say, Christian, the greatest privilege, the greatest opportunity, the thing that will bring you the most happiness is the ability to work.

Work is a gift. Repeatedly, he'd try to get it through my thick skull that the ability to work at something, to produce something, is the greatest happiness and gift available to me. Needless to say, it was a lesson that took me a while to learn. I'd whine and complain and be rude to my grandpa, but he was amazingly patient with me. He'd say, Okay, Christian, we're going to go fishing, but first we've got to rip up this tree stump. And since I wanted to go fishing, I'd agree. Fishing didn't happen, however, since it was dark by the time we hauled that stump out, eight hours later. As difficult as it was, I believe with all my heart that those years with my grandparents saved me. Heart disease? Parkinson's? felt as though I had just read my death warrant. was seized by images of a sudden heart attack, or an older me shaking in a chair or wandering lost around a neighborhood. had spent the morning reading the Dharmapada, learning that life was an impermanent flux and that death was part of the process of life. Yes, everything was impermanent, but I was terrified. Carl, May 22 I was in the car. The station house was slowly disappearing in my rearview window. I passed one of my roommates on the road, walking toward the bus stop. When she was younger, she and Mom used to giggle hysterically over stupid jokes like Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide.

They looked so much alike, with blond curls and big blue eyes, and when they were together they even acted alike -- laughing at the same jokes and singing out loud to the same songs on the radio. Did she get them? I blink away the memory of my mom and Miranda singing Baby Beluga at the top of their lungs. Did she ever get the socks with socks? they're hard to find. was going to try again this year. My voice trails off and we both think about why it wouldn't matter now. take a lot of pride in giving perfect gifts. was there I learned, for the first time ever, that being productive boosted my resilience. grandfather's philosophy was reflected in these words from Teddy Roosevelt: Far and away the best prize life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. I also love the words of advice from a judge who frequently dealt with youth offenders in the 1950s: Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork . Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through . The world does not owe you a living . You owe it your time and your energy and your talents. One of the best ways I know of to increase my resilience is to get and stay productive. The opposite of this is what I call a stagnant state. Being stagnant is a resilience killer. I would probably never see him again. I was on the highway now.

Driving slowly. No radio, no music. Just silence. To listen to the silence, wherever you are, is an easy and direct way of becoming present, Tolle wrote. The weekend had left me emotionally overwhelmed. There had been so much pain. I never went up to sit in that chair. I felt like I had nothing to say. And Miranda's gift challenges were the only times she actually appreciated my talent. On birthdays and Christmas, it was okay for me to be the master shopper. She didn't turn up her nose at how much effort I spent on shopping. I could always eventually find the right thing for each individual. Like the things in my closet. Luis turns off the two-lane highway onto a gravel path that leads back into the woods. A clearing comes into view and I realize I'm holding my breath. He pulls up beside a low iron fence and turns off the van. The oak trees are big and old, with many limbs already bare from the first cool weather of fall. Gray moss hangs from low-lying branches and blows softly in the wind. When I'm bored, apathetic, focus on what's wrong, or am highly judgmental, I am more susceptible to negativity. I'm worried about what other people are doing, I'm more insecure, and I'm definitely less resilient.