How to become more resilient, according to the research

This tree is surviving on a rock, proof of the resilience of life.

(CNN)As the pandemic stretches on, our collective ability to weather adversities and bounce back to emotional stability is being challenged daily. Many of us have suffered significant trauma from illness, hospitalization and death. Many more have experienced job loss, economic uncertainly and financial instability. And everyone has had to cope with an unprecedented uprooting of social and emotional support networks.

Are we, as human beings, built to withstand such pressures?
Decades of research says the answer is "yes," said psychiatrist Dr. Dennis Charney, who is the dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and coauthor of "Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges."
    And if we aren't quite up to it yet, he said, we can learn to be.
      Dr. Dennis Charney, who is the dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
      Charney and coauthor Dr. Steven Southwick, a professor emeritus of psychiatry, PTSD and resilience at Yale School of Medicine, have spent years analyzing people who have suffered intense trauma, such as rapCharney also knows about resilience from personal experience. He joined the ranks of the traumatized in 2016 when a disgruntled ex-employee shot him as he left a bagel shop early one morning. The shotgun blast entered his right side, puncturing his lung and liver and sending him into a prolonged recovery.
      "I still have 15 pellets in me," Charney said. "And since I had studied resilience, I started to think during my recovery, 'Well, now we're gonna find out if I'm resilient.' And I discovered a lot of the tools and traits we found in our research held up and made a difference for me."
      Here are some of the top traits and behaviors resilient people used to survive the worst life had to throw at them -- and thrive.

        1. Strive to be positive

        Being an optimist is a key trait of those who are resilient, Charney said, but this is not some rosy, "I can do anything," type of positivity. Instead, strive to be a "realistic optimist."
        "Realistic optimists pay close attention to negative information about the problems they face. However, unlike a pessimist, these people do not remain focused on the negative," Charney said. "They cut their losses and move on to what they can solve."

        2. Learn from your challenges

        Science has found that there are genes for optimism and resilience, but "genes are not destiny," Charney said.
        "Some people do have the capacity to handle stress better than others, but experience is important," he said. "Even though you may not have faced the exact challenge that is in front of you now, by having other challenges in your life in which you have been successful, you can use that experience in dealing with your present traumatic situation."
        This important trait can be taught -- to both adults and children, he emphasized.