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What doesn’t kill makes us stronger: mental resilience.

Posted in Aging, Life & Love, and Relationships


While I was researching what makes a man happy for Monday’s post, I came across a list of the attributes that characterise mental strength. Something I know is a key part of aging successfully. Interestingly, the list was written, as “what mentally strong people don’t do” so was full of negatives that revealed positives. Which seemed counter-intuitive and something a poker player would consider ‘a tell’, if he was ever to face the writer over a poker table.

The list was interesting, so I thought it was worth sharing. I’ve reframed it – because I think ‘do’ rather than ‘don’t’ is a resilience in itself. What the list reveals is that mental strength boils down to tenacity, grit, optimism and an unfailing ability (as Forbes contributor David Williams puts it) to “fail up.”
1000732_550549218315263_291543197_nSo here we have it. What Mentally Robust Individuals DO:

  • Move on: see failure as an opportunity to improve. They take the lesson and forget the experience.
  • Keep their power: refuse to allow anyone to make them feel inferior or bad about what they are doing or thinking.
  • Know that they alone are in control of their mind and emotions. And understand difference between a response and a reaction.
  • Welcome change and challenge. They don’t take either personally – shit happens.
  • Know the only things they can control are their response and attitude.
  • Strive to be kind and fair – but stop at people pleasing.
  • Don’t seek confrontation but will navigate it, with grace, when it comes.
  • Look forward: no dwelling on the past, disappointments or glory days.
  • Make new mistakes: accepting responsibility for past behaviour and outcome.
  • Use self-reflection as a go-forward mechanism – recognise their part in a success or failure
  • Enjoy the accomplishments of others without resentment and are willing to work hard for their own.
  • Relish alone time. Using it to reflect, plan and recoup.
  • Are prepared to work and succeed on their merits in all things. They never cheat or take shortcuts.
  • Have staying power and celebrate their successes and achievements.
  • Understand genuine change takes time.

(The original list was compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker. She shared it on LifeHack. Thanks Amy for the reminder. Images found in the public domain)

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  1. This is fabulous. And I love the illustration at the top. So true. Great post!

    December 10, 2013
  2. I love this, I could use this post to pop up every day for me so I don’t forget these nuggets of wisdom. Although, I’ve also found success is a crazy word to define, so, in general, I just do the best I can at whatever point in life I’m at. Thanks so much for sharing.

    December 5, 2013
  3. Yes, love the arrow picture. Much of that list could come from a primer on Stoicism. And I am generally on board with that; tho’ recently I find myself dwelling rather over much upon the increasing NEED to behave as a Stoic. Because then it reminds me that Stoicism was invented, so to speak, by a slave. So, what does that say about a society with a growing need to BE stoic?

    December 4, 2013
  4. Oh I have a few people I need to send this to- very timely!

    December 4, 2013
  5. I love that pic with the arrows…. it’s so true 🙂

    December 4, 2013
  6. A very timely reminder to get me back on the path of mental strength. I fear it has eroded this year but tomorrow is another day…xx

    December 3, 2013

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