It may be a cliché to say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but it’s true.
People aren’t born resilient.
Those who keep their head high when facing hardship can do so because they’ve (unfortunately) had practice.
Navigating previous obstacles enabled them to develop efficient coping mechanisms and grow thicker skin.
On that note, people who overcome adversity usually share these 5 resilient traits.
Cultivating them will serve you well next time life throws you a curveball.
1) A positive mindset
Is it challenging to stay positive when the odds are stacked against you?
It’s also key if you want to keep going during tough times.
A positive mindset helps you bounce back from setbacks and navigate misery with a touch of grace.
My twenties were brutal – a haze of grief, bad decisions, and growing pains.
I became a cynic. And for a while, I considered this to be a strength.
Cynics don’t expect much from people.
You question their motives, and your life becomes a perpetual wait for the other shoe to drop.
If something good happens, you brace yourself for something terrible to follow.
If someone is nice to you, you’re sure they have a secret agenda.
I thought I was protecting myself. When you don’t have expectations, life can’t disappoint you.
In reality, I was making myself miserable.
Let me tell you a secret: deep down, I’m a marshmallow.
I think that good things do happen, that finding your tribe is essential for a happy life, and that others can surprise you.
I lost myself for a while there, but I’m finding my way back.
Now, in my mid-thirties, I’m cautiously optimistic, or at least I try to be.
Robert Frost was right; the best way out is always through.
The grief, the bad decisions, the growing pains made me who I am today. Someone wiser and kinder to herself and others.
It’s easy to be a cynic.
Maintaining your optimism in a world that seems hellbent on showing you its ugly colors every chance it gets?
That takes guts.
If you’ve met someone who overcame adversity, you were probably floored by their ability to adapt to change.
Resilient people are willing to explore new perspectives and consider alternative solutions.
They are flexible in their thinking, unlikely to stop when encountering a hop on the road, and calm under pressure.
Dealing with difficult experiences makes you understand that change is the only constant in life.
Your circumstances can shift in a single second.
Couples break up. Houses burn down. Dreams fall apart. Loved ones pass away.
Those who endure struggles are forced to realign their priorities and goals to fit a new reality.
Doing it once teaches you that you can do it again.
People who overcome adversity learn from experience not to give up easily.
If someone shuts a door in their face, they enter through a window.
Which brings me to my next point.
Ever wondered what sets resilient folks apart from those who throw in the towel at the first minor inconvenience?
The persistence to continue working towards a goal despite difficulties or repeated failures.
And, like all traits, you get better at it with practice.
People who overcome adversity realize they can maintain effort and focus over an extended period.
In turn, this makes them more confident in their capabilities.
More often than not, chasing a goal isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.
The problem is that, nowadays, many people expect to get results overnight.
It’s not so much their fault as it’s what we’ve become used to.
We live in the age of urgency and convenience, of next-day delivery and videos watched at double speed.
I saw a TikTok a few weeks ago of a young woman, likely in her early twenties, wondering how anyone can afford to decorate their homes given that everything is so expensive.
I was flabbergasted, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. She was expecting to do it in an instant.
It took me years to accumulate the furniture and décor I have now. To make my home cozy and welcoming.
When I was her age, I lived in a shabby studio and couldn’t even afford to buy sheets, let alone eye-catching wall art or quality kitchen utensils.
Most of the stuff I owned were hand-me-downs.
As I started to earn more, I managed to buy a blender here, a cute throw pillow there.
Decorating my apartment was so far from a sprint that it took about a decade.
Malcolm Gladwell says mastering a skill takes 10,000 hours.
Research found that developing a new habit takes more than two months.
Nothing worth having in life comes easy.
Perseverance is what pushes you closer and closer to the finish line.
4) A sense of purpose
Resilient individuals generally have a clear sense of purpose or a meaningful goal that guides their actions.
When you work towards something you’re excited about or are guided by a strong internal drive, you’re less likely to give up when you hit a snag.
The tricky part? The goals you chase have to be meaningful.
In other words, you have to do a bit of reflection and discover what you want to accomplish in the long term:
- Envision your dream life 5 or 10 years from now, and figure out what you can start working on today to make your dream come true
- Assess whether your goals contribute to your larger sense of purpose (if you’re passionate about the environment, for instance, going after a job with a company known as a huge polluter won’t improve your life satisfaction, no matter how well-paid)
- Consider your weaknesses to identify areas for improvement
- Examine your current priorities and see if you need to make changes to become that ideal future you (change careers, find a better job, develop a skill, exit a relationship, and so on)
- Look to individuals you admire for inspiration
Don’t know where to start?
Experiment with different goals and see how pursuing them makes you feel.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted for a while, so I strived for things society dictated I should covet.
Buying a home. Finding a partner. Securing a cushy 9-to-5 job.
However, I became frustrated and unmotivated as I tried to reach them.
It wasn’t because I was lazy, but simply because these goals didn’t matter to me all that much, at least not back then.
Once I understood how much I valued flexibility, I left my office job and started to work as a freelance content writer.
The responsibilities of homeownership still don’t appeal to me.
As for finding a partner, I wasn’t ready for any type of commitment back then.
(This has since changed; feel free to contact me if you love the TV show Fringe, don’t spend *all* your free time camping, and appreciate the company of dogs.)
For a goal to be meaningful, it must align with your authentic self.
Resilient individuals extend compassion to themselves, recognizing that all of us face setbacks.
Everyone deals with obstacles — even Beyoncé.
When they come your way, and you stumble, don’t judge yourself too harshly.
Instead, treat yourself with the same warmth you would offer a friend.
Aiming for excellence in all areas of life will only burn you out over time.
Humans are fallible and flawed.
Being stubborn enough to persist in spite of our imperfect nature is what makes us remarkable.
Whenever you fail at something, give yourself permission to spend a couple of days in bed, buried under the covers.
Curse the fact that you’re continually given the toughest battles.
Eat too much junk food.
Scream into the pillow.
Then, put on a smile and face life with confidence once more.
Getting back up after the universe punches you in the stomach is incredibly empowering.
Ride this high for a while.
Your luck is bound to change.