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Are you mentally tough? 5 key questions to ask yourself

Life is a contact sport.

And developing mental toughness is your best weapon for living a constructive, focused, and happy life.

Every day we’re challenged by people and circumstances that threaten to tear us down. These include difficult family relationships, disappointing romantic relationships, being surrounded by toxic people, health issues, existential crises and grief over loved ones.

But if you’re going through any of these problems, or something else in life, you’re not alone.

Everyone – including the most successful people on earth – are forced to deal with extreme challenges.

It goes without saying that life never goes to plan. But it’s not who faces what challenge which differentiates us, it’s how we deal with those challenges that determines our success and happiness.

Have you ever wondered why seemingly ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things? Why some people are more motivated? Calmer in stressful situations? Able to stare down their challenges and overcome adversity?

The answer is that they’re mentally tough.

What is mental toughness

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

We’ve all heard this saying at some point, and although it may sound like a cliche, it sums up what it means to be mentally tough really well.

Mental toughness is about being mentally ready for whatever challenge comes your way and persevering through the adversities you face.

But being mentally tough is more than just coping with problems as they arise. Mental toughness is a weapon people carry with them at all times and empowers them to be better equipped for life than most others.

The simple truth is that success and happiness in life require mental toughness and resilience. In fact, research is starting to reveal that your mental toughness plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, work and life.

Talent and intelligence will only get you so far. Mental toughness is the key attribute you need to possess to succeed in life.

And the best bit? Mental toughness and resilience can be developed deliberately and carefully by anyone – including you.

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But first, how mentally tough do you think you are right now?

Assessing your own mental toughness

Psychologists use a number of different resilience scales to assess how resilient their clients are. They all measure similar things to do with how you deal with the world and how you interact with it.

But you don’t need to see a psychologist to assess your own mental toughness.

I’ve put together a list of practical questions, using the various scales, my own knowledge of mental toughness and the approaches to mental toughness taught in eastern philosophy, to help you gauge how resilient you are.

These are questions for you to ask yourself to help you understand your own reactions and your levels of resilience to the challenges you face in life.

  • Are you generally a positive person? Do you tend to make a concerted effort to see the good in situations and in people?
  • Are you able to deal with stress well? Do you have strategies for dealing with stressful situations?
  • Are you comfortable asking for help from others, and talking about your emotions?
  • Do you have a clear set of goals for the future, and a plan in place for achieving them?
  • Do you feel you’re able to deal with new situations or unexpected changes well?

If you find that you often feel frustrated that you haven’t achieved all the things you want to, or you’re not at the place in life you could be, it might well be that your resilience (or lack of it) is the reason.

Because if you really want to be able to take the whole of life head-on, achieve everything you’re capable of and beat the self-doubt demons, mental toughness is a must.

But remember this.

There aren’t two categories of people: resilient and not. Most of us will find that our levels of resilience change over time.

Importantly, everyone can take active steps to increase their own resilience at any stage of their life.

How mental toughness helped me

A big part of my focus at Hack Spirit is creating content that helps people develop mental toughness and become more resilient.

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I do this because mental toughness is something I had to learn and practice over a number of years myself.

Like everyone, I’ve had times when I haven’t been resilient. Career setbacks, health issues and difficult relationships – these were things that I was tempted to put in the ‘too hard’ basket and let them derail my life.

However, I reached a point in my life when I realized I had to take responsibility for everything in my life and become mentally tougher.

Six years ago, I was a ridiculously average guy in my 20s who still lived at home. I worked in a warehouse lifting boxes by day, and lay on the sofa pitying myself by night. Life wasn’t working out as planned.

So I set about studying eastern philosophy and taking in the practical lessons that came from that. I’ve learned real, easy-to-action strategies that mean I’m now equipped to deal with whatever life throws at me.

Developing my mental toughness has allowed me to create one of the world’s leading blogs on practical psychology. Hack Spirit now has two million monthly readers and it’s growing bigger every month.

I wouldn’t be where I am today unless I took deliberate action to develop my mental toughness and become more resilient in the face of my challenges.

How will boosting your mental toughness help you?

3 traits of mental tough people

Studying eastern philosophy has taught me that there are 3 key traits of mentally tough people.

Although there are many different ways to be resilient, I believe mental toughness boils down to these 3 key things:

  • Having a generally positive outlook. Mentally tough people have experience of getting through difficulties, so they are confident that they can do so again. They see bad events as temporary, not permanent.
  • Being able to manage their emotions. They may feel things just as strongly as anyone else, but they can deal with those feelings.
  • Having clear goals and a plan for achieving them. They know that they can deal with challenges, and so they aren’t afraid to make plans for the future knowing they can deal with changes to those plans confidently.
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Once you begin to think of resilience-building as part of a strategy for life, as I do, it becomes something you weave into your life without even really thinking about it.

Being mentally tough is vital to being a happy, accomplished person and living well. Once you get this right, everything else tends to fall into place.

Introducing my new eBook on mental toughness

If you want a practical, down-to-earth guide to boosting your mental toughness, check out my new eBook The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness.

Now, the value of mental toughness isn’t exactly a secret. However, mental toughness and resilience aren’t traits we’re simply born with – they have to be learned and developed.

And this eBook will show you exactly how to do just that.

In this eBook, I demonstrate the key traits of 20 of history’s toughest people, show you how to discover what your current level of resilience really is, and – most importantly – provide 10 easy-to-follow resilience-building exercises so that you can boost your own mental toughness.

If you possess the discipline to consistently practice these exercises and embrace responsibility for the events in your life (i.e. stomp out any ‘victim mentality’), I guarantee you will:

  • Develop unshakable confidence
  • ​Be mentally equipped to tackle and conquer any challenge
  • ​Become emotionally ‘bulletproof’ in times of crisis, allowing you to successfully navigate the fallout until you arrive in a better place
  • ​Have the calm confidence to take more chances and finally embrace life.