9 Habits of Resilient People

You are what you consciously do.

Who is the most resilient person, you know? What makes them so? Now, what do they do that makes them resilient?

Maybe you’ve been asked that first question before or asked yourself it. Perhaps you’ve answered it in quite a generic way. Most people I’ve posed that last question to reply in quite generic terms.

“Er, well, they just seem to be able to bounce back from stuff. They don’ let stuff bother them so much.”

“They are naturally optimistic, so it’s easier for them to bounce back; they are a real glass-half-full person.”

“They don’t seem to let failure bother them; it just kinda washes off them.”

What many of us don’t appreciate is the habits that resilient people have that help them be just that, resilient. Some of these are habits of thought; some are habits of action. Some may be automatic and innate, born our of their personality; some forged from conscious effort.

Whatever their origin, these are some of the habits that resilient people have.

Emotional Control

They make a habit of controlling their emotions. Our emotions can be both powerful allies or enemies. The difference is in the choice we make about if, when, and how to act on them.

We are emotional beings, always in a state of transition between one emotion and the next. What sets the resilient person apart is the control they have in how they choose to respond to a feeling.

Someone steals your car, you will feel angry, and that’s OK. It is still possible to still act with compassion, kindness, and moderation though,

You can feel embarrassment and still choose to stand proudly.

You can feel hurt and betrayed and choose to forgive.

It might be better to say that resilient people are better at controlling their responses to their emotions. We don’t get to choose our feelings; we do get to choose how we respond to that emotion.

Life Control

They make a habit of focusing on the things they can control and let go of what they can’t, what they can control amounts to two things and two things only: their mindset and their actions. That’s it. Having 100% control of your thoughts is impossible.

With practice, you can achieve a high level of thought-control, but what you can do with that is have total control of your mindset.


They make a habit of setting goals. Two types of goals. Big hairy goals or Outcome goals, the thing they want to achieve, and then smaller Process goals to get them there.

When Alex Honnold climbed El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes or other aids, he did it after years of preparation. He climbed the route dozens of times and executed every single move hundreds of times in his head. He broke his goal down into much smaller process goals.

The habit of goal setting and setting these two types of goals reduces anxiety and creates focus and a sense of control. It also buffers against stress, which is often our perception of being unable to cope and feeling out of control.


They develop the habit of managing their perception of life events and other’s behaviours. They understand that it’s not the thing itself that causes us stress but what we think about it. The meaning we attach to it.

To counter this, they reframe their challenges and stresses by asking better questions, such as:

How important is this on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is my death?

What do I want?

How can I think differently about this?

What is one thing I can to improve the situation?

Read S.U.M.O by Paul McGee for more ideas on that.

And don’ forget what Wayne Dyer said,

“If you change the way you look at things, what you look at changes.”


They get into the habit of thinking optimistically.

Martin Seligman, is called the father of positive psychology, and he discovered that people who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local, and changeable. (“It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.”) That suggested we might immunise people against learned helplessness, against depression and anxiety, and against giving up after failure: by teaching them to think like optimists.


They make a habit of keeping a journal. The habit of journaling has multiple benefits. Almost every single person who has achieved great things has kept a journal. Alex Honnold wrote notes and drawings after every climb to help overcome the problems and reinforce his confidence.

The night I was made unemployed as a single Dad with two kids and a mortgage to pay, I took a piece of paper and drew a line down the middle. On the left, I wrote down all the worst things that might happen. On the right, all the potential positive things that might happen.

That simple task of writing them down allowed me to go to bed that night and sleep soundly. Why? It gave me a perception of control. Writing works. Try it.


They have the habit of accepting responsibility and accountability for their outcomes or at the very least for their responses to adversity.

There is something both scary and immensely liberating about choosing to accept responsibility for where you are. It frees you to make better choices. it puts you in control, not someone else, not random circumstances. Just you.

Every moment you make finding and talking about excuses is a lost moment on the progress you could be making.


They develop the habit of spending time visualising.

This is a powerful tool that most people fail to use or make time for. We are too busy being busy to stop and make full use of our minds.

From Ansel Adams to Conor McGregor, from Mohammed Ali to Victoria Beckam, from Ray Floyd to Budda. Every person who achieved anything of significance and overcame adversity spent time visualising.


They make a habit of reading and learning. They continually look to develop themselves and draw inspiration and resilience from that. Reading a well-written novel will transport you into a new dimension allowing you time to recover from the mental and physical stress you feel.

Reading for knowledge means you are better equipped for the challenges you face. But you know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

How to develop a habit

I’m not the best person to tell you about habits, James Clear is. Start with his article on How to build a new habit.

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Helping people use mental fitness for a great life. Author of Mental Toughness Metaphors — Stories to inspire resilience anthony@threefifty9.com

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