This Is the Real Secret to Being Mentally Tough

Where does resilience come from? Some people think it stems from a natural ability to let things bounce off yourself like rain on pavement—an innate quality some people are just born with. But, according to a recent piece from Inc., real mental toughness comes from living passionately.

To help prove her point, writer Jessica Stillman references a recent piece from New York Times columnist David Brooks, who argues that the best way to develop mental toughness is by living with purpose. That's especially true for young people, who often end up doing something they're just not passionate about, thus becoming apathetic and aloof.

"The people we admire for being resilient are not hard; they are ardent," Brooks writes. "They have a fervent commitment to some cause, some ideal or some relationship. That higher yearning enables them to withstand setbacks, pain and betrayal." Brooks explains that some of history's most influential people were able to overcome adversity because they believed in what they were doing. "If you really want people to be tough, make them idealistic for some cause, make them tender for some other person, make them committed to some worldview that puts today's temporary pain in the context of a larger hope," he says.

In a piece for the Greater Good Science Center, author Christine Carter echoes Brooks's theory, arguing that mental toughness comes from "the passion that drives us to persevere through even the toughest difficulties, not an abstract commitment to never giving up and always being perfect." In other words, if you notice yourself feeling defeated about something you're doing, well, maybe you should be doing something else entirely.

Gain a sense of purpose with a copy of How to Find Your Passion, and let us know if you think you're doing what you're meant to be doing.