· By Kristen Scott Ndiaye

Traits of the most resilient people

It’s undeniable: Life is full of obstacles, challenges, and tragedy. Yet, it’s our ability to persist and continue forward, despite these adversities, that truly shape our lives and our level of happiness and well-being.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “resilient” as being “able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.” For example, you fail a test. You could view this as life-ending and spend the rest of your days mourning what could have been. Or you could decide that this failure isn’t going to stop you or define you. In fact, you could consider this failure a lesson about what you could improve and do differently going forward.

Yet, how do people do this? What traits do they embody that allow them to persist despite setbacks? In this article, we’re going to examine the three traits of resilient people.

1. Optimism

A 2020 study stated that, “to increase resilience one has to increase the positive and optimistic thoughts.” In fact, this study found a positive correlation between resilience and optimism when assessing 100 university students.

When met with a challenge or setback, an optimistic person thinks, “What can I do to overcome this?” as opposed to “Why is this happening to me?” This drives their motivation. Thus, instead of stopping in their tracks, they persist. They believe that if they continue forward rather than ruminating on what happened, they will succeed. 

2. Emotional Maturity

Research indicates that there is a significant difference in resiliency between individuals with high emotional maturity and individuals with low emotional maturity. Having more emotional maturity positively correlated with having higher resiliency. 

So, what does emotional maturity mean exactly? Emotional maturity refers to a person’s ability to manage their emotions through differing situations. 

Being an emotionally mature individual means you control your emotions, rather than the other way around. You understand how you feel, and you have healthy coping mechanisms that help you navigate negative and difficult emotions. You also know that how you are feeling isn’t necessarily factual, and you are able to take responsibility for your feelings. All of this helps you see a clearer picture regarding what’s going on in particular situations, as well as the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

3. Self-Directedness

Self-directedness means you can regulate and alter your behavior based on a set situation to align with your goals and values. A 2013 study even indicated positive correlations between resilience and self-directedness. 

Someone who is high in self-directedness is able to zoom out and focus on the broader goal, instead of focusing on how they feel due to a particular situation that is potentially blocking them from achieving their goal. They can change course and still achieve what they want, despite obstacles.

But There’s Good News…

With all of these traits, there are various ways you can improve them. As always, practice makes perfect. This might mean practicing daily gratitude to foster a more positive mindset, or journaling to understand your emotional reactions better. Find daily rituals that work for you and that help build your resilience muscle.

When it comes down to it, resilience isn’t a fixed trait. You have the power to change it, guiding you toward a higher quality of life and even greater happiness.