mental strength

The Neuroscience Behind Mental Toughness

No matter what you do or where you are in life, mental resilience can help you be your best possible self. It can help you be a better parent, a stronger athlete, a more productive employee or a more effective leader. In fact, mental resilience is one of the key traits of powerful leadership.

Being a pro at what you do and being the best you can possibly be isn’t the product of intelligence or talent. It’s all about your mindset, and how mentally tough you are.

Mental resilience is a skill that you can develop. Science tells us that there are several ways to train your brain into becoming mentally tough. Read on to discover the science of growing your mental grit.

Strong purpose breeds mental toughness

Studies have found that people with clear-cut goals and a strong purpose tended to be mentally tough.

The clarity of their goals and their passion for making a difference keeps them motivated. Their strong sense of purpose increases their determination and resolve.

Having a strong purpose helps the brain form neural pathways for the habits and behaviors that enforce that purpose.


Consistency builds mental muscle because the brain is just like a physical muscle. The more you exercise it consistently, the more resilient you become.

What makes a professional athlete successful? It’s consistency. Theystick to their training schedule and never miss a session. They stick to a healthy diet and have a consistently healthy lifestyle. They are consistent in their purpose and passion to achieve.

A productive employee stands out and gets ahead with consistency.They areconsistent in turning in outstanding work, meeting deadlines and communicating with team members.

Likewise, practicing mental resilience consistently tells your brain that it’s something important to you. Again, your brain will guide your behavior and thoughts to enforce resilience.

Defining what it means for you

Mentally tough people are able to hone in on what mental resilience matters for them. For example, they want to be better parents. For them, mental resilience means not backing down, being firm with discipline and meting out “tough love” when it’s needed.

For a team manager, resilience may mean being able to make timely decisions, manage risks in times of crisis and never take shortcuts.

Defining what mental resilience means for you helps you and your brain be more aware of specific situations in which you need to exercise it.

Once mental resilience becomes an ingrained habit, it will come naturally and serve you well in all situations. But starting out by intentionally practicing on your specific needs will train your brain faster.

Mental resilience is built through small gains

Neuroplasticity is the science of teaching your brain new things. When you want your brain to form a new habit, the best way to do it is through small gains. The sense of achievement and mastery will flood your brain with positive emotions, telling it that this is something that is good for you.

With each small gain, your brain will start forging a new habit by creating a neural pathway. Each time the experience is repeated, the pathway is strengthened and finally, becomes permanent. Mental resilience has become part of your ingrained qualifies!


Sometimes, our understanding of what it is to be mentally resistant can be misleading. We tend to associate it with traits that are in themselves great to have, yet not necessary for mental toughness.

Motivation and passion are important for building mental muscle but let’s be honest – nobody is inspired and on fire every single day. Even highly resilient people have their off days.

Talent and intelligence are wonderful to have but not everyone is born with them. Thankfully, they are not necessary for building mental resilience.

Mental resilience is a mindset that anyone can gain. It is a series of habits that you can teach your brain through neuroplasticity. And they all come together to build mental muscle.

The great news is that our brains love learning. They love being stimulated and challenged. All you need to do to build your mental resilience is to feed your brain with the right thoughts and information. Do this consistently and the amazing transformation will begin.