Psychological resilience is the ability to cope mentally and emotionally with a crisis, or to return to pre-crisis status quickly.

Life may not come with a map, but everyone will experience twists and turns, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with more lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a serious illness.

Each change affects people differently, bringing a unique flood of thoughts, strong emotions and uncertainty.

Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful situations – in part thanks to resilience.

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

When you’re resilient, you basically have the upper hand on everyone else who isn’t as capable when facing adversity and setbacks.

But what are the habits that genuinely resilient people have in common, and can we learn something from them?

1) They’re optimistic

Yes, you read that right. Even when the storm clouds gather, genuinely resilient people believe the sun will eventually shine.

They, simply put, have and maintain a sunny outlook on life, even when met with adversity. They don’t let pessimism cloud their judgment and instead focus on the silver linings.

And how do they do this?

  • By consciously replacing negative thoughts they might have from time to time with positive affirmations.
  • They talk to themselves in a kind, encouraging way to boost their self-confidence and preserve a healthy self-image.
  • By lifting themselves up, they’re better equipped to face challenges head-on.

In media, this is commonly portrayed as a person talking themselves up in a mirror.

And while that’s one way of doing it, it doesn’t have to be as dramatic. It can simply mean you write uplifting, grateful, and affirming things in a journal.

This optimistic attitude not only helps them stay motivated but also inspires those around them to keep moving forward.

2) They have emotional intelligence

Resilient people know their own emotions well. They recognize what they’re feeling and why.

Not only that, but they’re good at understanding how other people feel.

This helps them connect with others more deeply because they can sense what others might be going through.

Instead of bottling up their emotions, they know how to express them in healthy ways. This emotional intelligence helps them navigate complex social and professional situations.

For example, effective leaders often have emotional intelligence. They gauge the morale of their team members.

If they sense that their team is feeling demotivated, they can take actions to boost morale and keep everyone engaged.

3) They set goals

Goals are like a roadmap for life. You know where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and, more or less, how much time you’ll need to arrive at the goal.

  • Resilient people set clear, achievable objectives for themselves.
  • These goals give them a sense of purpose and direction.
  • They don’t just drift through life like many people.
  • They have a vision of where they want to go and what they want to achieve.
  • This sense of purpose fuels their determination and resilience.

Even when things get tough, their goals serve as a motivating force, keeping them on track.

For example, a student aiming for a master’s degree sets goals like completing coursework, passing final exams, and defending a thesis.

These goals give a structured path to achieving their diploma.

4) They’re adaptable and embrace change

Resilient people are like chameleons.

They can change and adjust when needed.

They don’t cling stubbornly to one way of doing things.

Instead, they’re flexible and pivot when they need to. Just like Bezos pivoted his company (Amazon) from an online bookstore to an e-commerce giant, offering countless products.

So, whether it’s a change in plans or a shift in the environment, they roll with the punches. Without this adaptability, they’d give up, just like most people.

That’s to say that change doesn’t scare them. In fact, they welcome it. Resilient folks understand that change is a constant part of life’s journey.

When something new comes their way, they don’t resist. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

For instance, I changed careers many times. I always see it as an opportunity to learn new skills and explore my passions.

I sometimes go back to school, take on internships, or find mentors who are already successful at doing what I plan on doing.

But I also know how important it is to cope with stress.

5) They use humour as a coping mechanism

Humour is your secret weapon in tough times.

When life serves up challenges, you shouldn’t take everything too seriously. Instead, find humour in the situation.

I’m not saying you should make light of serious issues, but instead, find a way to ease tension and reduce stress.

Laughter is, therefore, a powerful antidote to misfortune. It helps us keep a positive perspective and go through difficulties more easily.

And that’s what genuinely resilient people do.