How to build your Mental Toughness

#1 Find Meaning

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Actively working on building your Mental Toughness increases mental health, well-being and performance. In a series of 15 short blogs, I’ll describe 15 elements that make you mentally strong. This is part 1: Find Meaning

Find meaning

If you find meaning or purpose in what you do, you can overcome any setback or situation. Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, found that all survivors of the concentration camps had one thing in common: meaning. He wrote the book Man’s Search For Meaning, and developed logo therapy, a way to help people find meaning. According to Frankl;

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

Meaning doesn’t only make us more resilient. According to Martin Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement, true happiness is found in the meaningful life. Happiness levels are positively correlated with a meaningful life.

‘He who has why to live can bear almost any how.’ Friedrich Nietzsche

However, finding meaning isn’t always easy and to find meaning, we sometimes have to perform tasks that don’t make us happy in the moment, but might give us meaning in the longer term. Our chasing of shallow happiness, might even be related to feelings of emptiness, or a life that lacks meaning. But once we find meaning, the commitment to our cause has no limits.

Finding meaning, purpose and fulfillment has been described as self-actualization by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his hierarchy of needs. Finding purpose has been further popularised by Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why.

Meaning gives you additional Mental Toughness to make any circumstance bearable in your life journey. To start the journey to find meaning, start asking yourself questions like:

  • What do I want my legacy to be?
  • What is my proudest moment in my career?
  • What’s my single piece of life advice?
  • Who do I admire and why?
  • What is bigger than me?
  • If I had one year left to live, what would I do in this world?

Somewhere along the intersection of the answers, you’ll start to find meaning. Think about whether you spend enough time where it matters most. Discuss what you’ve learned with a trusted person or a coach. Try to spend time in your life on what, in your experience, has given you meaning.

Questions to ask yourself when you stand in front of the mirror:

  • Did I do something meaningful?
  • Do I love what I do?
  • Do I contribute to something bigger?
  • What is my purpose?


Niels is a mental toughess coach and founder of He is passionate about bringing mental toughness to the world, one individual, family, school or company at the time. He authored a self-help guide Building Mental Toughness for adults and an illustrated children’s book; My Strong Mind

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