Wikipedia defines “Antifragility” as “a property of systems in which they increase in capability to thrive as a result of stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures.”
The world is full of those things.
And so the personal and professional benefits of forging an antifragile mindset are countless — it includes not only the ability to endure pain, failure, stress, and distraction… but the ability to thrive in the midst of those things.
But how do you forge an antifragile mindset for yourself?
Here are five tips:
1. Get to Know Yourself
A big part of forging an antifragile mindset is knowing when to sit and when to stand — when to take up arms in defense of a belief or idea and when to sit down and listen. But if you don’t know who you are and what you care about, then you won’t be able to stand up when it counts and sit down when it doesn’t.
Journaling and meditation are two of the best ways to calm your mind, examine your core values, and get a better idea of what you really care about.
Ryan Dossey, real estate investor and the founder of Ballpoint Marketing and Call Porter, told me, “I journal every morning and one of my sections is on what I believe and why. If we don’t take the time to explore, question, and reinforce our beliefs… how can we expect to fight for them? I struggled with a fear of confrontation in the past and what I’ve learned is that it was actually an issue with not being fully grounded in my beliefs. Because of that, I didn’t know what was worth fighting for… and what wasn’t.”
2. Get Uncomfortable
By far the best way to forge a more resilient mindset is to intentionally put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Don’t like public speaking? Get on stage. Don’t like snakes? Hold one. Don’t like confrontation? Express your opinion more often.
The more that you do something that’s uncomfortable, the less uncomfortable it’ll become (surprise, surprise).
Psychiatrists and psychologists call this exposure therapy — and it’s extremely effective. Between 60% to 90% of people have no or mild symptoms of their anxiety disorder after completing exposure therapy (according to Healthline).
Cold showers, cold plunges, and exercise are all great methods for habituating yourself to discomfort so that you’re more resilient to life’s challenges.
3. Assume the Best
You might not think of it this way, but you’re assigning meaning to anything anyone says to you.
Sometimes the communication is clear and we know the exact intent of the messenger — other times we’re way off base. In the digital world we live in (where more communication happens online than offline), our assumptions are flawed more often than we’d probably like to believe.
So why not err on the positive side of life and assume the best? Give people the benefit of the doubt? Assume most people have good intentions?
As Richelle E. Goodrich once wrote, “We are going to make assumptions; that’s what humans do. Since most assumptions are flawed, err on the positive side. Always assume the best.”
It might seem naive. But it isn’t. In fact, it’s a dignified and respectable way to live life.
4. Stick to Your Side of the Street
I’ll never forget when I spoke with a friend of mine who was going through AA and forging a more antifragile mindset of his own. As he was confronting many of the problems in his life, this became his mantra: “I’m going to stick to my side of the street.” It was his way of saying that he’d only try to control the things that he could control — first and foremost, his response to certain situations.
It’s a good question to ask yourself. When you feel you’ve been wronged, when someone says something unkind, when you want to respond with bitterness and anger… ask yourself, “Is that my side of the street?”
It most certainly is not.
Stick to your side of the street.
5. Enjoy Failure, Embrace Pain, Accept Rejection
Life is full of failure, pain, and rejection. No matter what. In fact, those things are so fundamental to life that they’re not even worth worrying about. Think about that — they’re literally just a part of life. If you want to experience being a human, then you’re going to fail. You’re going to have pain. And you’re going to get rejected.
You’re going to feel all of it.
So why worry? Embrace the pain, accept rejection, and learn from your failures. The more you do, the more resilient you’ll become.