Three Techniques The Army Uses To Toughen Soldiers Up

afghanistan marine security patrol

Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Timothy Solano

Via Annie Murphy Paul‘s very interesting article in Time:1) “Mental toughness comes from thinking like an optimist.”

The program’s key message: Mental toughness comes from thinking like an optimist. “People who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local and changeable,” notes Penn psychology professor Martin Seligman, describing the intervention in a recent journal article. When such individuals encounter adversity, they think to themselves: “It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.” Sergeants learn to analyse their beliefs and emotions about failure, and to avoid describing failure as permanent, pervasive and out of their control — all characterizations that undermine mental toughness.

2) “Resist “catastrophic thinking” — the tendency to assume the worst.”

Another pillar of psychological fortitude is the ability to resist “catastrophic thinking” — the tendency to assume the worst.

3) “Practice gratitude and generosity”

Lastly, the drill sergeants in Seligman’s program are taught two capacities that might seem at odds with mental toughness: gratitude and generosity. Participants learn how to “hunt for the good stuff” — to look for and appreciate the ways in which they are fortunate. And they learn not to judge too hastily subordinates who themselves seem to lack grit.

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