6 Habits That Build Mental Toughness


6 Habits That Build Mental Toughness

Peloton instructor Logan Aldridge shares his tricks for persevering, no matter what challenges you’re facing.

By Dana Meltzer ZepedaJuly 6, 2022

Sometimes, staying motivated and focused on your goals can feel emotionally challenging, especially when life throws you a curveball. With the right mindset, however, it becomes easier to persevere under stress or pressure. Peloton’s first adaptive instructor, Logan Aldridge, who lost his arm in a wakeboarding accident at 13, weighs in with his top strategies for building mental strength, so you can keep thriving even when times get tough.

1. Focus on the positive.

Mental toughness is about so much more than gritting your teeth whenever things get hard. It's also about looking for ways to overcome those difficulties. “As an adaptive athlete and coach, I have a unique perspective and approach to any obstacle or challenge. I am aware of a problem but recognize the solutions,” Logan says. “When there are reasons to complain, I prefer to smile. When it comes down to it, attitude is everything. If we can have this perspective, our potential is truly endless and growth is inevitable in all aspects of life.”

2. Try something new.

Regardless of your circumstances, it's never too late to dive into a new hobby, ability, or exercise discipline. “Acquiring new skills helps develop a sense of mastery and competence,” Logan explains. “For example, after I lost my arm, I focused on acquiring the skill to write with my non-dominant hand and developing dexterity, range of motion and strength through shuffling cards and rolling Chinese Baoding balls. These skills seemed minuscule in the moment, but monumental in the development of my mental framework for what I may be able to accomplish in the future.”

3. Practice acceptance.

Coming to terms with the truth isn’t always easy. But learning to accept the hand you’ve been dealt in life—even if it isn't what you had envisioned—is an important step towards becoming your best self. “Get to the truth and deal with it,” Logan says. “My arm was never going to come back. I will be this way for the rest of my life. I did not want to put false hope into thinking that a prosthetic limb would replace my arm. Instead, I wanted to accept the reality of this situation and own it.”

So, Logan resolved to turn his life around. “I decided losing my arm was going to be the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says. “I was determined to use this unforeseen experience as a catalyst to learning more about myself and growing into the person I wanted to become.”

4. Keep your perspective.

It may feel like your life is ending if you've suffered a traumatic event or you've been sidelined by a major injury, but it always helps to look at the bigger picture. “See it as it is, not worse than it is,” Logan says. “When my arm was amputated, my life wasn't over, although in traumatic, life-altering moments, the mind will try to evaluate the situation and adopt a mentality of 'learned helplessness.' This means the tragedy was unforeseen, so the mind assumes all future events may be unforeseen and traumatic.”

But you might find some much-needed perspective, he adds, when you consider what’s actually true about your situation. “Seeing it as it is—not worse than it is—allows acceptance of the hard facts without exaggerating the truth with emotions.”

5. Find a role model.

Emulating somebody you admire is a great way to maintain a positive mindset. After all, if they overcame similar challenges, why can't you? “You are not alone,” Logan says. “Find a role model and learn their strategy. See how they moved through and past it. [Surfer] Bethany Hamilton reached out to me while I was in the hospital, and I was able to develop a friendship with her and learn her approach to life with one arm. I also relearned how to surf and taught her how to wakeboard!”

6. Give back to the community.

Paying it forward helps others, but it can also improve your mood, mindset, and entire outlook on life. “Give more than you expect to receive,” Logan says. “Do the unexpected. Focus on ways to exceed others' expectations. Be the role model, mentor, shoulder-to-lean-on for someone else. Selfless acts are contagious.”

Logan likes to give back by showing others, especially those with disabilities, that they’re far more capable than they know or believe. “I encourage you to never accept the expectations of others,” he adds. “Instead, strive to exceed them and do the unexpected.”