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The 19 Best Books On Mental Toughness To Unlock Your Inner Strength

Photo by Julia Revitt on Unsplash

Finding the best books on mental toughness will vary person to person. In some cases it’s a scientific analysis of what constitutes a mentally tough person, in other cases it is an anecdotal novel showing the hardship others have endured and how they coped with it. Whatever the book you are looking for, we have you covered.

These are the best books on mental toughness as suggested by people whose lives have been influenced by them. If you have read one of these and find it useful, why not upvote it to move it further up the list or comment your experience reading it.

#1 Life as Sport

Life as Sport, a book written by sports psychologist Dr. Jonathan Fader, is a phenomenal resource for anyone looking to improve performance either on or off of the field. Mental Toughness is covered in one of its chapters.

Dr. Fader has previously worked with the NY Mets and NY Giants organizations, in addition to co-founding Union Square Practice, a comprehensive psychiatry and Sports Psychology practice in Chelsea, NY. He shares stories, theories, and techniques that have been helpful to players, coaches, and executives in professional sports.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Flo Leighton MS, RN, PMHNP-BC

Company: unionsquarepractice.com

9 points
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#2 Achieving the Impossible

Lewis Pugh is an incredible person who has achieved the impossible time after time and explains what it takes to do this. He became the first person to swim across the North Pole in nothing but a pair of Speedos. He also attended Cambridge University and through sheer grit in the face of injury and overwhelming odds, managed to join the SAS on his third and final attempt.

This book is fantastic inspiration for anyone who would like to follow their own dreams and shows the importance of never giving up and persevering when all the odds are against you.

This book, along with Lewis’s environmental campaigns, have inspired me to follow my own dreams. I hold a BSc in Climate Change and an MA in Creative Writing and intend to use fiction to inform people about the need to act on climate change. In 2018, I was named as an Environmental Changemaker, following on from the UN Environment Young Champions of the Earth competition.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Ryan Mizzen

Company: ryanmizzen.com

5 points
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#3 Lachesis’ Allotment

Diana R.A. Morris' essay collection Lachesis' Allotment addresses the fortitude we all -- as Millennials, students, immigrants, friends, family, and professionals both aspiring and established -- must possess to wade through twenty-first-century waters. What's more, the collection was written by an author who juggles the three roles of author, editor, and educator, a testament to mental toughness in and of itself!

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Jessica Hatch

Company: dianaramorris.com

3 points
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#4 Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

This book is phenomenal at helping you cut away the “noise” in your life to realize that success, in whatever area you want, is all about you and your mindset and less about any other outside factor. I read it once, and loved it. So then I read it again, and flagged my favorite passages for later reference. It’s the only book that sits on my desk at all times because I like to refer to it in moments of weakness.

Interested in reading more about this author? 

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Contributor: Nick Glassett

Company: originleadership.com

2 points
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#5 The Invitation to Love: Recognizing the Gift Despite Pain, Fear, and Resistance

[This] book centers on the conversation of love and the barriers that may exist to love being actualized. That whole conversation centers on mental toughness.

The book is broken into three sections: Living in Your Truth, Perseverance, and Having a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible. Those three tenets not only organize the book, but I believe are the three tenets of mental toughness.

To live in your truth is to allow your internal compass to be your guide. When I allow my internal compass to guide me, I am never lost no matter how rough the terrain. To persevere is to acknowledge that the road is not easy, challenges are a part of the process, and sometimes resistance is the necessary mechanism to activate change. Finally, a healthy disregard for the impossible can serve as a reminder that this current circumstance of the present is temporary and with all things, time brings about change.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Darren Pierre, PhD

Company: theinvitationtolove.com

2 points
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#6 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

This is a book that I recommend to many of my patients especially emerging adults/college students. Amy's TED talk is amazing to hear, the difficulties she has endured and how she has pushed herself to be mentally strong.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Jessica Cline

Company: clinecounseling.com

2 points
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#7 Grit

This is another book that I recommend to patients, this book has a lot of scientific information in it but it is a hybrid of information and inspiration. This book helps to fill the holes for those that are lacking perseverance.

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Contributor: Jessica Cline

Company: clinecounseling.com

2 points
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#8 The Chimp Paradox

[This book] takes the reader on a very easily digestible journey on how our brain functions and why we react to certain things. It explains and introduces the idea of the chimp, the human and the computer (the different parts of our brains) and how to understand and manage our emotions and thoughts. An amazing book for introducing the idea of mindfulness and emotional agility!

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Contributor: Megan Nicola

Company: megannicola.co.uk

1 point
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#9 Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead And Win

Extreme Ownership is a powerful book about mental toughness. The authors, Navy SEALs, offer examples of mental toughness on the battlefield and show how those examples relate to business settings.

While you might expect them to suggest rigid rules and sticking to a pre-determined chain of command - they actually provide guidance for a flexible flow of decision making that accounts for the humans involved in the processes and reminds you of your ego's destructive power in making decisions. When you see how they apply tough principles on the battlefield in life and death situations, it seems like a no-brainer to apply the principles to profit and loss situations.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Rachel Honoway

Company: rustbuiltventures.com

1 point
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#10 Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving

Dr. John Ullmen (the book author) has profoundly changed my life where I was once negative and let others walk all over me and would be at their beckoning call. Professionally, I was unstoppable, but personally, I had a lot of problems and Dr. Ullmen really knows how to teach and I wrote him thanking him and he actually responded.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Melissa Meade

Company: melissaannmeade.com

1 point
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#11 Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission

[This book] covers the amazing rescue of US Prisoners of War in WWII from what is known as the Bataan Death March. My wife’s grandfather served in the war, but he made the decision to never speak a word of what transpired. On his deathbed, he gave the combination of his safe to my Father-In-Law and one of the items in the safe was a copy of this book with notes written all through the book from his fellow soldiers.

Turns out he led the rescue of over 500 men but felt it wasn’t appropriate to talk about it when he got home. I think I’ve read the book five times now, but always brings me back to not only appreciating how easy my generation has it but more so how incredibly tough the men of that generation were/are.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Bill Fish

Company: tuck.com

1 point
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#12 Supercharge Your Emotions to Win

In this thought-provoking book, Ben brings a practical action-oriented approach to discovering mental toughness, resilience, and personal fulfillment. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to bring positive change to your life right now!

Within these pages is your real-life guide to developing the skills you need to be mentally invincible. Ben shows you how to manage your emotions, develop mental toughness, and building the confidence you need to shape a better tomorrow. Start to unlock your potential today!

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Benjamin Halpern LCSW

Company: benjaminhalpern.com

1 point
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#13 Failing Forward

One of the biggest things that people struggle with in terms of resilience and mental toughness is that they internalize failure. They see it as a bad thing, but it's not. Failure is one of our biggest teachers and this book was instrumental in my life, helping me re-frame the role that failure plays in my life and whether or not I let it hold me back.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Ellyn Schinke, MS

Company: coachellyn.com

1 point
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#14 The Resilience Factor

This book written by Dr. Karen Reivich is one of the best when it comes to understanding how to be mentally tough. Dr. Reivich wrote this book based on her experiences in training the entire United States Military to as mentally fit as they are physically fit - it doesn't get tougher than that! She takes readers through cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, but it doesn't read like a textbook, her writing is approachable and easy to relate to.

I found this book to be evidence-based but easy to apply to my everyday life. She also talks about "thinking traps" which are common patterns of unhelpful thinking habits that trap us in pessimism and how to break out of these traps.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Emily Larson

Company: ipen-festival.com

1 point
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#15 Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck

Do you ever look at someone successful and get discouraged? They must have been born brilliant at public speaking or playing sports! Carol Dweck turns this premise on its head in one of the most important books I have read.

Having a growth mindset means one believes that intelligence is malleable and can be changed through hard work and perseverance. The message is simple at its core but has strong ripple effects - those great leaders you look up to weren't born that way, it took failure, learning and a load of mistakes to get to where they are today. The important thing is to learn from failure and realize that it doesn't define you.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Emily Larson

Company: ipen-festival.com

1 point
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#16 Flourish

Considered the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman brings science to our understanding of wellbeing. This book is a great read for anyone to help build their mental toughness backed by science.

Learn more about how to flourish with Martin Seligman at the World Positive Education Accelerator www.ipen-festival.com

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Contributor: Emily Larson

Company: ipen-festival.com

1 point
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#17 Daring Greatly

I feel like this book really handles the emotional piece of mental toughness. What I love about it is that it addresses the notion that mental toughness doesn't necessarily mean not feeling emotions. It's not necessarily that feeling insecurity and vulnerability are weakness.

As a shame and vulnerability researcher, Dr. Brown really gets to the crux of the notion that the people that can address and understand their insecurities and vulnerabilities are often the most resilient people, the people who can move through hardship and fear, the people that can really make moves in life.

She doesn't shy away from the notion that resilience and having a thick skin are important, but she also makes the important distinction that feeling shame, insecurity, and vulnerability are nothing if not human, and, in that sense, are crucial for developing emotional toughness and resilience.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Ellyn Schinke, MS

Company: coachellyn.com

1 point
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#18 Unbeatable Mind

This book is like the no-holds-barred, no-bullshit manual for mental toughness. But what I love about Mark Divine's approach to mental toughness, is that a) You can't argue with a decorated Navy Seal veteran, and b) he approaches grit and mental toughness from a holistic perspective. It's not just about mindset. It's about emotional control, physical control, mastery in your relationships, and having the proper, motivating why behind what you're pursuing.

Perhaps what I love most about this book is that it's not just a book. It's a philosophy and a framework that is elaborated upon in Mark Divine's Unbeatable Mind online training program for those that need the accountability and framework of a fully fleshed-out training program. Though I have not personally gone through this program, a good friend of mine has it and in so many ways, it transformed his life.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Ellyn Schinke, MS

Company: coachellyn.com

1 point
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#19 Rejection Reset

Rejection is perhaps where our mental toughness falters. Humans want connection. It's inherent within our biology and psychology. We want it in whatever form we can get it, and when we experience rejection, it's one of the biggest hits to one of our basic human needs.

This book navigates how to handle in rejection in a manner that can completely change a person's mindest around social interactions, inferiority and shame and for that reason, it's a crucial read when it comes to mental toughness.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Ellyn Schinke, MS

Company: coachellyn.com

1 point
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