12 mental resources that make us resilient

Photo by Andrei Dumitrescu on Unsplash.com

Photo by Andrei Dumitrescu on Unsplash.com

At school it was suggested to me that there were three basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. Now, people express them differently.  Rick Hanson (psychologist, author), says the three basic human needs are safety, satisfaction and connection.  Hanson links these and suggests it is our mental resources that aid in our survival. 

Basic needs
Hanson suggests that our ancestors satisfied their need for shelter by finding safety and their need for food by getting satisfaction. But what of our  social needs? This need is a critical one – requiring us to bond with others – a need that is important for our brains.

Needs are met by inner strengths. They are matched. We draw on these mental resources for resilience. Here are twelve that underpin our basic needs.


  • Compassion – demonstrating a sensitivity to the needs of others as well as a desire to help them
  • Grit – being tough and resourceful
  • Calm – demonstrating calmness and equanimity in the face of adversity/threats
  • Courage – able to protect and stand up for ourselves and others


  • Mindfulness – being present to the moment not daydreaming or being distracted
  • Gratitude – expressing appreciation for things as they are
  • Motivation – pursuing opportunities in the face of challenges
  • Aspiration – aiming for and achieving goals we aspire to


  • Learning – growing and developing strengths
  • Confidence – feeling a sense of being cared about, worthy and self-assured
  • Intimacy – knowing and known by others
  • Generosity – demonstrating a generosity of spirit through altruism, compassion and forgiveness

How do we develop these inner strengths? The answer lies in principles of neuroplasticity and brain science, but that is another post!

Hanson, Rick & Hanson, Forrest. 2018. How to hardwire resilience into your brain in Greater Good Magazine, 27 March 2018.

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