Tag Archives: stubbornness

The Case for Stubbornness

While calling someone a “mule” is usually considered to be a negative comment, psychological research shows that stubbornness is actually affiliated with a number of positive characteristics.

-Stubborn people know what they want and what they don’t want.
Just because a stubborn person isn’t easily swayed by opinions, or resists the path of pleasing others, does not mean they are self-centered. They may keep to their own path, and still be supportive of others.

-Stubborn people tend to be more decisive.
Stubborn people know what they want and tend to be more concise in decision making, and quick to the point.

-Stubborn people have fewer tendencies to give in or give up on their dreams.
They can use their stubbornness to persevere in all areas of life. If they go through a hard breakup, failed business plans, loss of a job, or bereavement, research shows that stubbornness may keep them going.

A study published in the clinical psychology journal International Psychogeriatrics showed that participants who were middle-aged and older, and were noted to be stubborn yet optimistic, across measures, had greater mental health. The results showed that the older, more stubborn individuals had a better mental outlook than even the younger people in the study, regardless of physical health status. The researchers concluded that a balance between acceptance of and grit to overcome adversities along with a positive attitude significantly contributes to mental health.

Obviously, what an individual is stubborn about is important. In the international study, participants who scored highest in both stubbornness and optimism endorsed the following statements:

  • The belief that their dreams are possible.
  • The belief that they have the power to make changes that benefit them.
  • The belief that their actions are guiding them somewhere better (self efficacy).
  • The belief that being their unique self is exactly who they are meant to be (self acceptance).
  • The belief that confidence comes from taking action.
  • The belief that they can grow and change from challenges.
  • The belief that challenges in all areas of life are teachers.
  • The belief that small steps in the right direction matter.
  • The belief that happiness comes from within, not from external sources.
  • The belief that even though they may experience fear, they will be okay.
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