Be Tougher Than Your Life

A boxer demonstrating toughness in training
Mental toughness is a skill that can be developed.

Mental toughness is critical to achieving anything in life. It determines how well people respond to the many challenges of life. Mental toughness doesn’t happen by osmosis. People have a measure of it depending on the love and values that were instilled in them as children and the decisions they made when they reached an age of maturity. The beautiful thing about mental toughness is that it can be developed using discipline. In this article, I want to elaborate on three varying levels of mental toughness: inadequate, adequate, and surplus.

Inadequate is a level we are all familiar with. People on this level can’t cope with the emotional challenges of life. They accumulate a long backlog of unresolved issues that rule their life at a subconscious level. People on this level have developed harmful deep-seated beliefs that impair their inability to process new challenges. They feel daily challenges unusually hard and exceptional challenges—like losing a job or a romantic breakup—have an extremely destabilizing effect. People on this level are far from the best versions of themselves and tend to be a burden to those who are closest to them. I have certainly been on this level during seasons of my life. This level’s one redemptive quality is that it can be a catalyst for change. It can lead people to explore opportunities to remedy what isn’t quite right in their life. This has also been my experience. People on this level are not as tough as their lives.

Adequate is a much more desirable level. People on this level go through ups and downs like everybody else but are able to meet the majority of life’s challenges. They are functional human beings and accumulate relatively few unresolved issues. People on this level work stable jobs, contribute to society, and are a blessing to their family and friends. They have a solid level of self-confidence and have minimal fears about the future. While they are not the best version of themselves, they value personal growth and have experienced considerable development. People on this level are as tough as their lives.

People with surplus mental toughness are a minority of the population. They have an unwavering belief in themselves and are unmoved by whatever life throws at them. They look forward to the future and see every challenge as an opportunity. People on this level are a great blessing to others. Those around them are naturally attracted to them and gain energy by being in their presence. Happiness is the surplus value of mental toughness. People on this level are happy. The world seems to work for them, not the other way around. They put out the best version of themselves on a daily basis. People on this level are tougher than their lives.

Happiness is the surplus value of mental toughness.

The goal of self-help is to become tougher than your life. That’s my goal and that’s probably your goal if you’re reading this article. Mental toughness is not inborn, it’s acquired. And it’s acquired through a slow and arduous process of self-discipline. With time and effort, everyone can level up. And those on levels 2 and 3 can level down if they don’t take care.

All positive change starts with a simple resolution. Today let’s resolve to be tougher than our lives.

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