By | March 26, 2014

I believe most of us could use a little more toughness. I certainly could. No shame to admit I’m nowhere as tough as I would like to be. That’s a work in progress.

I started thinking about it back in October 2013 when I read this post at the Art of Manliness. This says it all: “Men in particular often confuse toughness with strength, thinking that being strong is automatically the same as being tough, when in fact the two are distinct qualities.”

By the same rule I always thought I couldn’t be tough, since I’m not strong. But that post has more: “Mental toughness boils down to how you respond to stress. Do you start to panic and lose control, or do you zero in on how you are going to overcome the difficulty?”


Wait. I realized I’m good at that. Specially at work. The world may be falling apart and I’m still able to keep focus and put myself together. I’ll also freak out later and have a bad night of sleep. But I power it through first.

So what’s mental toughness? According to Wikipedia: “Mental toughness – a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders – generally describes a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence.”

Well, so maybe general toughness actually starts at your mind. And that’s where I’m heading to. I agree with the original post, which states that toughness is a skill. And like any other skill it can be trained and enhanced.

So here are some of the things I’m trying in order to get tougher:

  • Push harder on physical training: Pushing a little harder every training session is a requirement to get better. But to get tough I’m actually trying to push much harder every time. I fail miserably  once in a while, but in general it works
  • Temperature comfort: Not hard to practice this one in Canada. I’m constantly colder than it would be comfortable. Either very cold for just a few minutes (like taking the dog outside for 2 minutes wearing only shorts and t-shirt at -20.oC) or just a little cold for a long time (keeping the house at 17.oC all day long). Late fall/early winter I was practicing spending up to 30 minutes on shorts and t-shirts sitting outside the house (between 2.oC and -3.oC)
  • Expose myself to social interaction: This is a big one for me. I’m not good with socialization so taking baby steps.
  • Fasting. I haven’t done that in a while since I’m trying to keep my current body weight, but fasting up to 24hrs (only water and unsweetened  tea and coffee allowed) is discomfortable and also good for your health.
  • Embrace the struggle. I’m trying to actually the enjoy any struggles as part of a learning process

Do you have any tips for me? Any thoughts on that?