Toughness: Is It In You?

Toughness is a word bandied about a lot. But what is it? As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, toughness is  being able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking (which is also the definition of my first name Kente’); strong and resilient. Toughness is also defined as being aggressive; pugnacious. Seems to me that toughness these days is nothing more than comparing resumes, overtalking someone else, name-calling and throwing around big, politically-correct words, followed by a fistfight. That is not toughness. Toughness, at least my definition of it, is simply an attitude of resilience. Not giving up on anything or anyone. Nowadays, it looks like everything and everyone is disposable like a paper cup or plastic silverware. We have recreational dating, we have all kinds of things that are strictly for fun. We literally have entire industries based on the flippancy of people. It is 2014, and look at how weak everyone has become. In our “progressive” world, we have modern families, we have everything that is top-shelf. Toughness is not promoted. Why? Toughness is sorely needed. Comedian Chris Rock recently stated that “kids need bullying”. Why on earth would he say that? In my estimation, he was referring to the toughness created by dealing with people who hate you and decide to mistreat you. Life is not fair. The attempts by the popular culture and the political class to “level the playing field” is ludicrous at best. Life is tough. It does not stop. Time doesn’t stop going. So I ask you all who are reading- is toughness part of you? How many of you have beat a drug problem? Or stopped drinking? This past week made three years for me being sober. I do not miss drinking. At first, I would fight the temptation not to drink. As time went on, it went away.

Toughness is an attitude. And attitude is everything. By toughness, I don’t mean living like an outlaw, destroying everything in your path. Take me for instance. I am an Army vet. I stand 5-11, weigh 238 lbs. I am a guy who likes to fight, military history, etc. Some of the toughest people I have seen were women who didn’t raise their voices or their hands to anyone. I sat and listened to their life experiences, their wisdom. They talked to me in a very soft voice. Old ladies. Tougher than a “two-dollar steak”, as the old saying goes. I am a big believer in what is called “self-talk”. Self-talk is what you say to yourself. Lots of people think that talking to yourself is some sign of inherent mental illness. That perception couldn’t be further from the truth. People tend to believe what the world says about them more than what they believe about themselves. It is a sad sight to see, a person who is a doormat. People who believe lies about themselves. As you all know, I am not a man who is afraid or ashamed to talk about himself. I battled fear, doubt, insecurity, depression, anger and angst for years. A lot of my “issues” came from my self-talk. The more you dwell on the negatives in your life, the weaker you become. Mentally weakened people are not tough. You see it in sports, like in a football game. One team may be stronger, more athletic, more well-like by people in general. The other team may be despised and a “gaggle of hooligans”. The less talented team wins with ease. Why? Mental toughness. One team will bring confidence, swagger and the will to win that crushes the other team. Such how it is in life. People must understand that no amount of knowledge, no adherence or compliance with the popular opinion on “social issues” will help you win in life. The issue of toughness is all about being able to endure hardship, as life is all about loss, pain and being able to withstand it without being destroyed by it.

In closing, I am living proof that life doesn’t have to be a series of losses, or whatever you are fearing. People fear conflict so much they will concede to anything that guarantees ease, peace, tranquility. It is imperative to develop toughness. But how do you develop toughness? In my succinct opinionation of it all, it is to realize that nobody owes you anything. Nobody is responsible for you eating, nobody has to help you. It is all about taking personal responsibility for your life. Using self-control, discipline and never giving up on your hopes, dreams and goals is essential to developing toughness, mental toughness I should say. Physical toughness and strength is also something that has to be developed through calisthenics (push-ups, sit-ups, running), weight-training, stuff like that. I would rather have a weak body than a weak mind. In summation, toughness is something that is developed. No one can do it for you (most folks will assist you in your demise). It is all about your level of pride in yourself, the level of determination to achieve and succeed in life. Never allow life to crush you. Life in my eyes is nothing more than a long, drawn out war. Conquer life or it will conquer you.

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