This Saturday I am running my third Tough Mudder. A lot of my friends wonder why I would go through a race that involves jumping in an ice bath, getting shocked by electricity, and crawling through miles of mud–and pay for the privilege. However, the race itself is bigger than just attempting to prove something about physical fitness. It’s also about proving mental toughness. That is likely why the race emphasizes teamwork and finishing rather than actual race times. You have to be tough across the board to make it. Most people don’t even attempt it.
However, having a tough mentality isn’t just about a one time race. It’s important in life. It’s also important to be popular and successful. Life is tough at times. It throws out a lot of shit that can knock us off our feet. It can be any type of struggle. Even those of us who supposedly “have it together” aren’t immune to the struggles of life. There are times we want to give up. And, that doesn’t mean suicide. It means settling and being miserable.
I’ve noticed in my teaching and counseling experience that there are generally two types of people: those who fold during adversity and those who are competitive fighters. The folders never did too well in either school or their counseling progress. Those who had the toughness experienced the same struggles but had different results: they never gave up and generally succeeded. Even if they failed initially, they got up and tried again.
It’s not easy to get a tough attitude. And, it doesn’t mean you don’t have empathy or aren’t a cool person. It just means that you don’t give up and you’re a fighter. When life and institutions and people try to get you down, you stay strong and tough and stand up.
You don’t need to do a 12 mile mud run to prove it either. Toughness is really proven not in a race, but in the trenches of life. When adversity comes your way in life, having a tough mentality makes sure that you go right back at it…even tougher.