Suffering, Physical & Mental Toughness, and Letting Go of 2016


I’ve been wanting to start a blog, but – being an imperfect perfectionist – I’ve been putting it off because I wanted to develop exactly the right theme, appearance, content, etc. 

If I keep doing that, it will never happen. I’ve accepted that it will not be perfect, or even perhaps very cohesive in the beginning. It will develop and expand and eventually be organized and useful to other people. And maybe by then I’ll have readers. 🙂

For now, I just need to begin. So …

I am typically a very positive person. But 2016 has been a bit trying, and I haven’t always dealt with it as gracefully as I would like.

As the year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about suffering and loneliness and physical and mental toughness, about making choices and creating the lives we want for ourselves.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all going to suffer throughout life anyway, so we might as well get REALLY good at it and keep moving. That IS mental toughness – becoming adept at suffering and still doing what you have to do.

This was driven home to me by a quote, featured in Tim Ferriss‘ new book Tools of Titans (I think – I haven’t actually gotten the book yet; I’ve just been reading about it.) From World’s Toughest Mudder champion Amelia Boone:

“I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. But I’m really good at suffering.”

It’s a lesson I definitely learned from my mother in various ways – both in direct conversation and by observing her example. No one I know is better at suffering. It’s helped me maneuver through a great many disappointments in my life without losing hope or becoming too cynical to endure.

I think it’s a lesson we need to continue allowing our children to learn, despite a wholly natural desire to protect them from disappointment. (Easy for me to say, I suppose, since I don’t actually have any.)

As for physical toughness – well, after about 10 years of staggering sloth, physical toughness has proven to be actually rather easy for me. I just keep going to fitness classes that kick my ass every day. Or randomly running race distances I’m not accustomed to (because I’m stubborn and I know that once I start, I won’t stop until I’ve finished. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Which is another form of mental toughness, maybe.)

And it hurts. Sometimes a lot. I’ve had days where I can barely crawl out of bed because I’m so sore from a previous day’s workout. But I’ve actually come to crave that feeling. I’m not masochistic. I’ve learned (finally) that physical suffering is making me stronger.

I don’t think I felt like that at the start of this year. I used to resist that philosophy  of “no pain, no gain” with every fiber of my being.

So, if I’ve gained nothing else in 2016 (and in truth, I’ve gained a lot, even if it isn’t necessarily what I wanted), I’m a stronger person in every way.

One of my goals for the new year is to stop resisting. Suffering will happen, to all of us, at every stage of life. The most graceful and beneficial way to deal with it is to accept it, learn, keep moving, and embrace the strength it brings.

1 thought on “Suffering, Physical & Mental Toughness, and Letting Go of 2016

  1. Pingback: Podcast Notes: Tim Ferriss Interviews Tony Robbins | Girl In Revision

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