A Plausible Method for Toughness Training?

There is no easy way around it. Compassion-istas are out and toughness will have to be in. Why? Because our time is just screaming for toughness. Too many are folding, too many caving in, far too many bowled over, snowed under, and generally overwhelmed. Trouble: weakness, softness, flimsiness. Moreover, we have no idea what sort of future we are going to face, but that future, we can be sure, will require more of us than we have given so far.

Here, then, is an interesting thought on method with regard to toughness training: to learn what toughness is, begin by gathering together physico-ethical descriptions of a tough experience. Consider, for example these parings:

  • John backs down whereas Jane stands firm.
  • Tom faces up to things whereas Terry turns away from things.
  • Mark puts his whole weight into the endeavor, yet Mary grows slack.

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Toughness Training: Four Questions

Suppose someone were to ask you, ‘Are you tough?,’ with the question situated in our historical context. He would not be asking whether you can fight someone to the death, beat someone up, endure weeks of physical torture, or climb Everest. The context would make it clear that he is asking you about a physical-mental nexus of toughness suited for our time and our life.

He might, then, have (at least) four different senses of toughness in mind:

1.) When it comes to assignments or activities, are you someone who can take on incrementally harder and harder tasks (here I’m thinking of the Labors of Hercules) without breaking or feeling ‘overwhelmed’?

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