The real deal on toughness

Mark is a 9-year old boy who constantly and purposefully acts like a spoilt child, especially in front of his dad. He never listens to instructions or obeys his parents directly, even going so far as to talking back all the time. Mark is what you call a problem child.

The truth is: Mark’s father is an abusive, unemployed man who comes home every night drunk. In his drunkard rage, he takes it out on his kids. Mark has a 5-year old sister, by the name of Wendy. Mark has been acting rebellious so that his father would target him with his loud, verbal barrage. Mark acts rebellious to prevent Wendy from being punched or strangled by his dad.

Mark does this almost every night in his childhood.

Ma Yu Bao is a Chinese farmer who works everyday on his little farmland to make ends meet. He fights the harsh weather conditions in order to make sure his crop or life stock grow. Sometimes, the harvests fail for certain seasons. The government only issues a welfare monthly income of less than $15.

Ma Yu Bao still continues to farm.

Mrs Lim’s son has terminal cancer. He is bedridden and his friends come to visit regularly. Mrs Lim always puts on a smile and make sure her guests feel comfortable.

She knows her son would not make it, but she tries her best to show she is alright in order not to make her son feel sad or bad.


­­­­­The above make for real scenarios in life.

All of them illustrate one of the biggest misunderstandings on a certain quality most of the freaking world has gotten wrong.

That quality is Toughness.

To put it simply: Toughness is the ability to take everything the world throws at you and still have the willpower to stand up and continue. Toughness is the ability to SURVIVE.

Now, is this a very new concept? It does sound simple enough, but sadly, in today’s world filled with modern technology, new media, popular TV shows and movies, a lot of us, especially guys seem to forget the real meaning behind toughness.

Getting into a fight=dickhead

A lot of people think that for guys being tough is about having muscles, guts, the balls to really stand up for yourself and basically not letting anyone “win” over you. To be able to beat someone up, because that shows you have courage and you let the message out to others that you don’t take shit from anyone. And all your peers would be giving you rave reviews, “Whoa, don’t mess with this guy”.

It must be pretty cool right? I mean that’s what you see all the time in movies and reality TV shows.


A man fighting is just a dickhead.

Nobody ever wins in a fight. A friend once taught me this, “Even if you floor the person, your fists are still bleeding”

It takes real courage and balls to actually walk away from a fight. A real man recognizes the direct and long-term consequences of a fight and makes the wise decision to avoid it. Sure, maybe sometimes a fight is necessary, like defending yourself from robbers. But at the end of the day, the tough one knows how to let things go and move on with their lives instead of taking the self-destructive path of vengeance.

Every kind of attack is a cry for help and attention so there’s no way you are tough just from trying to start a fight. It reflects a deep sense of insecurity which you cannot, or do not dare to address head on.  Hence, you take it out on others. Is that tough? I think not.

It is never about the muscles

Looking tough is just well, only your way of saying you work out a lot or that you are perpetually in a bad mood. Maybe it gives a false sense of toughness and charisma, but guess what? Your only audience would be those like you; those who think that looking tough would get you somewhere.

Real toughness comes from stories; stories of people who have overcome trials and managed to make positive changes in their lives. And guess what? When they do it, you don’t hate on others or make a point to bring others down just so they can elevate themselves.

Don’t let others tell you what tough is

And that’s what toughness is all about. You are you, and only you can figure out and decide what’s best for you in your life. The world would constantly throw crap at you, whether you like it or not. You need to decide how you want to deal with it and most importantly, whether you strive to achieve positive effects in your life.

Forget about having balls, guts, courage, a 6 pac or street cred. Toughness is being yourself and let the whole world know this: “You can push me down over and over all you like, but you will never dampen my spirit and I am going to continue on, so get the fuck out of my way. And bring it on”.

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