Taking a deep breath of fresh mountain air, you stand over your bike and gaze down the steep granite slope leading into a narrow clearing of trees. You have two options. Do you choose to remain stuck in fear or do you send it bravely into the unknown?

Humans have evolved through risk taking; when we take our first step, we risk falling down; when we learn to ride a bicycle, we risk crashing; when ask someone on a date, we risk being rejected. As tough as it is, if we don’t lean into the fear and discomfort, we don’t progress.


When you think of the word tough you may think of physical toughness, but I’m not talking about Chuck Norris. I’m talking about the strength of a person’s will. I’m talking about taking a chance when others will not, facing adversity, following your heart, enduring through hardship, standing up for what you believe in or going against the grain.


The physical and mental strength of an athlete is what draws many people to follow sports. We’re fascinated by athlete’s ability to endure and withstand the pain and suffering and perform, no matter how brutal the circumstances. Athlete’s are often faced with situations in which they’re physically tapped out, but needn’t be shaken and must figure out how to pull something more out of themselves. Life is no different. In order to build the toughness needed to persevere against life’s blows, you need to practice and push yourself every day


There are no shortage of difficult situations in life, and although it feels easier to resist and ignore problems, unless you show up for what’s up it’s going to keep showing up. When you face fear, stay calm and get curious about your resistance, a catalyst will appear. Your consciousness opens up to find solutions rather than problems—the line appears down the steep gnarly descent, a conversation changes your perspective, someone unlocks a piece of your heart or an inspiring moment shows you the way.


It takes serious guts to shed your armour and show sincere emotion, gratitude, excitement and joy. One of our greatest fears is laying it all out there and being vulnerable. Instead we choose to self edit, posturing in hopes to become more likable or lovable. The truth is, when we’re vulnerable we are revealing the essence of who we are—and that is beautifully irresistible. When you choose to be honest and show who you are from your heart, you’re exposing your authentically beautiful story. Whether it’s with your new love interest, your friends, your staff or your social media followers; you’ll become increasingly magnetic, build trust and you’ll resonate with people in more personal way.


To be tough is to not only have the strength to hold something up, but to let something go. Even when we find ourselves in unhealthy situations or relationships, we’re taught to stay strong, never give up and keep fighting. Whether it’s a relationship that no longer serves you, but you’re too scared to leave, or a miserable job that you stay in because you believe you can’t find something better. We worry that letting go will be too painful so we shy away from goodbyes because we cannot fathom the idea of change. Letting go is never a sign of weakness. Letting go means that you’re being bravely authentic with yourself and you’re acknowledging when it’s time for change. Letting go is tough, but you’re surrendering what was to make room for something that is more nourishing in your life.

When you think of tough you may think of physical toughness, but I’m not talking about Chuck Norris. I’m talking about the strength of a person’s will.


“Fear is for the brave, for cowards never stare it in the eye” — Passenger When you push yourself mentally to the brink, over and over again, you become increasingly resilient and are more able to take on any challenge with confidence, regardless of the odds. Exposing yourself to fear and failure trains your ability to endure. You learn to find a way or make one. Courage is not innate, it comes from putting yourself in difficult situations on a consistent basis, or doing a seemingly difficult action over and over until you not longer have any emotional attachment to that situation, environment, or action. You build an immunity to it—You’re increasing your mental toughness!


Events are not traumatic until we experience them as traumatic. It’s up to you to decide what meaning you give your tough times. Are they challenges that make you stronger or is the world always against you? Will you use this setback as a beautiful story of your perseverance, or will you use it as an excuse as to why you didn’t succeed? Having a positive outlook is easy when things are peachy, but it becomes increasingly tough to maintain it difficult times—when you need it most. Your thoughts create the conditions necessary for your performance. If you’re struggling with a cancer diagnosis, going through a divorce or laid up in bed with a sports injury, you have two choices; see the good, believe in yourself and find solutions or feel sorry for yourself, beat yourself up, blame others and make an already painful situation worse.


The ability to endure through whatever circumstances arise it tough. It takes real courage to feel the feelings, sit with the deep discomfort and push on. Toughness means keeping strong in the face of adversity. When the feeling of defeat overwhelms you, you must call on your tenacious ability to keep your focus and determination, despite the difficulties. Life rarely goes the way we envision, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it throw you off your game.


Becoming beautiful and tough requires trusting your gut and showing up in life. Facing your fears and having an adaptive attitude that lets you focus on possibilities even in the worst of times. The tougher the situation, the tougher you become. Unlike in sports, in life no one is cheering for you, but you can choose to cheer for yourself. Each time you’re faced with a new challenge, you’re mentally training for tough moments, and that’s giving you the reserves to be able to say I’ve seen this. I’ve done this; I know I can do it because I’ve been there before. —and that is beautifully tough.

By Rachelle Hynes

Rachelle Hynes is an athlete, artist and foodie who’s passionately in pursuit of what sets her soul on fire. She is the founder of Zesty Life, a website that empowers people to embrace their hunger for adventure and get into flow with life.

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