Increase mental toughness with these three practices.

Increasing mental toughness is second nature to the two men who recommend this practice and live it every day: General Stanley McChrystal and Jocko Willink. General McChrystal retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general after more than 34 years of service. Jocko Willink spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy and commanded the most highly decorated SEAL special operations unit from the Iraq war. He is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. These men are experts in toughness and living proof that when you start acting tougher, you feel tougher and find new depth inside yourself. 

Being tougher is, more than anything, a decision to be tougher. So it is possible to immediately “be tougher,” starting with your next decision and action. Have trouble stopping at one episode while watching TV? Be tougher. Turn the TV off now. Make that your starting decision. It doesn’t matter how small or big you start. Putting yourself into a group that shares difficulties or discomfort strengthens your resolve to be tougher, and overcoming a fear enlarges your view of yourself. If you want to be tougher, be tougher. The only thing holding you back is you.


  1. Push yourself harder than you believe you’re capable of.
    Start with your next decision. Have trouble saying ‘no’ to dessert? Be tougher. Feeling tired? Take the stairs anyway. It doesn’t matter how small or big you start.

  2. Put yourself in groups that share difficulties or discomfort.
    You’ll find that when you have been through a difficult environment, you feel more strongly about what you’re committed to. For example, volunteer at a shelter or refuge or enter a team in the World’s Toughest Mudder competition.

  3. Identify a fear and overcome it.
    Make that scary phone call. Have that difficult conversation. Do some public speaking. Jump out of the airplane.


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