The Supreme Skill of Fortitude

Not sure what’s cause, what’s consequence. But being raised inside of a Dojo, I always felt that fortitude was the most important emotional skill someone could develop. Because fortitude is the skill of all skills. The thick skin that allows you to face difficulties, learn from them and emerge better. Which applies to anything in life. To the ring, of course, but also for your career, your family life, your hobbies, the goals you want to give yourself.

Unfortunately, the world treats it as a gift from the gods. One of those things you’re born with or not. But if there is ONE thing fighting has taught me that fortitude is a highly developable skill. Just like your strength, your flexibility, your agility…

Former mega executive turned happiness student Pedro Earp talks about that beautifully in his recent post on LinkedIn. “Happiness fitness,” he calls it. Then goes about exposing yourself to discomfort as a paradoxical yet inherent part of building happiness. Somehow, if all we seek is comfort, happiness will keep getting pushed into smaller and smaller corners of life, until there’s nothing left to enjoy.About exposing yourself to discomfort as a paradoxical yet inherent part of building happiness. Somehow, if all we seek is comfort, happiness will keep getting pushed into smaller and smaller corners of life, until there’s nothing left to enjoy.

In Breathe – A Life in the Flow, legendary fighter Rickson Gracie spend most of his time talking about learning to be comfortable with discomfort. He even tells a story from his teen years about how, after losing a fight for feeling claustrophobic, he asked one of his brothers to roll him into a carpet and stayed there until he no longer felt panic. This may sound crazy, extreme. But our emotional connections are trainable. Our nervous system learns. Our brain adjusts. All we need to do is manage it just like we manage how wide our legs can stretch, for example. Which is constantly pushing it further, one inch at a time.

Photo: Rickson Gracie explains his breathing technique to Edward Norton’s character in the movie Hulk

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