Fortitude and the Wherewithal to Carry On…
Fortitude – not an everyday word, so perhaps it’s succinct we look at its definition. According to Webster’s Dictionary, fortitude is “the strength to bear misfortune, pain, etc. calmly and patiently; firm courage.”
That’s a lot – powerful words indeed! But words are only powerful if we’re capable of acting upon them and fortitude is not the easiest word to act upon. As much as life can be fun, happy and pleasant, it can be disappointing, disillusioning and hard. Let’s face it, we can all take the good times, but we can’t all endure the tough ones. And it’s the tough times where fortitude shows its worth.
Looking back, we can recall our math teachers proclaiming the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. And as true as that is for geometry, for those of us having witnessed a few laps around the sun, we know well enough that real life is anything but.
Certainly, some things in life come easily and happen without a hitch, but just as much, many things, indeed a great many things, never happen as we plan. That so-called shortest distance between two points, in real life often becomes a road of detours, hills, valleys, bumps and ditches, not to mention the speeding tickets along the way! And it’s here, on the road to our dreams and goals, whether it’s in business, career, family or love that we must gather the fortitude to see our way through the tough times that inevitably arise. For it is fortitude that propels us through life’s deepest and darkest times and gives us the wherewithal to carry on. Without it, we’d be like lost sheep wandering the desert trying to find the next watering hole.
So if fortitude is the panacea to life’s challenges, the question begs, how then do we gather more of it? How do we become strong to the point that we act with the “firm courage” alluded to in Webster’s definition above?
Two things come to mind: self-belief and hope.
Self-belief or the ability to recognize that we’re capable of great things, fuels our desire to overcome adversity (see Acceptance, Self-Belief and a Rising Phoenix…). Without self-belief, we collapse upon the first sign of resistance; with it, we hunker down and prepare for the storm. We prepare because we know not to, would mean to give up; and a person of self-belief understands, that to give up, is the last of all options, if one at all.
As essential to fortitude is hope. Hope is the ingredient that forecasts a better future. It is the spark that continues to smolder long after the fire has died. Hope reinforces our self-belief and strengthens our will to endure misfortune, pain and tribulation. It strengthens because it gives cause to believe that somewhere out there the “promised land” awaits.
“Gird your hearts with silent fortitude, suffering yet hoping all things,” British poet Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) once wrote. Words of wisdom indeed, and we might well pay them homage the next time hardship appears…
For more, check out The C.A.T. Principle: Change, Action, Trust – Words to Live By, a Global Ebook Awards GOLD & SILVER Winner for Best Self-Help Non-Fiction Ebook of 2014 and 2016, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. See the latest Amazon reviews here.
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