The Meaning of Strength

I don’t quite understand people who say they found new kinds of strength when they went somewhere nice and happy.

Maybe it’s due to differing definitions of strength. I am more familiar and more often work with the physical definition (ability to apply high amounts of force), but I think that the most general definition is this little entry in the online Oxford dictionary: “The capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure”. I therefore don’t understand how you can go on vacation – a place that by definition is without stress or pressure – and find strength.


Basically, I believe strength emerges and is built in situations of stress. I have never felt anything resembling in idyllic circumstances – probably, I think, because there is no need to exert any force at all. If you have nothing weighing you down, you won’t have to push back.

Strength is self-discovery. You don’t guess at the limits of your strength; you learn what they are when you put yourself under pressure and see how well you handle it. You don’t walk around and relax and suddenly find new levels of strength. There are other forms of self-discovery in such circumstances, but not strength. Strength is tested in fire and improved under pressure. You cannot be strong when sitting on a couch. You can be strong when you’re trying to stand up against the pressure of 120kg on your shoulders. You cannot find strength taking long walks through a mountain. You can find strength trying to climb up a frozen cliff. 


You cannot find strength when everything goes your way, or when you set your bar so low that it requires no work. You will learn strength when everything feels broken and all you have is whatever you can dredge up in your gut.


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