I was recently in Hawaii and drove past a sign for the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut company. It said they had a visitor center where you could sample the nuts and learn how they were processed.
I love all kinds of nuts – almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts and macadamias. I thought it might be fun to take a quick visit.
We drove three miles off the main road surrounded by thousands of macadamia trees.
When we arrived at the visitor center there was a self-guided tour of the plant, a video about macadamia production and a store with all kinds of macadamia merchandise.
I learned a lot about macadamias and how they are produced.
The macadamia is the hardest nut to crack. I always thought hazelnuts were hard to crack but macadamias are five times harder to crack open than a hazelnut. The nuts actually have mechanical properties similar to aluminum. It takes three hundred pounds of pressure to crack a macadamia nut.
The average person cannot crack a macadamia nutshell. In years past Hawaiians would literally drive their cars over the nuts to crack them. The Mauna Loa plant puts the macadamias in giant tanks with forced air for ten days to soften them up. But after that they must still use special machines to crack open the shell.
Now that is a tough nut to crack!
We need to be tough not to crack under the pressures of life. Problems, difficulties and hardships are a part of everyone’s life.
Yet, some people handle them better than others. They have developed a mental toughness that allows them to push through hard situations and successfully face adversity.
There is a story in the Bible found where God tells the Israelites that He will free them from slavery, accept them as His people and bring them into a new land promised to their ancestors. You would think that their response to such great news would be to rejoice and celebrate but that is not what happened.
In Exodus 6:9 it tells us, “When Moses told this to the Israelites, they were too discouraged and mistreated to believe him.”
The people had faced such oppression by the Egyptians and struggled for so long in captivity they would not believe the good news. Their lack of mental toughness caused them to capitulate to discouragement and unbelief.
The same thing happens today to many people facing job loss, illness, family breakdowns and many other problems. The ability to overcome these challenges and many others is rooted in mental toughness.
And there are particular qualities that result in this kind of toughness.
Optimism allows us to approach even the most formidable challenge with a belief that we will not only survive but thrive.
We simply choose to remain optimistic in the face of adversity. This optimistic outlook must be pervasive to all aspects of life: family, career, health.
Optimism helps us to respond positively, creatively and energetically to negative situations. Though not all problems can be solved, many can with creative approaches. If we believe that God has a plan for our lives and good can come out of bad we can remain positive in any situation.
A THICK SKIN
Mentally tough people have thick skin and don’t let circumstances or people control them.
One of the results of the social media explosion is that it has given virtually everyone a voice. Now, almost anyone, regardless of his qualifications, can critique almost anything.
We must be able to handle criticism and keep on track with our game plan. Most criticism will not result in any measurable negative impact beyond simply feeling bad.
Mental toughness is about having a high tolerance for short-term bad feelings. We need to simply say, “This is tough but I am a whole lot tougher.”
THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE
Anything worth doing in life will involve high-pressure situations along the way. Feeling discomfort is not bad but rather a sign that we are doing something significant.
A realistic perspective on life is that it is at times difficult and unfair. There are things that happen to all of us which create stress and hardship in our lives.
Are we mentally tough enough to deal with and overcome problems? Setbacks are a part of life and provide us with comeback opportunities.
We can rebound from disappointments, mistakes and missed opportunities. Tough people know they can overcome the inevitable challenges of life.
Adversity will make us dependent on God, clarify our motives and reaffirm our goals like nothing else.
I have found no better way to deal with the adversities of life than to pray and ask God for help and guidance.
Prayer brings a peace that is undeniable.
The temptation that we face with problems is to try and fix them quickly. But not all problems can be fixed quickly, if at all. We can overreact which could cause more problems.
Prayer helps us to be more patient and wait on God’s timing rather than our own.
As we left the Mauna Loa visitor center I looked at the thousands of macadamia trees. It takes just the right soil and climate for them to grow. There are only a few places in the world that have these trees and grow this sweet, buttery nut.
And when you create the right environment in your life you can have mental toughness. Tough times visit all of us but they do not last -- tough people do.