Merriam Webster defines strength as “the quality or state of being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance.” And many people think of strength in terms of the definition above. They think of physical strength. When someone says that man or that woman is strong, we think of an outer strength. We think that this person has muscles and can lift a lot of weight and has a body that belongs on the cover of Sports Illustrated. We picture someone who eats healthy and goes to the gym every day pumping iron and doing cardio so that they can have a body that’s rock hard. And we would be correct in picturing this type of person when you hear about someone being strong, but there is another type of strength that people sometimes forget about.

There is physical strength, but another strength that sometimes gets overlooked is inner strength. And we overlook this kind of strength because it’s not visible. We can’t just look at somebody and tell if they are strong on the inside and that’s because this isn’t the kind of strength that’s developed by spending hours a day in the gym. This is the type of strength that grows slowly and develops by overcoming obstacles.

Everyone’s probably heard an inspirational story. I’m talking about one of those stories that tug at the heart strings. One of those stories that make you want to cheer for joy at the end of it. And one of those stories that leave you thankful for all the good that you have in your life. What is it about these stories that make us keep coming back for more? Is it the struggles that these people go through? Is it the triumph that they end up gaining once their story comes to a close? For me, it just so happens to be both of these things.

Most of us flock to these stories because we can identify with them in some way. We may have never had to deal with a serious illness, or crippling debt, or physical abuse, but we have all experienced struggles. And because we’ve all experienced struggle we can relate to these stories. We know what it feels like to be down and out and to feel like there’s no way we can overcome a situation. We know what it feels like to want to give up because we feel like that’s the only other option that we have. We know what it’s like to cry ourselves to sleep at night because we’ve lost all hope. But we also know what it’s like to experience triumph once we’ve overcome our challenge.

Hearing stories about someone overcoming their obstacles gives us the courage to overcome ours. We compare our lives to their lives and we realize that if they could overcome something as serious as what they were going then we can get through whatever we’re going through.

What makes these people strong is that they choose not to give up. When the road started to get rough, they kept on going. They knew that it wouldn’t be easy, but they pushed through anyway. We are inspired by their strength. We are inspired by their courage. And we are inspired by their resolve. And we draw from their strength, courage, and resolve to gain strength, courage, and resolve for ourselves.

Positive thinker, there’s power in deciding not to surrender. Better days are ahead of you, and you just need to keep on pushing through in order to see those days. It’s not going to be easy, but you can get through it. Let other people’s stories be a source of inspiration for you. Draw on whatever you need to draw on or draw from whomever you need to draw from to get the push that you need to get in order to overcome your struggles.

So yes it’s important to work on your outer strength, but it’s equally important to be strong on the inside. Physical strength is what’s going to keep your body going for years to come, but outer strength can only take you so far. Inner strength is what’s going to help you get through your toughest battles and that’s why it’s so important to work on your inner strength just as much as you work on your outer strength.

Remember, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”