A mentor of mine, Robert McKee, explains that in a story there are often two ways that the hero wins. They either outsmart the monster or they overpower the monster. They use brains or brawn. I believe that in most areas of life this advice is extremely sound.
For example, take many of the emotional problems that we face. The majority of mental illness can be massively helped by those who are going through it doing whatever they can to increase the blood flow that is going on in their frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is the part of the mind responsible for rational thinking and reason. It is the seat of self-control and the more we engage it the less likely we are to be led by our own emotions.
That part of our mind is smarter than the emotional brain. It allows us to achieve our goals and problem solve and is the key to taking charge of how we think and feel. We need to learn to get smarter by using it more.
When we want to change a behaviour or a habit, we often find ourselves challenged with the urge or compulsion to return to the old habit. When we connect with our own strength it allows us to stand firm and not give in to our temptations. We say no because we are strengthening ourselves up by making the hard choices.
Lastly, take social or relationship problems which we have to deal with. Much of the time this is to do with conflict that arises from our fears and insecurities around other people.
We need to be tough enough to stand up for ourselves or smart enough to let ourselves be vulnerable and accept when we are wrong. Winning in relationships with people involves a firm balance between being strong for you and being smart in how you relate to them. It is all down to how we can toughen up and remain tender.
Being stronger is accomplished decision by decision and by pushing ourselves to do things that are difficult to make ourselves better. Being smarter is achieved by thinking objectively more and more about our problems and focusing on what we can do and how we can do it. I believe a combination of both approaches can lead to a far happier life.