I enjoy studying legendary people who started from the bottom and whose wildest dreams have come true. I find their paths to success fascinating, and I have constantly wondered for as long as I can remember what makes one man more capable than the next. When I study the commonalities amongst greats, one trait stands out to me more than any other: mental toughness. The ability to endure mental and physical pain by passionately focusing on the ultimate goal is difficult and rare.
I wonder if these unique individuals were born with this skill or if it something they acquired. How can each one of us work to strengthen our mental toughness each day? Not dissimilar from physical training, practice and pushing ourselves enables us to go a little farther, be a little better, and accomplish a little more each day. Our tolerance for pain goes up, and what we considered impossible previously becomes the ordinary and expected.
Each day, we have the ability to focus our energy on anything we choose. Of course we have jobs, children, obligations, and responsibilities. These are unavoidable, but there are still moments in the day when we have time to ourselves. Wouldn’t training our minds to get more out of the finite energy we have be a wise investment? If we can learn to absorb the stresses and failures of life more effectively, wouldn’t this lead us to living fuller and happier lives?
This Forbes article outlines six elements of mental toughness that one can develop in order to become more mentally tough. If you’d like, try consciously implementing one or two in your day-to-day to see if it has a positive effect.
“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”
– Bill Russell
A wise man once taught me, color out of the lines.
It is just more fun. Always leave the last cookie. You will never know who will need it more. Your smile is the best accessory. It the most functional, goes with everything, and looks good on everyone. Give it YOUR all…YOUR best. When you think you can not give any more, push yourself to top it off. Whether you’re behind a desk pushing papers, on the field bending blades or lost in a nightmare of a dream, if you are at your best, the world is your oyster. So just shuck it. Live in every moment. Run in the rain. Play in the dirt. Say yes. No one for sure knows what lies around the corner. Choose your own adventure and dive right in. Your past is your past but your future is a blank canvas. Paint it.
by Brenna Fox
Chase your passions like the moth chases the flame.
When we’ve been away from the flame for too long, we begin to die. Our daily activities become increasingly monotonous. Our lives lose its magic, and we start to shuffle through life like zombies. We go on autopilot and forget to be conscious. It is crucially important that we come back to our passions. It recharges our souls.
Distractions and obstacles always have a way of presenting themselves. The question is do you have the wherewithal, perspective, and fortitude to push through the discomfort to return to your energized state. Kids, work, money, lack of time are all real and powerful reasons we stray from the substance that makes us whole, but without cultivating an inner-peace with yourself, you are doing your entire circle an injustice. We can’t be perfect, and that’s okay.
You don’t have to go after success everyday. Some days are better spent recuperating the energy you’ve sacrificed for your family, for your friends, for your future. Always try to remember to be true to yourself. Listen to what your mind, body, and soul are telling you. The answer is written inside you. Only you know what your flame is. Never cease to find your flame.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Escape the bullshit. Go for a walk.
People are constantly at war with themselves. Unfortunately much of our lives are spent involved in this fruitless war. We are so self-absorbed and warped that we can’t even take the time to ask the guy next to us how he managed that smile on his face. We ourselves haven’t used a smile in months. We worry constantly about what other people think. How far inward can we get today? How many people can we crush to get what we want. It’s a selfish downward spiral. Obsession of self is another term I’m fond of. It leads to unhappiness and the “fork in the road” that you took was subtle. You made the choice to be selfish before you could even think about it.
Whatever happened to do unto others? What happened to helping your neighbor? I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s still here. It’s just not being practiced. So to you I lay this challenge.
The more time spent thinking and helping others, the less time you have to worry about Jimmy with the six pack and Samantha with the perfect legs. Every morning ask yourself this. Who can I help today? Do it with no thought of reward. Be selfless everyday. Happiness is guaranteed to follow. Here’s a shocker. Religion teaches these principles. I didn’t just go up in flames and you won’t either. It should serve as a reminder that these actions have been in practice for thousands of years with great results. We just have to remember it. Remember to help someone at some point during your “busy” day. You’ll be so much better for it. You might ask yourself how you can help others. Don’t be ashamed. I ask myself that.
You know how your roommate or spouse always leaves laundry in the dryer? Fold it next time and put it in his or her room. What about the single mother you see lugging groceries on your walk home? You see her so often. Take a minute and introduce yourself and help her with her bags.
There’s almost always a can at gas stations on the counter asking for contributions to certain charities. Since you just spent $2.85 on a large coffee why not put the change or at least a dollar in that can. It doesn’t matter what its for, you are helping someone else.
Lets look at that co-worker that is struggling to make ends meet. They always talk about it but don’t ask for help. Hide a $20 bill in their jacket pocket.
Send your parents a bouquet of roses without a card.
Then there’s the friend that always asks for a ride everywhere. Our first thought should be how we are lucky to even have wheels, the second thought should always follow with “Of course I will give this person a ride. I have the time and means to help them.”
These are just quick examples. You can think of more if you try. That’s the fun of it! You can never run out of ways to help another person. You can choose how much you help. But the real lesson is this: The more you concentrate on helping them, the less time you have to worry about your vanity, issues and bedevilment’s of day to day life. Trust me I know first hand. True happiness stems from helping others and quieting your obsession for what you don’t have. The former conquers the latter every time. Do you have the courage for the right battle?
Yesterday at our condo association, I looked on as two young children played games with their grandmother in the backyard. I saw the pleasure in their eyes and heard the thrill in their voices. The young girl repeatedly yelled out to her grandmother, “I NEED to show you something” with great urgency. She wanted to show the grandmother how she could hit a wiffle ball.
I looked on with a deep gaze and in that moment, I flashed back. I thought about how perceptions change, how things become duller and smaller, and how fun and excitement become more difficult to attain as we age. I reflected on how easy it is to get used to looking at something from one angle, how we can get stuck in our habits, and how we can get forget to be present in the mindless march of life.
I thought about life and what it means to be truly alive. I haven’t felt alive like those young children in many years. I thought about the pain involved in growing older: loss, grief, regret, sickness. I’ve used alcohol, nicotine, and drugs to try to squeeze more magical moments of youth from my life. The beneficial effects of drugs have faded. I realize now that through the aging process, our filter of experience changes. Our responsibilities grow, our lives become condemned with the unessential, and we settle for the futile.
I look to the lives of great ones, one particular great one, for advice on such diseasing thoughts. “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” –Steve Jobs.
I want to be a kid. I want to chase my dreams. I’m sick of the status quo, and I’m tired of living in the anguish of mere existence. I want to make a difference in the world because I know that the road doesn’t end when the final song has been sung. I regret every moment of my life where I have not pursued my passions. The only moment I feel childlike is in the moments where I chase what excites me. I will not allow this to continue. I choose my destiny, and it is to chase after all that excites my soul.