Life is not easy, which is why you have to do hard things to be happy in life. The things no one else is doing. The things that frighten you. The things others can’t do for you. The things that make you question how much longer you can hold on and push forward.
Far too often we think that mental strength is all about how we respond to extreme circumstances. How did she perform on stage during that nationally televised event? Did he bounce back after his business failed and left him in deep debt? Can she keep her life together even after suffering from a major, debilitating loss?
Here are two real key rituals people with remarkable mental strength, do daily:
1. They use passion and love to fuel their drive to get the hard things done.
Because those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between existing and living – between knowing the path and walking the path – between a life of defeat and a life filled with happiness and success.
Adversity is an inevitability, and it’s much like walking in to a turbulent windstorm. As you fight to push through it, you not only gain strength, but it tears away from you all but the essential parts of you that cannot be torn.
Once you come out of the storm you see yourself as you really are in raw form, still holding the passions and values that move you, and little else. These are the lusts that matter – the inner love and vows that define you. It is this kind of love that drives you forward and even when the going gets tough. It is this kind of love that strengthens the mind, body and soul. (covered in the “Goals & Growth” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)
2. They are relentlessly consistent.
Years ago, when I was extremely focused on weight lifting and physical strength training, I gradually learned that you can’t be truly committed to any goal if you have a weak mind. To combat this, I wrote two simple questions on two different post-it notes and stuck one on my bathroom mirror and the other inside my gym locker:
– How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you that you were too tired?
– How many workout reps have you skipped because your mind, not your body, said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth”?
To this day, the answer to both questions is probably thousands for most people, including myself. Weakness of the mind is a real dream killer, and the only way to fix this weakness in daily practice.
There’s no doubt that extreme circumstances test our bravery, determination and mental strength, but what about common, daily circumstances?
Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow anddevelop over time. If you haven’t pushed yourself in thousands of little ways over time, of course you’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Choose to get to the gym when it would be easier to sleep in. Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be easier to quit at nine. Choose to create something special when it would be easier to consume something mediocre. Choose to raise your hand and ask that extra question when it would be easier to stay silent. Prove to yourself, in a thousand little ways, that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life.
Mental strength is built through lots of little victories.
It’s the individual choices that we make on a daily basis that build our ‘mental strength’ muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but you can’t think your way to it. You have to do something about it religiously. It’s your daily actions that prove your mental fortitude.
The bottom line is that when things get difficult for most people, they find something easier to do. When things get difficult for mentally strong people, they find a way to stay on track.
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