A Thought or Two (Maybe Three) About Setting Yourself Up for Good Mental Fitness

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I often overhear my husband talking on the phone to people he does business with.  A common theme he points out to people is this:  You either set yourself up to succeed or you set yourself up to fail. I have no idea which of his favorite speakers or authors initially said it, but he firmly believes in its worth. The point is always followed up by examples of setting oneself up to fail (like not listening to details, not putting customers/consumers/buyers first AND last, taking shortcuts, etc.) and examples of setting oneself up to succeed (getting your priorities straight, outworking everyone else, going above and beyond, etc.)

Of course, this same sort of philosophy can spill into other crevices of life as well.  Since we’re most interested in Mental Fitness and Mental Health on this particular blog, we’ll stick with that subject.


Ways We Set Ourselves up to Fail OR Ways we Sabotage Our Mental Fitness!

Unhealthy, Poisonous Thoughts – Rightfully at the top of the list.  Whether we use our thoughts to worry about things that haven’t even happened or use them to re-hash and re-live bad experiences, we stab ourselves in the foot with negative, destructive thinking. 

I’ve never understood people who relive bad things.  I overheard a woman tell her husband recently, “I remember when you said blah blah blah… That really hurt!”  He was like, “I said I was sorry.  That was over 20 years ago!”  I wanted to lean over to their table and tell her that if she has to go back 20 years to find something clumsy that came out of her man’s mouth, she should get on her knees and thank God right now! 

Why relive bad things – the first run was enough, right?  I can understand reliving the good moments, it makes you feel good all over again.

Think about it this way, when we engage in thoughts and memories, our psyche experiences it all over again.  How healthy do you think it would be to keep exposing our psyche to bad experiences?  It would think we had the most profoundly miserable life in the world.  Healthy?  Not even close.

How about worry? It makes your psyche a basket case – and, again, that isn’t at all productive for one’s mental fitness.

Let things go.  If you think you’re harming someone else by holding onto them, you are dead wrong.  You’re only harming one person and if you want to see who that is, find the nearest mirror.

I have countless bad traits – from spending money like I have an orchard of money trees to driving like I’m qualifying for the Daytona.  But one thing I actually nailed early in life was this:  You have to let go of the bad as soon as you possibly can.  That’s why I don’t hound my husband with things he said years, months, or even days ago.  Doesn’t matter.  Truth be told, since I never make it a point to dwell on negatives, they disappear from my mind very quickly.  Only things we think about fairly frequently stay with us.

Why do you think things we learned in school disappear so soon after we leave school.  We don’t think about the Mayflower Compact, Spanish verbs, Diagramming sentences, or (for crying out loud) calculus on a regular basis.

If you have negative thoughts or worries lingering in the halls of your mind, chase them out with a broom.  They aren’t helping you set yourself up for good mental fitness or happiness at all. They’re setting you up for gloom, failure, and a sick psyche.

By Becomming Mind Sloths!  –  If we aren’t careful, when we least expect it, an epidemic reaches down and claims us.  It’s the Mind Sloth epidemic and it’ll turn your mind to mush. 

What are the symptoms of this epidemic? 

  1. Frequent television watching and/or internet surfing without balancing the time with frequent reading and mental challenges.
  2. Saying, “I can’t do this so I’m not even going to try!”
  3. Being unable to name the last book you read.
  4. Being unable to carry on a conversation on topics plucked from the daily newspaper.
  5. Being unable to name your daily newspaper!
  6. Being content and comfortable with the knowledge you have at this point.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, there’s hope.  But you have to ACT, no one’s going to do it for you.

  1. Broaden your horizons.  There’s NOTHING wrong with watching television, there’s NOTHING wrong with going online – but they mustn’t become your identity.  If someone thinks of one of these activities when they hear your name, you may need to do a little soul searching.  Read more books, research things that interest you, read the newspaper.
  2. When you come face to face with a challenge, don’t immediately run the other way.  A great sense of pride, self-confidence and accomplishment come with every battle you win.  However, each battle you walk away from weakens your resolve and throws ice water on your self confidence.  You never know what you can do until you try.  You very well may find out you have more knowledge, creativity, and ability lying inside of you than you ever suspected.  When you wake it up, it might just blow your socks off!
  3. Never be content with what you know.  There’s so much to learn – the world’s a huge, fascinatiing place.  The more you learn, the more you realize how much you have left to learn.  Pick a country, an animal, a period of history, an event, an individual – and learn everything you possibly can about them.

By Being Physically Unhealthy. Our physical fitness and health affects our mental fitness and health.  We should strive to be as physically and mentally fit as possible – the two work together brilliantly. 

  1. Get at least 30 minutes of activity daily.  Take walks, clean your house, work in the yard, put on Motown and dance… Whatever you want to do, just get moving.
  2. Eat healthy.  Research shows that the foods that are good for us, physically, are also good for us mentally.  Fish, berries, spinach, oranges, green tea, coffee… they’re all good for us from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes.
  3. Get plenty of fresh air and natural sunlight.  Go outside and take healthy, long deep breaths several times a day.  It just down-right feels good!  Plus, it benefits the cells of your body and mind greatly.
  4. Avoid the things that are bad for you physically.  Smoking, overeating, inactivity – they’re not just unhealthy for your heart and lungs, your brain doesn’t appreciate them either.  At all!

Are you setting yourself up to be as mentally fit as possible or are you sabotaging and sacrificing your mental health.  I want you to also realize that there’s something else to keep in mind.  It isn’t talked about as much as mental fitness or physical fitness, but it’s every bit as important – and that’s Emotional Fitness.  The things you just read about matter as much to your Emotional Fitness as they do your mental and physical fitness. They all go hand in hand, cell in cell.  When one’s strong, it encourages the others to be as well.  When one’s weak, however, it drags the others down with it. 

If you’re guilty of sabotaging your mental fitness, you might as well say that you’re also sabotaging your physical fitness and your emotional health as well.  Don’t wait for tomorrow to do something about it.  Stop whatever you’re doing right now and give yourself a little pep talk.  You know what things you need to start doing and what things you need to stop doing.  When you pinpoint each, write it down.

Then go over each point and come up with a plan for each.  If a plan eludes you, do a little research – or e-mail me and If I don’t already have some advice in my pocket, I’ll do the research for you.

Make each moment a healthy moment, first, and then make it count double!
~ Joi

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1 comment… add one
  • Susan Link

    great blog about mental fitness!

    I’ve found free memory training that can help me keep the brain in shape and my mental fitness, http://www.foxythinking.com. I’ve think it has helped me to focus and remember things.

    Keep writing!

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