Warning: In the next few paragraphs I’ll be going completely mental.
Fitness buffs tend to like to focus on Mental-strength as well as Body-strength, because of the obvious connection — the mind drives the body to action. Strong and fearless gets results, rather than weak and ineffective, no question about that. Feeling mentally strong gives you courage and makes you feel on top of the world. Being able to tackle and conquer whatever comes along is a great feeling. When you can breeze through even the dreariest exercises and chores, that is truly empowerment and a ticket to happiness. Okay, enough cheer-leading, let’s get down to some personal advice about developing a strong mental spirit.
Practice Positivity — My go-to mental frame of mind seems to mimic Pollyanna, where she plays “The Glad Game”, finding something to be glad about in every situation. I recommend playing that game. Find yourself reacting badly to something? That’s when it’s best to find a reason to ‘Like’ it rather than ‘Unliking’ it. Gradually this can become your default thinking. People tend to view Pollyanna as an insipid ninny — well, wouldn’t that view be due to their own negativity showing through?
Help is Out There — Decades ago, I was depressed and lonely, and found counseling with a therapist and workshops to be very helpful. At the turn of the Millennium, I was going through a rough patch and felt over-whelmed with despairing thoughts, so my doctor prescribed the mildest of anti-depressants, which ever-so-subtly returned me to a positive frame of mind. Then when I felt ready again to deal with life’s challenges, I was weaned off the pills — the month-long transition was barely noticeable, and now I feel good-to-go! Based on my experience, trained Mental Health Professionals can help one’s mental health. Thinking that you can heal yourself is admirable, but I’ve also heard it suggested that it’s just another sign that you need outside help (i.e., you can’t trust your own thinking when you’re experiencing a period of mental distress).
Spirituality — Spirituality certainly seems to be required in order to grow old gracefully and to embrace the balance of my life, so these days I’m focused on strengthening my spiritual mental prowess. This seems pretty amorphous, but I’m thinking that I need to focus on:
- Emphasizing human qualities such as love, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness, responsibility.
- Developing values like affection, generosity, kindness, and selflessness.
- Experiencing a connectedness with a larger reality/higher power.
Keeping this in mind, I try to do some meaningful contemplative reading at the start of each day, while drinking my morning coffee. Also, I try to meet-up regularly with like-minded people in order to share experiences regarding our respective spiritual journeys.
[Img.Src: Pollyanna book cover, World Mental Health Day, 10/10/2015.]