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One hard thing you have to do to be happy, healthy and successful
Category: SOLUTIONS
Tags: Inspirations Soulutions Consciousness Happiness Life

One hard thing you have to do to be happy, healthy and successful

Think about the most common problems we deal with in our lives – from laziness to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so on.

In most cases, problems like these are not caused not by a physical ailment, but by a weakness of the mind – a weakness that urges us to avoid discomfort.

Discomfort is a form of pain, but it isn’t a deep pain – it’s a shallow one. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. The idea of exercising in many people’s minds, for example, brings discomfort – so they don’t do it. Eating green vegetables brings discomfort too. So does meditating, or focusing on a difficult task, or saying no to others. Of course, these are just examples, because different people find discomfort in different things, but you get the general idea.

The bottom line is most of us don’t want to be uncomfortable. So we run from discomfort constantly. The problem with this is that, by running from discomfort, we are constrained to partake in only the activities and opportunities within our comfort zones. And since our comfort zones are relativity small, we miss out on most of life’s greatest and healthiest experiences, and we get stuck in a debilitating cycle.

Let’s use diet and exercise as an example…

First, we become unhealthy because eating healthy food and exercising feels uncomfortable, so we opt for comfort food and mindless TV watching instead.
But then, being unhealthy is also uncomfortable, so we seek to distract ourselves from the reality of our unhealthy bodies by eating more unhealthy food and watching more unhealthy entertainment and going to the mall to shop for things we don’t really want or need. And our discomfort just gets worse.
Amazingly, the simple act of accepting a little discomfort every day, and taking it one small step at a time, can solve most of our common problems, and make our minds happier, healthier and stronger in the long run.

Now, let me give you some examples of how I’ve experienced this in my own life…

Strengthening the Mind… One Small, Hard Step at a Time

Years ago, when I was incredibly 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 that’s unwilling to be uncomfortable. 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 hundreds for most people, including myself. Weakness of the mind is a real dream killer, and the only way to fix this weakness is daily practice.

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 associate betrayed him and bankrupt their company? Can she keep her life together even after suffering from a major, debilitating bodily injury?

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 and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed yourself in hundreds 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 go to the gym when it would be more comfortable to sleep in. Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be more comfortable to quit at nine. Choose to create something special when it would be more comfortable to consume something mediocre. Choose to raise your hand and ask that extra question when it would be more comfortable to stay silent. Prove to yourself, in hundreds of little ways, that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life.

Mental strength is built through lots of small, daily victories. It’s the individual choices we make day-to-day that build our “mental strength” muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but we can’t think our way to it. If you want it, you have to do something about it ritualistically. It’s your positive daily rituals that prove your mental fortitude in the long run.

The bottom line is that when things get difficult for most people, they find something more comfortable to do. When things get difficult for mentally strong people, they find a way to stay on track with their positive daily rituals.
(Marc and I build positive, life-changing rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
 
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