In life, there are times when you need to be mentally sharp, to make good decisions fast. In those times you need to be mentally strong. That means managing your emotions, adjusting your thinking, and choosing to take positive action whatever your circumstances. But like anything physical and mental strength don’t just happen. They have to be developed.
Here are 15 ways to become mentally stronger:
Focus on the moment. The challenges that come along from time to time are a test of our willingness to stretch and change. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the situation or procrastinate in developing solutions. The challenge is here and the difficulty is now. Focus your energy on the present moment; don’t lose what is right before you. When you focus on the moment you come to realize where you have the most power to make things right.
Embrace adversity. Mental strength gives us the ability to see the obstacles in our path as stepping stones. When we encounter struggle, and we all do, we can be inspired by the knowledge that it’s not a dead end but a path to deeper knowledge and understanding.
Exercise your mind. Just like your muscles, your mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. Growth and development take consistent work, and if you have not pushed yourself recently, you might not be growing as much as you can. Mental strength is built through lots of small wins, maintained through the choices we make every day. To gain stamina, take on a daily task that stretches your mental endurance.
Challenge yourself. Albert Einstein once said, “One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.” Underestimating yourself and playing it safe hold you back from success. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, you often can go beyond the imaginable.
Respond positively. You cannot control everything that comes your way, but you are in absolute control of how you react to everything that comes your way. What happens to you is important–but not as important as your response. Incredible progress can happen in your life and leadership when you take control of your reactions.
Be mindful. Mindfulness means taking control of your focus and being intentional about what you give your attention to. Whether it’s an emotion, a thought, a belief, an impulse, or something in the environment, mindfulness calls us to approaching everything with a curious, nonjudgmental, open, and accepting attitude. To be the most resilient and mentally strong, make the time to be mindful so you can focus on what you truly want.
Don’t be defeated by fear. To be resilient and mentally strong means knowing how to deal with fear. When you enter frightening situations with the awareness that it’s an opportunity for you to grow, trust outweighs fear.
Be aware of self-talk. We’re often so busy worrying about how we talk to others that we sometimes lose track of the way we talk to ourselves. Make a point of being as positive and supportive of yourself as you are of others, because when times get tough you have to be able to believe you can make it through. Replace self-doubt with positivity.
Rid yourself of can’t. When you feel like you can’t do something, keep your focus positive. You just have to do it. The mentally strong weed out the words like can’t, never, and should–replacing them with can, could, and when.
Stumble toward success. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Perseverance gives you the ability to face any difficulty, any challenge, any setback without being defeated. It’s better to have a lifetime full of small failures that you learned from rather than one filled with the regret of never having tried.
Find solutions. There will be always problems– every business has complications and any endeavor has hurdles, but if you can learn to focus 90 percent of your time on solutions and only 10 percent on problems, you’ll be able to respond effectively instead of spinning your wheels.
Be grateful. In the business of our busy lives we neglect many of the basic concept of recognition but gratitude gives us fortitude. Gratitude can transform any common day into a thanks giving day and turn routine jobs onto joy and change ordinary opportunities into something we get grateful about.
Brace yourself for the storms. Adversity is inevitable. Be as well-prepared as you can so you can fight them with strength and push through to blue skies.
Define your moments. When you find yourself doubting how far you can go, remember how far you have come. Give yourself credit for everything you have faced, for the battles you have won, for the fears you’ve overcome.
Make it an everyday pursuit. Most mental strength is built and demonstrated not in exceptional circumstances but in the day-to-day of life and leadership.
Positivity, preparation, willingness, discipline, focus, and a long view will all serve you well. Practice mental strength and understanding and you’ll soon be amazed at how strong you’ve become.
Peace and Love, Jim