Until lately, the health enterprise seemed as dated as a duplicate of Buns of Steel on VHS. There were the same vintage $30-a-month gyms for grunt-and-clank types and posh facilities with chilled towels and chatty trainers. Home equipment turned into dull or bizarre, from stair steppers to Shake Weight.
Sure, CrossFit had a second. That’s in which agencies of in any other case ordinary humans are persuaded to pound tractor tires with sledgehammers. It may yet end up a tricky Sacha Baron Cohen prank. Spin boutiques like Flywheel Sports and…Rather than increasing our mental capacity, we medicate ourselves. We engage in activities to make us feel better in the short run, but without really addressing the root problem which revolves around an insufficient ability to absorb and cope with life’s difficulties. It’s like addressing your weight gain by removing all the mirrors in the house. Sure it may make you temporarily feel better, but what does it do to solve the problem?
The truth is it’s an approach that all too often produces what can only be described as free-range, feral minds.
Mental Fitness Defined
To be clear, in this context Mental Fitness does not refer to the development of knowledge or even mental acuity. This is an important point. Many of the mental activities we undertake to develop our minds have very little to do with Mental Fitness, as referred to here. Examples of activities that DON’T dramatically increase our Mental Fitness levels include:
~ Digesting data as part of the learning process
~ Exercising one’s cognitive facility to make the mind more nimble
~ Participating in activities that soothe and nurture the agitated mind and emotions
This is not to say that these activities aren’t worthy and valuable, for they obviously are vital in our development as productive and happy human beings. Even so, for the most part, they are not helping to increase our ability to synthesize a relatively ease-filled experience in the most challenging of circumstances. And cultivating that ease-filled experience is the heart of Mental Fitness.
The key to the understanding of Mental Fitness is the notion of capacity. Mental Fitness is the measure of one’s capacity to weather life’s challenges without being thrown unduly off balance. It’s the capacity to withstand a layoff, to bear a health diagnosis, or to endure a financial challenge with grace, élan, and a sense of confident calm.
We all know people like this, who never seem to be ruffled. A layoff? No problem. IRS audit? Fine. A traffic accident? No biggie. While everyone around them is sent into tailspins, these folks stay calm, cool, and collected no matter what life throws at them. So what is it about these people that makes them so well-equipped to cope artfully with life’s challenges?
You guessed it: they have a level of Mental Fitness that allows them to artfully ride out such things. The greater your Mental Fitness level, the greater your mental and emotional capacity, and the greater your capacity for living happily-despite the curve balls life throws your way.
Clearly, this immunity to being buffeted by life’s ups and downs seems to be more naturally developed in some people than others. And it’s true, some people seem to be born with a natural ability to artfully weather life’s challenges-that is to say, they are endowed with a higher than average Mental Fitness level. But-and this is crucial-this in no way is to say that one’s Mental Fitness level is fixed.
Again, we can take clues from the physical realm. For the same is true of our innate physical fitness levels. Some of us are natural born athletes, others are anything but. Despite the fact that we humans come in shapes and sizes and physical abilities, no matter what one’s a natural level of physical fitness are, we ALL can benefit from exercising our physical selves-and improve our physical fitness and live healthier, happier lives.
And so it goes with Mental Fitness.
This means that we are not victims of our natural level of mental fitness, nor of our circumstances. Remember, the greater our Mental Fitness, the easier we can remain undisturbed by the inevitable difficulties that life throws our way. So it paves the way for more happiness and contentment-in good times and bad.
And just as importantly, developing ourselves in this regard can serve as an important component in the health of our communities. Physical fitness aids to stave off physical illness. Mental Fitness aids to stave off mental illness. It’s a simple means to enhance the well-being of us all.
With this understanding, the problem becomes one of increasing our Mental Fitness – our capacity to remain mentally and emotionally undisturbed in more and varied circumstances, especially in situations that have historically thrown us off balance.
How do I increase my Mental Fitness?
So, this all begs the question: “How do we increase our Mental Fitness level?” Surprisingly, it’s more simple and straightforward than you might think, and truly is not all that different from the way we build more physical fitness!
Think about it. To build our physical capacity, for example, your capacity to lift the weight, you physically challenge yourself. To lift more weight, you need to lift more weight. Strength builds as you deliberately lift just a bit more weight than you’re comfortable with. If you can easily lift 80 pounds, lift 85; once you can lift 85 without difficulty, move up to 90; and so on. You’re expanding your capacity for weight lifting by always lifting just a bit more than is comfortable and by staying with the burn.

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