Recently, we experienced another tragic event: full of stabbing at a Pittsburg-area high school. Only one week prior it had been yet another mass shooting at Fort Hood. And before which a long line of devastating and preventable tragedies of the kind that are seemingly progressively more common by the day. The Navy Yard, Aurora, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine: once names which simply brought to mind placid locations across our great nation that, sadly now, conjure devastating memories of unspeakable heartbreak.
Amid all of this, a national dialogue has again begun to emerge. It’s one that, given the questionable mental stability of your great many of the shooters over these events, involves discussions revolving around our nation’s attitudes and policies regarding mental health.
~ Are we doing enough to help remedy the mentally ill?
~ How should we better screen people for mental illness?
~ What exactly is keep guns out from the hands of those with histories of mental instability?
And so on…
But here’s a question I’ve yet to listen for: “What can we do to prevent mental illness firstly?” =stylish gym clothes=
Seems logical. And truthfully, as we were dealing with a crisis of flu, obesity, along with other physical malady, prevention could be at the top of this list. But strangely, our culture’s attitudes and habits related to mental health differ significantly from those toward physical health.
In the whole world of the physical, it’s universally recognized (albeit not necessarily practiced), that if you want a healthy body, you need to do preventative maintenance: brush the teeth, eat reasonably healthy food, exercise, get enough rest. Day in and outing we engage in quite a few chores designed to help improve the well-being and longevity of our physical selves.
Put simply, we understand that physical fitness can be a precursor to physical health. Yet, in matters associated with our mental and emotional selves, look for a different story.
Developing habits to nourish and use our mental and emotional selves is just not something regularly considered by most Americans. On the other hand, most of our effort aimed at attending to our emotional and mental needs are more about coddling than fitness. Feeling stressed? Grab a beer with friends. Sadness got you down? Go see the latest blockbuster movie. Anxious about work? Think about a round of golf?
Instead of increasing our mental capacity, we medicate ourselves. We embark on activities to make us feel better in the short run, but without really addressing the main problem which revolves around an insufficient ability to absorb and manage life’s difficulties. It’s like addressing your weight gain by removing each of the mirrors in the house. Sure it could 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 will not refer to the development of knowledge or perhaps mental acuity. It becomes an important point. Many of the mental activities we undertake to build up our minds have very little related to Mental Fitness, as known as here. Examples of activities that DON’T dramatically increase our Mental Fitness levels include:
~ Digesting data included in 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 isn’t to say that these activities aren’t worthy and valuable, for they obviously are necessary in our development as productive and happy people. Even so, for the most part, they’re not helping to increase our capability to synthesize a relatively ease-filled experience in probably the most challenging of circumstances. And cultivating that ease-filled experience is heart of Mental Fitness.
The main element to the understanding Mental Fitness is the notion of capacity. Mental Fitness will be the measure of one’s chance to weather life’s challenges without being thrown unduly off balance. It is the capacity to withstand a layoff, on bearing a health diagnosis, or endure a financial downside to grace, élan, and a a feeling of confident calm.
We all know people like this, who never are ruffled. A layoff? No problem. IRS audit? Fine. A traffic mishap? No biggie. While everyone around them is distributed into tailspins, these folks relax, cool, and collected it doesn’t matter what life throws their way. So what is it about these individuals that makes them so well-equipped to cope artfully with life’s challenges?
You got it right: 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 created in some people than others. And it’s really true, some people appear to be born with a natural power to artfully weather life’s challenges-that is always to say, they are endowed which has a higher than average Mental Level of fitness. But-and this is crucial-this in no way is usually to say that one’s Mental Level of fitness is fixed.
Again, we are able to take clues from your physical realm. For the same is true of our innate fitness and health levels. Some of us are good athletes, others are far from. Despite the fact that we humans can be found in shapes and sizes and physical abilities, whatever one’s natural amount of physical fitness is, we ALL can benefit from exercising our physical selves-and improve our health and fitness and live healthier, happier lives.
So it goes with Mental Fitness.
Because of this we are not victims of our natural level of mental fitness, nor of our own circumstances. Remember, the harder our Mental Fitness, the simpler we can remain undisturbed through the inevitable difficulties that life throws our way. Therefore it paves the way for more happiness and contentment-in good times and bad.
And merely as importantly, developing inside ourselves this regard can serve as an important component within the health of our communities. Fitness and health aids to stop 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 certainly one of increasing our Mental Fitness – our capacity to remain mentally and emotionally undisturbed in additional and varied circumstances, especially in situations that have historically thrown us off balance.
How do I increase my Mental Fitness?
So, all of this begs the question: “How can we increase our Mental Level of fitness?” Surprisingly, it’s simpler and straightforward than you may think, and truly isn’t all that different from the way we build more conditioning!
Think about it. To build our physical capacity, by way of example your capacity to lift weight, your body challenge yourself. To lift more weight, you need to lift more importance. Strength builds while you deliberately lift slightly more weight than you’re more comfortable with. If you can easily lift 80 pounds, lift 85; when you can lift 85 quite easily, move up to 90; and so forth. You’re expanding your ability to weight lifting by always lifting just a bit more than is comfortable and also by staying with the burn.
Exactly the same principle applies if you are working to expand your mental and emotional capacity. Here, too, the invitation remains to be the same: do a extra than is comfortable and turn into with the burn. And also for the expansion of our mental and emotional capacity, rather than needing physical weight to deliver the resistance needed for growth, we need difficulty or challenge.
Here’s the one thing: life’s challenges, people who typically throw us in a tizzy, are for our Mental Fitness, such as the weight is to our physical fitness. They are challenges which can be used to increase our capacity to calmly weather life’s challenges-but provided that we see the opportunities for the purpose they are.
I confess. There’s much more nuance to effectively increasing our Mental Fitness levels than is presented within this simplistic explanation. Nevertheless, the premise remains sound. And also this I know from experience.
The thing is, helping people cultivate optimum mental and emotional fitness is my life’s work. Over time I’ve seen thousands upon thousands of people forge lives of great equanimity and fulfillment even amidst torrents of disappointment and challenges. My chosen tools are used by the ancient wisdom of yoga (tapping the lesser-known emotional and mental aspects of the practice beyond mere yoga postures and breath), that’s not to say these are the only tools which you can use to this end.
Is this orientation toward Mental Fitness a silver bullet? Could it end mental illness and completely prevent future killings and also other such tragedies? Not by a long shot. For that truth is that Mental Fitness can’t completely eradicate mental illness anymore than physical fitness can totally end physical illness.
We are going to always have a need for treatment modalities, facilities, and trained professionals to cope with the needs of those who have slid into mental illness. Equally as we do for those who are physically ill.
But if we could take steps to scale back the incidence for these illness even 5 or 10 or 20 percent, wouldn’t it be worth it?
The invitation here’s to look at the tremendous impact that forging greater conditioning has had on reducing physical illness. And after that orient toward employing those self same principles as a means to increasing our Mental Fitness in lowering the incidence mental illness too.
While the true impact of such a movement is uncertain, this indicates clear from where I sit that people owe it to the victims and categories of these senseless tragedies to no less than give it a try.