The Mindfulness Routines of Mentally Strong People
People often like to undermine their values by assuming they’re not productive enough. Even I had the harsh habit of believing I simply wasn’t doing enough because my life didn’t match the expectations I wanted.
And yet, at the same time, you’re probably in a place in your life where you can tie your shoelaces by yourself. You managed to learn at least one language by now. (English is my guess. I wonder why.) You probably passed an exam with an A at least once. You probably even graduated from High School or College, and landed a job.
Sure, you probably have a few bad habits on the side. Perhaps you wake up later than you’d like. Perhaps you watch more television or spend more time on the internet doing unproductive things. Heck, even I somehow manage to accidentally kill a few hours on YouTube watching prank videos. I get annoyed whenever I realize how much time I wasted by procrastinating. I get lazy and exhausted after a day of spending it with people.
But I usually like to use a few tips that mentally strong people incorporate into their lives. Are these tips extremely effective? I like to think so considering how far they led me on my journey. But feel free to ignore my advice, send it to a friend in ridicule, use all of my advice, or only use a small portion of it. I won’t be offended either way because I’m pretty grateful you got to this part of the article.
Mentally strong people often carry around an unusual bag of routines that personally relates to them. Not every habit or practice they work on is the same for everyone because everyone is crazy in their own little way. John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, likes to clear his mind by going to the bathroom in between meetings. French novelist, Honore de Balzac consumed as many as 50 cups of coffee each day, barely sleeping during his writing. Sigmund Freud was extremely addicted to smoking even after 33 surgeries on his mouth and jaw to remove the cancer it caused.
Point is, everyone has their strange boost of motivation that drives them to the finish line. Is it always the healthiest way to get it done? To be honest, no. But only because they continued doing that habit for so long, it became one with their life.
There was a time where I had to have several energy drinks a day or else I wouldn’t be able to operate. I’ll just be a grumpy, tired zombie wondering the streets until some heavy caffeine and sugar was placed in me. Luckily, after the realization I was addicted to the sugary substance, I decided to quit, which wasn’t easy. Like seriously, it wasn’t. And I’ll be totally honest with you. I do have a Red Bull or Rock Star every now and then, but only for old time sake.
But let’s go over a few ways to rewire your brain to think of the way of a mentally strong person.
Don’t Give in to the Dark Side
Anger sucks. It doesn’t really help anyone. It doesn’t help the person you’re angry at or yourself. All it does is close your heart and cloud your judgement. But I understand the difficulties in controlling it because logic says it doesn’t make sense to remain angry. And yet, logic seems to get thrown out the window when someone slapped you in the back of the head, or someone stole your iPod.
Everyone has a gap in their emotions that can be penetrated if targeted correctly. It usually points to our insecurities and our anger acts as a means of trying to protect our dignities. When John gets name called by someone at school, there’s two ways he can see the situation:
If I fight Bob, we’ll both most likely be suspended. My parents will be mad at me. I’ll have to catch up on my studies. It might be best to avoid those issues and just walk away.
Or he can keep it real by thinking,
If I don’t fight Bob, everyone’s going to think I’m a wuss. My pride will be lowered and no girls are going to like me. I must protect my honor. This Is Sparta!
It’s annoying to give in to rational thinking rather than quick impulses because it takes more willpower, which exhausts your mind. But by thinking in the long term, it saves you a long road of irritating consequences. Sometimes, the best decision is to lose the small battles and focus on the overall war instead.
If I was about to argue with my girlfriend about whether Pepperoni or Pineapple pizza was the best, chances are anger is going to get the best of us. One of us will change the topic from pizza to personal insecurities such as what we failed at, what we’re flawed in, or the time one of us lost some contest. By the end of the night, we’re not very fond of one another. And all of this could have been avoided by simply accepting her opinion because the results would only turn out negative if continued.
Although it’s natural to want to lash out against someone criticizing you, don’t fight back. Instead, listen to the other person’s emotions and body language rather than the words itself. The reason my girlfriend might be so defensive about the reason Pineapple Pizza is the best is because after dealing with her criticizing boss all day, she needs to feel that desire of correctness. Even if it’s as small as a pizza debate.
But let’s say you have a personal anger issue. You get easily angry at the world and see everything from a negative point of view. Don’t worry. If this is you, accept it. I won’t tell anyone. This secret will be only between the two of us.
Our minds can be very dramatic when in a train of thought. It can make any situation into the worst situation in the world. Which is how anger gets stirred up in the first place. If you’re thinking about possibly failing an exam, you’re thinking of the negative results, what people will think of you, and your own intelligence. Put together these thoughts and you’ll get angry because of what one little test is going to do to your life.
But the next time you get worried or anxious about a particular subject, try replacing those dramatic thoughts with rational ones. Instead of telling yourself, “This is horrible! If I fail this test, my life is ruined! I’ll be homeless! No one will think I’m smart enough! This is the most awful thing in the world!” Tell yourself, “This may be frustrating and annoying, but it’s logic and understandable to be upset about it. I might fail this test, but I can study harder next time and be more prepared in the future. This isn’t the end of the world and I can try again another day.”
Keep in mind that our brains think over 60,000 thoughts per day, and what we say most of the time reflect our most inner thoughts. It’s why people usually like to say we speak what we usually think while drunk. When you’re constantly thinking angry things, you’re bound to say negative things to people. Mentally strong people make an effort to think positive or rational thoughts not because they’re happy hippies. But because of the possible consequences of continuously believing the world is out to get them.
Always remind yourself that your anger isn’t going to solve the problem. It just make things worse. Do this every time you get angry or frustrated whether you’re in traffic, dealing with a difficult person, or your insecurities. Don’t say the first thing that pops to mind because chances are it isn’t a good response to say.
Never act on your assumed conclusions. A mistake I’ve seen men make was getting angry at women because they automatically assumed since they were pretty, they were stuck up. But never assume a story simply because of an assumption you conjured up in your head.
I can honestly assume if I walk out of the house, it’s going to rain and ruin my day. But reality is going to slap me across the face if I attempt to stay in my house for the rest of my life. In the end, I’m going to have to suck it up and face the weather whether it’s sunny, raining, or snowing.
I wouldn’t expect anyone to commit to such a silly goal. Just don’t get angry at the fake results you give yourself. You don’t know if a woman is going to reject you unless you try it out. You’re not going to know if you can land that job unless you send in a job application. Never make false assumptions.
Narrow That Laser Beam!
Do you love having goals? I love having goals. I love imagining new business ideas, new book topics, and ways to become less insane. But the only problem that occurs is when you give yourself so many goals you can’t even keep them in your head.
Back when I started my self development journey, I made the mistake of giving myself more meat than I can eat. I wanted to write several books, start a business, establish a comic, socialize every night, read constantly, exercise and develop an app. I’m surprised I managed to keep up most of the goals on my tasker list for as long as I did. But it sucked because day by day I lost more and more willpower. My drive continued to lower, and my sanity was questionable. Not to mention I was extremely grumpy to anyone who bothered me.
Despite how organized and productive a person can be, it’s not wise to provide themselves with several projects at once. Everyone only have so much willpower before they hit the dirt. And people willpower get drained by making decisions everyday whether big or small. Their willpower gets drained by deciding what to wear in the morning, what to eat, and how to manage negotiation deals.
Thus, make a habit of sacrificing other activities and focus on only 2 – 3 activities. Make sure to choose the top 2 – 3 projects you care about the most. From there, ignore the other things you want to do whether it relates to big goals, relationships, or jobs. This doesn’t mean you have to bury your dreams in the basement. It just means placing them on hold until you have the space to insert it into your life.
Steve Jobs had a variety of gadgets he wanted to invent when he established Apple. He envisioned a virtual iPad years before it was even established. He probably envisioned Toy Story like animations years he even started working on it. But despite the wide range of inventions he had in his head, he placed them on hold so he could mainly focus on the big projects he was working on at the time.
Sometimes narrowing your focus comes with sacrificing a few things. Your willpower can’t reach the level of learning a new instrument, getting a beach body, managing a business, learning a new language and taking a class at night. You’ll exhaust yourself faster than you think.
“But why work on only 2 – 3 goals at a time? Can’t I do other goals during my spare time?”
No. During your spare time, don’t spend it working on your other goals or lower priorities. You might assume it’s okay since those other projects are small, but they will lower your willpower when you return back to your bigger goals. When you find yourself with time to spare, spend it actually doing things you enjoy. Have fun. Read something interesting. Ensure that you give yourself breaks to avoid burning yourself out because you’re trying to finish a line of tasks within a few weeks.
You may have a lot of small errands you want to focus on when you’re working on a goal. They may even distract you. Maybe as you’re working on your business, you constantly think about washing the dishes, walking the dog, or playing with the kids. But don’t break away from your business until you spend the amount of time you need to on it. A recommended timeframe is 20 – 25 minutes per project you work on before you take a 5 minute break.
Mentally strong people make focusing a habit. They focus on only 1 project at a time for a given timeframe before they take a break. Feel free to multi task on your break by walking the dog, goofing off, and playing with your children. But when you work on your project, only focus on that.
Commit yourself to those necessary breaks and get a fresh air out of life. Step away from the computer and take a walk around the neighborhood. Speak to someone on the phone or through text message. Forget about your main project for just a little while.
Although focusing is a good habit to maintain, too much will exhaust your mind and make you fatigue. Thus, by the time you return back to your main project from your break, you’ll be motivated to start it again with fresh ideas.
Get Comfortable Under Those Sheets
You won’t find yourself with that much motivation if you’re constantly paying more attention on keeping your eyelids open. Mentally strong people develop a habit of getting the proper sleep they need every night. The recommended time slot is usually 8 hours, but some can get away with 6 so long as the next day isn’t filled with exhausting tasks.
A mistake I made was assuming all I needed was five hours of sleep to remain productive. Although I managed to complete a range of tasks on my list, it slowly drained me overtime. I became less enthuse about working on something because I didn’t have the mental energy to try my hardest. I slacked in a lot of my work. I took random unexpected naps on my couch or desk.
It might be logical to think sleeping is a waste of time because you’re doing nothing. But you are doing something and that’s giving your body a chance to rest. You spend around 30% of your life sleeping to ensure it keeps your body charged for the remaining percentage. You might have to put a few activities on hold for the next day to make room for going to bed, but it’ll just make it that more exciting when you wake up in the morning.
Does this mean the only way you can live a successful sleep life is by committing to 8 solid hours of sleep every night? Nope. Just like yourself, there were many people before you who thought the same thing. Mozart often continued composing until 1 AM, then would sleep for only five hours before starting all over in the morning. Leonardo da Vinci followed an extreme polyphonic sleep cycle, which consists of taking a 20 minute nap every four hours.
The only reason they managed to commit themselves to such a sleep cycle pattern is because they mentally trained themselves to uphold such a rigid habit. Thus, it is possible to maintain a successful lifestyle with a low sleeping pattern, but it takes 67 days of continuous training before your brain turns it into a habit.
Either way, whether you decide to inhabit 6 hours or sleep or 8 hours, the recommended time to get out of bed is 5 – 6 AM. You get more energy do be productive because you have more time to escape that laziness mindset. You use the morning to take care of mindless activities such as meditating, fixing coffee, reading, or actively moving your body. Doesn’t really matter what it is, so long as they’re low leveled activities that won’t instantly exhaust your willpower immediately.
The goal will be to get you going with the flow with staying productive so when you finish the small tasks, you’ll be motivated to take on bigger issues. You may be a night owl such as myself, but it helps to simply put a few items on hold and save them for the morning.
“But how can I get out of bed early? It’s like super hard dude”
No worries. I know what boat you’re coming from. Although you tell yourself the night before that you want to wake up at a certain time, your mind tends to change beliefs the moment your alarm rings. That is when the art of forming a few habits come into play.
Get your mind familiar with completing a series of necessary tasks that must be completed in the morning. For me, it’s brushing my teeth, shaving, and fixing my hair. From there I check my Facebook to catch up with friends while fixing myself some coffee. I like to watch funny clips or vines for a few minutes to send some humor my direction. I love starting my day off with a laugh. Once I get myself groomed, I read something to boost my day. After I feel satisfied with what I read, I put on my running shoes, put my headphones on and take a jog outside.
I might change it up a little bit from time to time to keep things interesting, but I make my body accustomed to a series of tasks I must complete in the morning. Or else I’ll feel weird or guilty for neglecting them. Developing habits for yourself is critical when waking up in the morning because you’re not doing it for anyone else but yourself. Thus, you have to give yourself a pretty logical reason why it’s important.
Be a Master of Time Travel
Wouldn’t it be awesome to be a time traveler? I’ll probably make a mistake and change a few historical by accident if I had a time machine, but the thought is still nice.
Well as crazy as it might sound, we do have the ability to time travel. But we do so in a different fashion than what’s seen on television. You time travel to your past when you think about the time you were rejected by that cute girl. You time travel to the future when you imagine horrible results after failing a test. Either way, when you use time traveling in a negative fashion, it destroys the effects of living in the present.
Mentally strong people have a lot of things they might have regretted from the past. Maybe they lost their money after dealing with a gambling problem. Perhaps they dealt with an addiction to smoking they couldn’t knock off for years. Maybe they had to get drunk before falling asleep every night.
Mentally strong people also think about the future when it comes to how the future of their company will be affected. They imagine the results of being forever alone with a husband or wife. They imagine how they’ll look in front of a group of people if they messed up on a speech.
But what the mentally strong person does before they get entrapped in either the past or future is by slapping themselves across the face. (Not literally.) They live in the presence by questioning what can they do to improve themselves or help others. They avoid wasting time by dwelling in the past or future.
A mistake I made back in school was constantly dwelling on the future every time a big test was around the corner. I gave myself the belief that if I didn’t pass it with an A, I would be considered a failure. I believed that my entire life would be determined by a small exam I could have easily retaken or tried harder on in the future. But now as I look back at it, I see those moments as being petty and only one small step in my journey. That test I took in 9th grade didn’t affect me today. I can’t even remember most of the tests I took in high school or junior high.
Avoid allowing your worries and regrets to dictate the major parts of your life because it’ll drain your emotions and energy.
“But when is the best time to Time Travel?”
Although there are a lot of dangerous paths to traveling back in time, it can also serve to be an effective tool to use occasionally. Time traveling can be used to view the future you want and to give you a clear route of direction to send you motivation.
You can’t start a giant goal unless you can see the end results. John isn’t going to spend thousands of dollars to open a business when he isn’t picturing what he wants to obtain. He’s going to imagine thousands of people visiting his shop daily to buy what he has on stock.
Like I mentioned earlier, Steve Job was a master of Time Travel because although he clearly imagined what he wanted to invent in the future, he never allowed those thoughts to burden him. He viewed what he wanted to create and placed them on hold until he had the time to work on them on the present.
Mentally strong people view the past as a way to motivate them to prevent themselves from making the same mistakes. When John looks in the past, he isn’t going to depress himself by remembering how he failed his business and label himself as a failure. He’s going to rationally examine the mistakes he made so he could prevent himself from making them again on his next business.
If Thomas Edison continuously remembered all the times he failed, he would have quit a long time ago. If Abraham Lincoln gave up losing several elections, our country would be totally different today.
Point is, you don’t have to be afraid of looking in the past or future, but make a habit of doing so in a healthy way. Live in the present so you can live the life you want rather than in an imagination world of fear.
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