The mentally strong have daily habits, often done without thinking, which allow them to perceive and do things differently to attract success. Special forces soldiers have this exact mindset which can be implemented by anyone. You just have to be aware of these habits and make them a part of your daily routine. Aristotle once said; ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit.’ Here are a number of habits which you can begin to implement today to aid your mental strength:
MENTAL EXERCISE #1: TOLERATE DISCOMFORT
Nothing great in life is worth pursuing without the inevitability of challenges. Respond positively. Don’t take it out on others. That’s your discomfort to manage. Be kind, for everyone else is fighting a harder battle. Don’t disappear and let others handle a situation. Most importantly, don’t play the victim. Take charge of the situation, assess the risks, make a plan and continue to learn. No failing. Either you win or you learn. If you tell yourself that everything will be alright in the end, and believe it, you will have control over your mind.
MENTAL EXERCISE #2: PRACTISE GRATITUDE
Gratitude is fantastic for mental wellbeing. Write down three things you are grateful and thankful for. Don’t take these things for granted. This exercise will help you remain positive and more likely to focus on what matters most. It shields you from negativity and rewires your brain. Practising gratitude has also been shown to improve sleep and boost self- esteem. Try it today.
MENTAL EXERCISE #3: BE STUBBORNLY PERSISTENT
Don’t take no for an answer. There is no need to be 100% stubborn, but if you are totally motivated to meet your goals and have met a hurdle, there are subtle ways to keep pushing. You can make some changes and try resubmitting. Explain the rationale behind your work. Learn more about the subject area before pushing forward again. Don’t lose faith. There is no such thing as ‘can’t’: Try and learn as you go, find someone who can teach you or plan. When doing something you’ve not done before, keep an open mind. The only thing that can stop you, is you.
MENTAL EXERCISE #4: ACCEPT CHALLENGES
Don’t give up after the first hurdle. Success isn’t immediate. Learn to bounce back. Look at the big picture. Tough times will come and go, but sticking it out through adversity will strengthen you mentally. Great things never came from comfort zones. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
MENTAL EXERCISE #5: MAKE PEACE WITH THE PAST
Dwelling on the past doesn’t solve anything. Instead, be in the moment and look toward the future. Never be a prisoner to the past – It was a lesson, not a life sentence. Stop cheating on your future with your past. It’s over.
MENTAL EXERCISE #6: PICK YOUR BATTLES
Some battles are not worth your time. Pick battles that are big enough to matter and small enough to win. Is this worth your time or is there something more important which requires your attention? More often than not, peace is better than being right. If need be, prepare an exit strategy and don’t sweat the small stuff. Walk a mile to avoid a fight, but when one starts, don’t back down an inch.
MENTAL EXERCISE #7: SET ASIDE ALONE TIME
Solitude can help personal growth, productivity and creativity. Quiet is a beautiful thing. ‘Being alone has a power that very few people can handle’, Steven Aitchison.
MENTAL EXERCISE #8: STAY TRUE TO VALUES
Don’t have trouble taking responsibility. Don’t blame others. Don’t point your finger at others when something goes wrong. Aligning your priorities with your beliefs, even when they’re not popular, takes inner strength. Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain.
MENTAL EXERCISE #9: ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY
Be a product of your decisions. Focus on your efforts. Accept criticism, acknowledge your own flaws and don’t keep scores. ‘The moment you accept responsibility for everything in life is the moment you gain the power to change it’, Hal Elrod.
MENTAL EXERCISE #10: LEARN FROM MISTAKES
Don’t make the same mistake over and over. Write a reflective plan to stop the same mistakes from happening in the future. Your mistakes don’t define you. They don’t define your character. Don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them down and use them as stepping stones to raise your mental state. Making mistakes is better than faking perfections. Your best teacher is your last mistake. Winston Churchill once remarked that ‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’
MENTAL EXERCISE #11: DON’T BEG FOR ATTENTION
Your ego does not need fuelling. Be so focused on your own goals that the opinions of others are totally irrelevant. Don’t rely on others to form your identity. Your mood and state of mind shouldn’t change depending on who you are with. Realise that what you do is important to you and don’t worry about fitting in. Find gratification from within.
Don’t sacrifice your time for people who wouldn’t do the same for you. Don’t spend time and money trying to impress people you don’t care about. Friendship is important for mental strength and wellbeing. It is a source for constructive criticism and opportunities. There are always people who can help in times of need. Find these people. Find a mentor.
MENTAL EXERCISE #12: DELAYED GRATIFICATION
Everyone wants to be rewarded instantly, but focus on what needs to be done and have faith in timing. Success takes time and sacrifice. Be prepared to make both. Don’t give in to temptations. Don’t give up easily or quickly. Show up even when no one applauds you for it. ’The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success’, Brian Tracy. ‘Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most’, Abraham Lincoln. Discipline is a core military value.
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