When I was in my cancer journey, I gained a great appreciation for my yoga practice. Not just the physical benefits, but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual frontiers that yoga opened for me. My guest post from Tim Denning nicely wraps up many of these insights.
Success in any pursuit requires a mentally tough mind. You can have all the resources, but if your mind is a mess, you will fail. I’ve become obsessed with the mind and have tried everything to stack the odds in my favor.
I’ve spent four years training my brain every day to make it see what I want it to see. What do I want my brain to see and hopefully yours too? All the abundance, positivity, and happiness in this world. I want to have less negative thoughts and be driven by my higher self rather than by fear.
It’s time to become like an ancient warrior. It’s time to build resilience that will help you get through even the coldest winter. It’s time to take the game of life to the next level and learn the hidden super power that is a warrior like mental toughness. Are you with me soldier?
***It’s all about discipline
Mental toughness boils down to one thing: discipline. You can make any change you want to your mindset and the way you think, with discipline. Discipline is about not letting the small stuff topple over your tower of happiness.
To have an abundance of mental toughness you have to make a decision. That decision is that you have to decide to be in control. That means not letting events control you but making sure that you decide what those events mean for yourself.
“Fear is our default programming, so if we don’t use discipline to stay in control, then we will fall to the lowest common denominator: negative thoughts, fuelled by either anxiety or depression”
Discipline is about no longer settling for second best. It’s about choosing to make the right decisions which you already intuitively know the answer to. You know you should work before play, eat healthy, exercise, do what you love, and treat people with love and kindness.
You know all of these things, yet you don’t do them when you lack discipline. The best way to always come from a state of discipline is to tie it to your purpose. You need to have a life quest that is more important than anything else in your life.
Then, when you have a decision to make that requires discipline, remind yourself of your purpose, and tell your brain that you will fail at your purpose if you are not disciplined.
By linking the outcome of your purpose to discipline, you rewire your brain to make the best decisions for you. It gives you leverage over your brain to rig the game in your favor.
Here are the 11 easy steps to develop mental toughness:
1. Go one step further
Mental toughness can be developed by going one step further than you believe is possible. If you can currently do 10 chin-ups, try next time for eleven.
If you currently drink two liters of water a day try two and a half tomorrow. If you are doing 8000 steps a day, try 8500 tomorrow. The secret is to go one small step beyond what you mentally believe you can do.
Each day, keep taking another small step, and before you know it, you’ll be progressing further towards your goals that you ever have before.
2. Convince yourself things will go wrong
If you need to prepare for a big goal or event, then you can become mentally tough by telling yourself right from the start that stuff will go wrong. Instead of hoping for everything to be perfect, hope for everything to be mostly good and know that at least one thing will go wrong.
Perfection is a quick way to destroy your mental toughness because nothing is ever exactly how we want it to be. Perfection is how we sabotage our success and veer off track from our goals. Expect a bit of failure in everything you do and then if you get none, you’ll be even happier with yourself.
3. Sleep on negative emotions
So everything goes to hell and hits the fan. That’s cool. As the negative emotions build up in your mind, tell yourself you are going to let them all out except with one catch: sleep on them and commit to doing it tomorrow.
This little hack allows you to become mentally tough because it delays your negative emotional reaction to any circumstance in your life. Rather than getting caught up in the moment, you delay reacting till later. Chances are, if you’re like me, by the time you wake up the next day, the impact of those negative emotions has subsided.
4. Always see Mr. Brightside
When tragedy strikes (and it will), commit to finding at least one thing that’s good about it. Before spending even a second on the negative side, I want you to find at least one positive thought about the situation. It can be as small as you like as long as it’s positive.
5. Focus on a goal, not a dream
One of the attributes of mental toughness is focus. It’s diverting all your mental energy towards one thing and being tough enough not to give up. What I learned from Tim Ferris’s podcast is that if you want to be mentally tough at something, you must make this task a goal, not a dream.
A goal is clearly articulated, has planning involved, comes with a deadline, and typically has some accountability from someone other than you. A dream is a nice to have, but it’s much vaguer. The brain needs things to be told to it in a clear manner and for it to be very specific in order to enable your mental toughness, focus your thoughts, and force you never to give up and execute on your plan.
6. Are you okay with pain?
You can’t be mentally tough without experiencing pain full stop. Pain is guaranteed if you want to be mentally tough; whether you suffer from that pain is your choice.
If you’re going to stay in your womb of a comfort zone and refuse to have any pain, then pal, you’re not going to be mentally tough, successful, wealthy and probably happy either. Being mentally tough is your choice!
7. Break the comfort zone regularly
I live in freezing cold Melbourne, Australia. There’s nothing better than having a nice warm shower every morning to wake me up and make me feel comfortable. WRONG!
To develop my mental toughness I’ve decided to start taking cold showers. That’s right, I blast myself with freezing cold water every day to program my mind to be uncomfortable at least once a day. Slowly but surely, my mind and my body are starting to get used to the discomfort.
It’s these small habits of discomfort that give you the warrior-like way of thinking that can help you succeed in even the most impossible endeavors.
8. The brain only has no much fuel
What sabotages our mental toughness is our brains mental energy. Just like a car, we only have so much fuel before we’re running on empty. The quickest way to lose your mental toughness is to waste your brains fuel on problems that you can’t solve, or negative thoughts that don’t serve you.
Negative thoughts consume twice the brain fuel and give you zero progress towards your goals. Every time you react to a situation, you’re also wasting mental fuel. If that situation doesn’t serve you (like beeping your horn at a motorist), then do what is hard at the start and become more disciplined.
Use your mental energy to inspire you and propel you forward. You’re not stupid, and you know what thoughts serve you, and what thoughts do not. If you find yourself always drowning in negative thoughts and running on empty then maybe it’s the people around you.
Recalibrate your mind, refuel your mind, and practice some personal development. Feed your mind through books and seminars. Give your mind the nutrients it needs through fresh fruit and vegetables or my favorite, a green juice.
9. Prepare the mind
Practicing your craft allows you to be mentally tough in the moment. When you’ve done the same thing over and over, you’re less likely to fail (this is so obvious I shouldn’t even have to say it).
When I’m preparing for a speech, I read it dozens of times. By the time speech day comes, I feel mentally tough because my mind is prepared and knows what it has to do.
The mind becomes weak when it’s required to perform at an extraordinary level and has never had to endure this type of struggle before. Think of it like this: you’d build the muscle first before you entered a weightlifting competition wouldn’t you? The mind is no different.
10. Limit distractions
The quickest way to lose your mental toughness is to become at the mercy of distractions. I’m talking about technology. You can’t be mentally tough when your phone keeps ringing, buzzing, or flashing. Turn the freaking social media notifications off, and sit down and work on your craft in a focused, mindful, silence.
11. Believe you can win
Mentally tough champions think slightly different; they show up to any competition or task with the belief that they can win. You can have all the positive thoughts in the world, but if you don’t believe you have it in you to win, then you’re going to flunk out of the race.
“Believing you can win is more crucial than how you perform on the day”
It’s your mentally strong mind that can push through the inevitable pain to get you where you want to go. If every other part of you is prepared to achieve the impossible and your mind isn’t, again, you will fail at your goal.
[…] still an obstacle to achieving your desired goals. These are all tests of your character and mental toughness. Remember that, in spite of not being able to create perfection and take control over everything […]