HOW TO BE MENTALLY TOUGH

      What do good leaders, good athletes, and good parents have in common? Why do some people succeed at their goals while others fail? Some might assume that all of these successful people are the smartest in their class, the most talented, the most agile, the most creative or some other characteristic that makes them somehow at an advantage, but guess what?!...it isn't any of those things. Good news right?!! Well, yeah...but it also eliminates any reason for excuse. The only thing in your way is YOU so own it and ask yourself an important question: WHY NOT ME?

     What if I told you there were very specific things you could do to improve the one thing that separates the success stories from the statistics? Awesome. So it can summed up in a single word- GRIT. I call it mental toughness and consider it to be an invaluable characteristic. It's something you can always improve upon. Your mental toughness, or grit is the perseverance and passion that pushes you to achieve long-term goals and it's what makes all the difference in the world!

     You may be wondering how something like your mental toughness can be increased, and it all comes down to being consistent. Consistency is key! Mentally tough athletes, leaders, artists, writers, parents etc. are overall more consistent with their behavior. With that being said, we can understand that mental toughness is about your habits and not your motivation.

     I'm always here to keep it as real as possible (coming from my own perspective, of course), so I'd be lying if I said it's always easy to stay motivated or that I have impeccable will power. No. Will power comes and goes and motivation isn't overflowing all the time. Mental toughness is built over time through daily habits. Being consistent is what allows you to overcome challenges and distractions with greater ease. Remember...it doesn't actually get easier. You get better!

     Don't worry- I'm not going to simply say better habits are the key to success without giving you 7 specific habits to cultivate the vital trait because successful people don't just prioritize- they consistently keep up with the behaviors that they've decided are most important. 

1. Never allow yourself to whine. (Or complain. Or criticize.)

I started with this one because it is what I need the most work on! When I am sick or in pain- EVERYONE KNOWS IT!!! I need to try to correct this type of behavior because words have power, especially over you. Whining about your problems always makes you feel worse, not better. So if something is wrong, don't waste time complaining. Put that mental energy into making the situation better. I mean, unless you want to whine about it forever, eventually you'll have to make it better...right?!!? So don't bother wasting time- Fix it now. Don't talk about what's wrong...talk about how you'll make things better, even if that conversation is only with yourself. Do the same with your friends or colleagues. Don't just serve as a shoulder they can cry on. Friends don't let friends whine; friends help friends make their lives better.

2. Focus on impressing yourself- ONLY yourself.

This, on the other hand, has always been a stronger point for me. I always had an understanding that people don't like you for your clothes, your car, your possessions, your title, or your accomplishments. Those are all things. People may like your things--but that doesn't mean they like you. Of course, superficially they might seem to like you, but what's superficial is also insubstantial, and a relationship not based on substance is not a real relationship. Genuine relationships make you happier, and you'll only form genuine relationships when you stop trying to impress others and start trying to just be yourself. As you're becoming the kind of person you'd be impressed by- you're also inspiring others to live their best lives too. You'll have a lot more mental energy to spend on the people who really do matter in your life when you're not focused on people who are only interested in superficial things.

3. Act as if you are in total control at ALL TIMES.

I think many people feel that luck has a lot to do with success or failure. If they succeed, luck favored them, and if they fail, luck was against them. Most successful people do feel good luck played some role in their success; however, they don't wait for good luck or worry about bad luck. They act as if success or failure is totally within their control. If they succeed, they caused it. If they fail, they caused it. OWN your story, you're responsible for writing yourself as a leading character in the story of your life. Act like it. By not wasting mental energy worrying about what might happen to you, you can put all your effort into making things happen. (And then, if you get lucky, hey, you're even better off.) You can't control luck, but you can definitely control you. Pour your effort into yourself and let it overflow onto others.

4. Look at the past as valuable training and nothing more.

The past is valuable. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others. Then let it go. Easier said than done right? I guess it depends on your perspective. When something bad happens to you, see it as an opportunity to learn something you didn't know. I seriously try to learn something new every single day...as cliche' as that might sound it's the truth and a lot of times those lessons come from mistakes. When another person makes a mistake, don't just learn from it--see it as an opportunity to be kind, forgiving, and understanding. The past is just training; it doesn't define you. Say it out loud: MY PAST DOESN'T DEFINE ME. Think about what went wrong in situations, but only in terms of how you will make sure that next time, you and the people around you will know how to make sure it goes right.

5. Don't waste energy on things you have no ability to impact.

Mental strength is like muscle strength--no one has an unlimited supply of it. So why waste your power on things you can't impact? For some people, it's politics...others, it's family or it's global warming. Whatever it is, you care, and you want others to care too. Totally understandable. Do what you can wherever you find yourself: Vote. Lend a listening ear. Recycle, and reduce your carbon footprint. Do what you can do to impact the situation in a positive way. Be your own change--but don't try to make everyone else change. They won't.

6. Celebrate the success of others.

I love this one because I guarantee some people you know- maybe even yourself- view success as something that there's only so much to go around. When someone else shines, they think that diminishes their own light. It doesn't. Resentment sucks! Like it literally sucks up a massive amount of mental energy. You could apply that energy better elsewhere. When a friend does something really cool, that doesn't preclude you from doing something equally awesome. In fact, where success is concerned, birds of a feather tend to flock together--lol. We've heard that one before right? Draw your successful friends even closer. Don't resent awesomeness- appreciate it. Create and celebrate awesomeness, wherever you find it, and in time you'll find even more of it in yourself. I promise!

7. Practice gratitude.

Take a few moments each night before you turn out the light and, in those moment, quit worrying about what you don't have. Try not to focus on what you don't want...instead focus very clearly on what you DO want. Quit worrying about what others have that you don't. Life is not about comparing--it's about cooperating. Trending expectations for appreciations will improve your quality of life drastically. Think about what you DO have. You have a lot to be thankful for so don't take those things for granted. Feels pretty good, doesn't it? Feeling your best is the ultimate way to recharge your mental batteries.

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