Clearly, this immunity to being buffeted by life’s ups and downs seems to be more naturally developed in some people than others. And it’s true, some people seem to be born with a natural ability to artfully weather life’s challenges that is to say, they are endowed with a higher than average Mental Fitness level. But-and this is crucial, this in no way is to say that one’s Mental Fitness level is fixed.
Again, we can take clues from the physical realm. For the same is true of our innate physical fitness levels. Some of us are natural born athletes, others are anything but. Despite the fact that we humans come in shapes and sizes and physical abilities, no matter what one’s natural level of physical fitness is, we all can benefit from exercising our physical selves, and improve our physical fitness and live healthier, happier lives.
And so it goes with Mental Fitness.
This means that we are not victims of our natural level of mental fitness, nor of our circumstances. Remember, the greater our Mental Fitness, the easier we can remain undisturbed by the inevitable difficulties that life throws our way. So it paves the way for more happiness and contentment in good times and bad.
And just as importantly, developing ourselves in this regard can serve as an important component in the health of our communities. Physical fitness aids to stave off 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 one of increasing our Mental Fitness our capacity to remain mentally and emotionally undisturbed in more and varied circumstances, especially in situations that have historically thrown us off balance.
How do I increase my Mental Fitness?
So, this all begs the question:
How do we increase our Mental Fitness level
Surprisingly, it’s more simple and straightforward than you might think, and truly is not all that different from the way we build more physical fitness.
Think about it. To build our physical capacity, for example your capacity to lift weight, you physically challenge yourself. To lift more weight, you need to lift more weight. Strength builds as you deliberately lift just a bit more weight than you’re comfortable with.
If you can easily lift 80 pounds, lift 85, once you can lift 85 without difficulty, move up to 90, and so on. You’re expanding your capacity for weight lifting by always lifting just a bit more than is comfortable and by staying with the burn.
The same principle applies when you’re working to expand your mental and emotional capacity. Here, too, the invitation remains the same: do a bit more than is comfortable and stay with the burn. But for the expansion of our mental and emotional capacity, rather than needing physical weight to provide the resistance needed for growth, we need difficulty or challenge.
Here’s the thing: life’s challenges, the ones that typically throw us into a tizzy, are for our Mental Fitness, like the weight is to our physical fitness. They are challenges that can be used to increase our capacity to calmly weather life’s challenges-but only if we see the opportunities for what they are.
I confess, there is much more nuance to effectively increasing our Mental Fitness levels than is presented in this simplistic explanation. Nevertheless, the premise remains sound. And this I know from experience.
You see, helping people cultivate optimum mental and emotional fitness is my life’s work. Over the years 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 drawn from the ancient wisdom of yoga tapping the lesser, known mental and emotional aspects of the practice beyond mere yoga postures and breath, but that is not to say these are the only tools that can be used to this end.
Is this orientation toward Mental Fitness a silver bullet
Will it end mental illness and completely stave off future killings and other such tragedies? Not by a long shot. For the truth is that Mental Fitness can’t completely eradicate mental illness any more than physical fitness can totally end physical illness.
We will always have a need for treatment modalities, facilities, and trained professionals to address the needs of those who have slid into mental illness. Just as we do for those who are physically ill.
But if we could take steps to reduce the incidence of such illness even 5 or 10 or 20 percent, wouldn’t it be worth it.