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Mental Fitness: Choose a Positive Mindset Amid Adversity


Wed Jun 09 2021

Mental Fitness: Choose a Positive Mindset Amid Adversity

You know where your brain resides, but where does your mind live?

All jokes aside, there is the muscle of the brain and the muscle of the mind. Based on a large ongoing body of research, we know a lot about little. There is so much more to learn; however, what we do know in basic terminology is that there are four parts to the brain.

  • The limbic system. Known as the old brain or the lizard brain, the limbic system is the part of the brain that controls basic emotions (such as fear, anger, and pleasure) and instinctual drives (such as hunger and procreation).

  • The left side. While the left and right sides of the brain work together, the left side of the brain is the box checker, travel planner, and accountant. It is concerned with the logistics of life.

  • The right side. This side of the brain is interested in creating new ways to experience life. It likes to generate new boxes to check then remove the boxes. It thrives on coming up with new ideas and living in the moment.

  • The prefrontal cortex. The front part of your brain just behind the forehead is responsible for complex behavior, cognition, successful decision making, and the ability to express and evolve in powerful ways. This is where the magic happens related to organizing and orchestrating our thoughts then manifesting them into reality.

In his book Mindsight, author Daniel Siegel explains that you can tell your old brain that your emotional response doesn’t have to define you. You can choose your emotional response by becoming more aware of your choices and how things work with your mind.

According to the research behind positive intelligence, we can practice intercepting any negative messaging we send to ourselves. We can then choose to use our inner sage powers to identify the gifts in any adversity and choose our emotional response with intention. For this to be possible, we have to build the muscle of our brains.

Based upon my research related to intellectual brainwave games, we know how to build the muscle of our brains and keep our internal battery charged. This is done by engaging the eight positive triggers for brain health, according to Siegel and many other researchers.

It comes down to this: building the muscle of your brains means you must be able to improve your mental fitness.

When you meet a challenge in life, professionally or personally, do you react with a positive mindset or negative one? The capability and capacity to choose is the basic definition of mental fitness and being able to do so in real time. Here’s another way to think about your current level of mental fitness:

  • Out of every four thoughts you have, are at least three positive?

  • What about out of every 100 thoughts? Are at least 75 of them positive?

  • What about out of every 10,000 thoughts?

According to Barbara Fredrickson, when 75 percent or more of our thoughts are positive, we tend to flourish. When 69 percent or more of our thoughts are negative, we tend to languish or struggle. Becoming mentally fit requires moving toward having 75 percent or more of your thoughts be authentically positive. To do that, we must become aware of our inner saboteurs, learn how to intercept them, and practice the art of self-command, which goes back to building the muscle of the brain and working out the muscle of our mind with mental fitness reps.

For more insights, join me during the ATD 2021 International Conference & Exposition for the session Life and Work Reimagined: Overcoming Adversity, Stress, and Isolation.

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