Tough times are inevitable in life, whether you're dealing with a serious health problem or you're faced with a financial crisis. And it's during those tough times that your mental strength will be tested.
Without adequate mental strength, life's challenges can fill you with self-doubt and anxiety. Those uncomfortable feelings can then lend way to negative thinking. This will affect your behavior, which can inadvertently turn your catastrophic predictions into self-fulfilling prophecy.
Staying strong in the midst of hardship requires you to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Paying attention to all three of these areas will help you emerge from your struggles even stronger than before. To remember how to stay strong during life's toughest challenges, follow this 7 formula:
You cannot find peace by avoiding life. Life spins with unexpected changes every hour; so instead of avoiding it, take every change and experience as a challenge for growth. Either it will give you what you want or it will teach you what the next step is.
Finding peace and happiness in life does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no challenges, and no hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things while remaining calm in your heart. It’s about letting go of the pictures in your head about how things were “supposed to be.”
Of course, this isn’t easy – it will be an ongoing struggle. But it’s infinitely easier than continuing to fight to conform your life to some antiquated delusion. It’s an infinitely more satisfying journey as well. When it’s working, when you can detach from those old images, there is peace, there is beauty, and there is happiness.
Honestly, life is too short to spend at war with yourself. The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations. Letting go of needless expectations is your first step to happiness. Come from a mindset of peace and acceptance, and you can deal with almost anything and grow beyond it.
Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you get hurt, you heal. After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning, but still you often forget, and instead choose to believe that the night will go on forever. It won’t. Nothing lasts.
So if things are good right now, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. You just have to take it and make the best of it. (Read The Last Lecture.)
After studying the lives of many successful people, I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful people from everyone else is pure perseverance. In a culture that seeks quick results, we must learn the beauty of effort, patience and perseverance. Be strong, present and steadfast.
The most beautiful smiles are usually the ones that struggled through the tears. Because breakdowns often lead to breakthroughs in the end. Every mistake, heartbreak and loss contains its own solution, its own subtle lesson on how to improve your performance and outcome next time. Thus, the most reliable way to predict the future is to create it yourself. Participate in life today instead of just watching it pass you by. Don’t let the few things that are out of your control interfere with the infinite assortment of things you can control.
The truth is we all lose sometimes. The greater truth is that no single loss ever defines us. Learn from your trials. Grow wiser. Press on.
In the end, good things don’t come to those who wait; good things come to those who are patient… while working hard, through good times and bad, for what they want most in life. It’s about courage. It’s about being scared to death and then taking the next step anyway.
There may not be an obvious reason to be positive today, but you don’t need a reason. Being positive is a strategy, not a response. The most powerful time to be positive is precisely when everything around you is not so positive.
Happiness in the long run is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Raise your awareness to your own inner strength and positivity. You are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life, or you can choose to be positive instead by focusing on the great things that are truly important. So talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems today.
In other words, don’t wait for a reason to be positive. Choose to be positive about your situation, about your possibilities, and about what you can do to move forward from here. Instead of looking for reasons to be positive, look for ways to express your positive vision. Work to make your life resonate with that vision, and enjoy all the rewarding outcomes you create.
Don’t build mountains in your mind. Don’t try to conquer the world all at once. When you seek instant gratification (big, quick fixes) you make life unnecessarily painful and frustrating. When you choose instead to treat each moment as an opportunity to make a tiny, positive investment in yourself, the rewards come naturally.
When everything is broken, it’s easy to find plenty of little things you can fix. When nothing seems to be going right, even the most fundamental positive effort can make a significant difference. Times of great adversity are also times of great opportunity. When there are problems in every direction, there is also great value waiting to be created. When everything is going well, it’s easy to get lulled into a routine of complacency. It’s easy to forget how incredibly capable and resourceful you can be. Resolve to persevere by making tiny fixes every day. It’s these minor tweaks that take you from where you are to where you want to be in the long run.
Small steps, little leaps, and tiny fixes (very small repetitive changes) every day will get you there, through thick and thin.
You may not have what you want, and you may be very hurt, but you still have more than enough to appreciate right now. Epicurus once said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Meditate on this quote when life seems unfair.
Remember that being positive in a negative situation is not naive; it’s a sign of leadership and strength. You’re doing it right when you have so much to cry and complain about, but you prefer to smile and appreciate your life instead. So don’t pray for the big miracles and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, simple, and yet not-so-small gifts in your life. It may seem strange to feel thankful for those events in your life that appear to be ordinary, yet it’s precisely by being thankful that you can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Think about it: What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were thankful for today?
Think of all the beauty that still remains around you, notice it and smile.
At the end of the day, it’s not happiness that makes us thankful, but thankfulness that makes us happy. Showing appreciation for the good things you have is the most powerful happiness boosting activity there is.
Resisting and ignoring your own feelings and emotions does not serve you. It leads to stress, illness, confusion, broken relationships, fits of anger and bouts of deep, dark depression. Anyone who’s experienced any of the above knows that these states of mind are horrifically unhealthy… and when you’re in the habit of self-neglect, it’s near impossible to escape.
You have to admit, to a certain extent, you have spent too much of your life trying to shrink yourself. Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less YOU. Because you didn’t want to be too much or push people away. You wanted to fit in. You wanted people to like you. You wanted to make a good impression. You wanted to be wanted.
So for years, you sacrificed yourself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, you suffered.
But you’re tired of suffering, and you’re done shrinking. Right? Good!
It’s not your job to change who you are in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. You are worthwhile. Not because other people think you are, but because you are breathing your own air, and therefore you matter. Your thoughts matter. Your feelings matter. Your voice matters. And with or without anyone’s approval or permission, you must be who you are and live your truth. Even if it makes people turn their heads. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave.
Refuse to shrink. Choose to take up lot of space in your own life. Choose to give yourself permission to meet your own needs. Choose to honor your feelings and emotions. Choose to make self-care a top priority…Choose yourself!
1. Focus on the moment. The challenges that come along from time to time are a test of our willingness to stretch and change. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the situation or procrastinate in developing solutions. The challenge is here and the difficulty is now. Focus your energy on the present moment; don't lose what is right before you. When you focus on the moment you come to realize where you have the most power to make things right.
2. Embrace adversity. Mental strength gives us the ability to see the obstacles in our path as stepping stones. When we encounter struggle, and we all do, we can be inspired by the knowledge that it's not a dead end but a path to deeper knowledge and understanding.
3. Exercise your mind. Just like your muscles, your mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. Growth and development take consistent work, and if you have not pushed yourself recently, you might not be growing as much as you can. Mental strength is built through lots of small wins, maintained through the choices we make every day. To gain stamina, take on a daily task that stretches your mental endurance.
4. Challenge yourself. Albert Einstein once said, "One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts." Underestimating yourself and playing it safe hold you back from success. When you believe in yourself and your abilities, you often can go beyond the imaginable.
5. Respond positively. You cannot control everything that comes your way, but you are in absolute control of how you react to everything that comes your way. What happens to you is important--but not as important as your response. Incredible progress can happen in your life and leadership when you take control of your reactions.
6. Be mindful. Mindfulness means taking control of your focus and being intentional about what you give your attention to. Whether it's an emotion, a thought, a belief, an impulse, or something in the environment, mindfulness calls us to approaching everything with a curious, nonjudgmental, open, and accepting attitude. To be the most resilient and mentally strong, make the time to be mindful so you can focus on what you truly want.
7. Don't be defeated by fear. To be resilient and mentally strong means knowing how to deal with fear. When you enter frightening situations with the awareness that it's an opportunity for you to grow, trust outweighs fear.
8. Be aware of self-talk. We're often so busy worrying about how we talk to others that we sometimes lose track of the way we talk to ourselves. Make a point of being as positive and supportive of yourself as you are of others, because when times get tough you have to be able to believe you can make it through. Replace self-doubt with positivity.
9. Rid yourself of can't. When you feel like you can't do something, keep your focus positive. You just have to do it. The mentally strong weed out the words like can't, never, and should--replacing them with can, could, and when.
10. Stumble toward success. Winston Churchill once said, "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." Perseverance gives you the ability to face any difficulty, any challenge, any setback without being defeated. It's better to have a lifetime full of small failures that you learned from rather than one filled with the regret of never having tried.
11. Find solutions. There will be always problems-- every business has complications and any endeavor has hurdles, but if you can learn to focus 90 percent of your time on solutions and only 10 percent on problems, you'll be able to respond effectively instead of spinning your wheels.
12. Be grateful. In the business of our busy lives we neglect many of the basic concept of recognition but gratitude gives us fortitude. Gratitude can transform any common day into a thanks giving day and turn routine jobs onto joy and change ordinary opportunities into something we get grateful about.
13. Brace yourself for the storms. Adversity is inevitable. Be as well-prepared as you can so you can fight them with strength and push through to blue skies.
14. Define your moments. When you find yourself doubting how far you can go, remember how far you have come. Give yourself credit for everything you have faced, for the battles you have won, for the fears you've overcome.
15. Make it an everyday pursuit. Most mental strength is built and demonstrated not in exceptional circumstances but in the day-to-day of life and leadership.
Positivity, preparation, willingness, discipline, focus, and a long view will all serve you well. Practice mental toughness and you'll soon be amazed at how strong you've become.