I work with people every day helping them achieve their goals. I would say that one third of my clients have goals around their weight and physical health. They work extremely hard day in and day out ensuring that they abide by the right diet and exercise plan to reach their desired weight.
Now I am all for physical health and wellness. I too watch what I eat. I do my best to stick to a lean and clean diet and try to opt for organic produce when possible. I also walk or run for at least an hour every day (most days) and try to sneak in some sit ups and push ups as well.
However, what I have noticed over my years of being a coach is that people are a lot more lax with their mental diet and exercise than they are with their physical. They don’t care nearly as much about what’s on their mind as what’s on their plate, and while it may be obvious that going to the gym builds physical strength, the idea of building mental strength through changing habits and thought patterns seems almost foreign.
This is understandable. We grew up being told to watch what we eat, not watch what we think. We grew up being told to work out our abs not work out our minds.
What if we were as careful with our thoughts as we are with our food? What if we could watch what we feed our mind as much as we watch what we feed our bodies?
This is not a hypothetical question. I want you to actually take a moment – to think about it and to answer it.
I like to practice what I preach, and so I did so too. I took a moment, I thought about it and I answered it. Here are some thoughts and ideas that I arrived at:
- We would love ourselves more Self-love can sound like a bit of a fluffy, maybe even idealistic concept. The idea of “loving yourself” gets thrown around a lot and is rarely substantiated by practical ways to actually achieve it. Our quest for self-love is a long and challenging one. One that certainly doesn’t happen over night. One that takes months, years and sometimes decades of challenging and confronting work. Self-talk is a crucial driver (or detractor) of self-love. Think back over the day you had. What are some of the things you told yourself? Perhaps that those jeans hardly fit you anymore because you’ve gained weight. Or that your presentation sucks, and no-one is going to like it. Perhaps you talked yourself out of going to that party because you wouldn’t fit in. Would you say these things to the person that you love the most in the world? Of course you wouldn’t. What if you spoke to yourself in the same way that you spoke to the people you love? What if you monitored your thoughts and blocked out the ones that were critical and only entertained those that were positive or constructive? I challenge you to try it. I challenge you to start accepting and rejecting the digestion of certain thoughts in the same way you would food. When you see a cream-filled donut, you’re able to say “no” because it doesn’t serve your health goals. So when you see a hate-filled criticism, why not block it out in the same way? For the next week, only allow in the kale smoothie equivalent of your thoughts, and just watch what happens.
- We would have far stronger relationships Think about the last time you felt in a crappy mood. How did you treat the people around you? How much love did you show your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse? How did you treat your friends, colleagues and even strangers? Now contrast that to the last time you felt awesome. When we are feeling happy and confident, we treat those around us with kindness, love and respect. And what makes us feel happy and confident? Well, obviously many things, but some of the big drivers of how we feel are the things we are reading, the things we are watching and the people we are surrounding ourselves with. When we feed ourselves encouraging and inspirational videos and articles, we feel great and want others to as well. When we surround ourselves with people who lift us up and not shut us down, we feel a greater sense of confidence and worth and this energy has a ripple effect on all of the people around us. Start paying attention to your environment and whether it’s clearing or polluting your mind. Amend accordingly.
- We would have greater courage and confidence The food we put in our bodies gives us (or takes away from us) energy and strength. Similarly, the food we feed our mind provides (or detracts) from our levels of courage of confidence. If you spend your days looking at celebrities in mansions and models with airbrushed bodies, how do you start to feel about your own world and life? Probably pretty inadequate. If you spend your life reading all of the crisis stories that big news channels feed us, how do you feel about the world? Probably pretty low and disheartened. I’m not saying stop watching the news entirely but know that for every doomsday story, there is a story of brilliance, of innovation and of restored faith in humanity. Of course, the news channels don’t focus on those ones…but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Today we have an abundance of information – blogs, podcasts, Youtube. I challenge you to find at least one empowering blog or podcast and split your time between that and your traditional channels. Try it for one week and notice how it makes you feel. When we discover the amazing things that people are doing in the world (and trust me, people are doing amazing things!) we feel inspired and empowered! At the end of this article, I’ve provided a list of awesome blogs and podcasts in case you don’t know where to start.
For many years, I have been hearing about the latest cleanse or detox, about people cutting out gluten or going vegan. I’m not against any of these things, and if it makes you feel better, then I’m all for it. But if we could place half as much hype on the diets we give our mind as the ones we give our bodies, what a brighter place we’d be in!
Feed Your Mind the Good Stuff – Here are Some Places to Get Started
- Motivation Grid – motivational quotes, videos and articles
- Pick the Brain – motivation, productivity and health
- Tiny Buddha – happy and peaceful living
- Everyday Power Blog – become the best version of youreslf
- Zen Habits – habits for a happier and peaceful life
- Addicted 2 Success
- Strangers – kind of like a “Humans of New York” in podcast form
- TED Radio Hour, – Discussion between some of TED’s greatest speakers
- Bulletproof Radio – About becoming the best version of yourself, physically, emotionally and mentally
- Stuff To Blow Your Mind – I think the name says it all
- The Mindset Zone– about cultivating a growth mindset
- Here Be Monsters – inspirational stories from amazing people
- The Daily Boost – daily dose of motivation and inspiration
- The Greater Good Podcast – the science of a meaningful life
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