Peak Week Every Week. 5 Steps Towards Optimal Mental Fortitude.
This week has been one of those weeks where things just don’t flow properly. It’s the type of week where each day blurs into the next. All your commitments just seem to butt heads with one another. You are fighting exhaustion though you have no real reason to be tired. You play into your “ok” mood by giving only 75% effort towards everything and then feel poorly about it later wishing you had tried harder at whatever it was. Here’s the real kicker, this is a completely normal cycle to find yourself in. Inspiration and drive is not a limitless resource, they are skills. Just like with any skill you have to practice, practice, practice. Consistency and effort are key. So you had a bum week? That’s ok because I am here to tell you that the mere act of you recognizing your week was sub par means you are already on track to making the next one better. We are all trying to break poor habits and it is incredibly hard work. Falling off the wagon is a part of the process as long as you are willing to recognize where you went wrong and get back on. Staying off and drifting far away from your path is when you run into trouble.
In a book I am reading the Dalai Lama outlines 5 steps towards bringing forth positive self change and the desire to make it lasting. He defines these steps as education, conviction, determination, action, and effort. This is a cascading list, meaning you cannot have the conviction to change without the knowledge that change is needed. And so on. So here’s how it works.
1. Education and knowledge
Recognizing that you aren’t operating at full effectiveness is a critical first step. So many people spend years of their lives in ruts because they do not know that they are in said rut, or perhaps they continue a habit that is bad simply because they do not know how it is affecting them. In the mid 20th century the general public was unaware of how adverse the effects of smoking were and the general number of smokers was much higher than it is today. When the public became educated on these health issues we saw a huge drop in the number of smokers of each generation. Because of this increase in knowledge the hazy veil of ignorance was lifted off of the situation and the need for change could be seen. You can see this ignorance veil still affecting other countries, such as in asia, where this type of info is not so readily available and smoking numbers are still high. There is an old saying of, “there’s no way to know that which you do not know”. Remember this when you are looking at your daily habits. Perhaps something is effecting you in a certain way, positive or negative. Is there any aspect of your day to day life that you suspect may be holding you back you just don’t know how? Don’t be afraid to seek out your own faults and hiccups!
Have you ever seen one of those sad dog commercials that last way too long? Remember that feeling of wanting to call the number and give them your credit card for monthly donations? Those commercials are effective for two reasons. They inform you on an injustice that you did not previously know about; then they play into your human nature and the desire to help those which are helpless, in this case it is dogs. They aren’t just playing into your good nature, they are incepting a conviction for action. You don’t just feel sad for the puppies you actually WANT to help. This is conviction. That initial fire and slap of motivation to get something done. This feeling is great for getting you off the couch, but relying on this raging fire to always be there is a fool’s erand. True and lasting motivation feels nothing like strong conviction, but conviction can always be induced for short periods of time. In the very same way that you want to help every time the dog commercial is on you will always be able to recall that feeling of motivation for positive self change if you focus and meditate on it. This way you don’t rely on that intense burn to always be present but you know that you can use it to re ignite your long term motivation if things become lackluster. Use this to your advantage and as a reminder but don’t expect every day to be one raging ball of drive and motivation.
At this point your knowledge has led to a strong conviction. You have recognized the need for change and you feel the desire to make that change. Determination is where the rubber meets the road. It is time for you to turn your newly cultivated conviction into a determined mindset for action. Use this determination to serve as a cornerstone of your newly refined personal ethos. Learn about your Ethos here. At this point in your journey you are still inwardly focused. You are primed and ready to create the mindset that nothing will stand in your way, not even yourself. You are open to everything positive and closed off only to which has previously set you astray. Your determination morphs into a part of your being. A very fiber of what composes your existence, not just words that escape your lips. When you are able to cultivate this level of determination you can proceed with confidence in your actions because you know that no matter the obstacles your ethos will not break and you are in this for the long haul.
Ok. It is time to do the thing. Your inward searching has been completed, your mind and soul are prepared for what lies ahead. Your body now must follow suit and propel itself into the uncomfortable unknown in a leap of faith where the strong survive and the week relapse. The only way to live a lifetime is one minute at a time. Everybody’s seconds tick at the same speed, how many of those seconds a person can endure despite the sweet calls of rest and familiarity will separate the elite from the sheep. Is your ethos strong enough? Did you cultivate your conviction? Now is when you find out. I am going to let you in on a pro tip, it is hard for everybody. If you aren’t waging internal battles every day against your old self then you are doing something wrong. This is supposed to be hard, but you can do it just as many others have done before you. It may be the path less traveled by, but it has been traveled before.
The best piece of advice I ever picked up in a smelly weight room was this, “It isn’t what you do, it’s how you do it.” Despite common belief greasy buff men sometimes pass knowledge that is applicable in the outside world. This being one of those times. There is a belief that everything, including yourself, is made up of an energy. This energy is changed at our desire and will obey what we want if we are willing to give up our own energy in the faith that it will return stronger and brighter. The idea is that it doesn’t matter what you are doing, if you aren’t doing it with your full heart, if you aren’t willing to give up all of your energy then no positive change will happen. No energy will find it’s way back to you. Your mind, body, and spirit don’t lie to each other. If you don’t have pure intentions behind what you are doing, if you don’t truly want something to happen then the changes either won’t come or they won’t stay if they do come. It is the willingness to put everything you have on the line every single day towards a goal that will produce widespread change. This is where your conviction comes in. If you find yourself not wanting to put in all your effort then you should go back to step 2 and see if this is something that convicts you. But if you do put in full effort and emit that positive energy the changes you desire and chase will start to present themselves to you. Nobody who ever put their heart and soul into something ever left empty handed.
I hope you all have a good week this week.
Originally published at tjstrength.co on July 6, 2016.