I have been thinking a lot lately about how the muscles we exercise are the muscles that we strengthen. When we focus on our arms or legs we first increase flexibility, endurance, and then begin to see gains. Increases in our ability to lift or move larger objects. The endurance to run longer distances without overexertion. The ability to work harder, longer, faster, etc. All of these capabilities that were not ours at the outset of our exercise become easier for us. This happens too with our mental strength and resilience.
I’m realizing that as I observe and take in information that is primarily negative that these are the mental muscles I am choosing to exercise. When my perspective is of judgement, suspicion, or worst case scenario that is what will likely appear. As I look for the negative I will find it. Much as if I look for the positive I would find evidence of that. The choice is ours of what perspective we decide to bring to our interactions. Am I looking for help, hope, and optimism? OR am I looking for judgement, hurt, and negativity?
When we fixate on the negative or worst case scenario those are the thought patterns we encourage to grow. This happens easily when we fixate on negative news, or patterns. However, we can give ourselves grace as the pursuit of any goal takes time. As we work toward any goal – writing a book, painting, or yoga – we give our attention to that goal. The more time and energy we devote the better we get at that activity. As we focus our attention we learn more. Testing theories and learning from our mistakes.
The mental muscles and the patterns that I want to strengthen are those focused on drawing joy, hope, generosity, light and love into my life. I do that by being attentive to those patterns. By shifting my focus from, “What is wrong with this picture,” to “What is going right here?” Or better yet, “How can I improve this picture?”
With a renewed and optimistic perspective I am striving to make a positive impact not just in my own life but also in the world. This mental strength shift requires intention and attention. It also requires that I do the work of looking for the good in others, in myself, and in the world. It means that my mental strengths need to shift from judgment to support and aid. With time we will start to see the good things first in one another and ourselves.
Let’s try a new mental workout routine to shift our perspectives from disengaged boredom to being the change we wish to see in the world. I hope you will join me.