Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mental Gymnastics: Becoming a Mental Powerhouse! Part II

power and the mind
Power and the mind (Photo credit: Will Lion)
by Edward Lewellen

Mental lethargy is the reason the U.S. has fallen from being the most respected nation in the world.

There is an outcry against the physical lethargy in this country and there are many organizations that are seeking to correct that. But, few people are triumphing the stimulating of the mental energies!

What can you do to help yourself and others?

1) Live intentionally

I recently read an article by Deepak Chopra on LinkedIn about living consciously. What he said makes so much sense to me because it's the same thing I have taught for years. As you read in Part I of this series, I believe that most people live life unconsciously, without much thought.

What this means is that most people don't know their true purpose for being. Or, if they do, they aren't living congruent with their purpose. So, living intentionally and with your real purpose is the basis for becoming a mental powerhouse. It gives you direction and meaning.

2) Require excellence from yourself and what you do

I was rather inspired by a conversation I recently had with a new acquaintance. During our hour-long conversation, he repeatedly used the word "excellence" when describing what he wants to be, wants to do, even who he chooses to have as clients he requires that they are wanting to achieve excellence.

By excellence, I don't mean being nit-picky and fault-finding. People like that are gutless individuals that are looking for an easy way out or to tear someone else down to their level. Synonyms for excellence are: fineness, brilliance, distinction and quality.

When you require excellence from yourself, it means that you aren't going to settle for the mundane, like what I described in Part I. You will be looking to find the next gem, the next nugget of life that will raise you up, make you shine, and distinguish you from your peers.

3) Look for freshness in life

Again, as I mentioned in Part I, instead of taking the same path to work and many times not even knowing how you got there, why not try a different route?

You know by now that I love to tell stories, so here's one for you: I recently was on my way home. I was going my usual route until I noticed a road that I don't pay much attention to, other than to watch for cars exiting it. I decided, "Why not? Why not take it to see where it leads me?"

What I discovered was a better way home! It helps me avoid some long-term road construction going on and is just plain easier. My point is that we can find ways to make out lives more interesting and enjoyable if we just look for, and appreciate, the "little" things.

4) Do mental gymnastics

What are mental gymnastics? When you consider that any professional athlete practices their sport repeatedly and for many hours to get the results on the field, on the court, on the track, or wherever their sport takes place, you know they have invested themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.

Now, what would happen if an athlete were to practice incorrectly? What if they practiced for the wrong sport altogether?! Can you imagine Danica Patrick working on dunking the basketball when she's preparing for a race? Or, can you imagine Phil Mickelson working on his rifle practice when he's preparing for The Master's? It doesn't make sense, does it? But, that's what many people do every day.

They may have a goal to be wealthy, but, in their mind, they tell themselves they don't deserve wealth, that wealth is out of their reach, that somehow wealth is wrong. They are practicing the wrong thinking, the wrong beliefs, and the wrong values. A very simple mental exercise is to pay attention to the words you use.

For instance, how often do you use the words "should", "shouldn't", "must", "mustn't" "have to", "need to", "it's necessary", "I'm not allowed to"? These are called Modal Operators. These words convey the thoughts of nothing or possibility.

When you use these words you have come up with ways that are "right", "proper", and "the only way". The next time you use one of the words above, ask yourself, "If I shouldn't, what would happen if I did?" "If I have to, what will happen if I didn't?", and so on. In life, there are very few absolutes.

In fact, everything is partially true and dependent on the context in which it is framed. So, recognize the perceptions of other people. Cast aside the judgments that fix you to single points of view and obstruct progress. You will find your mind feeling toned right away. For a collection of exercises for mental gymnastics, see my book Creating a Life in Forward Motion.

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my posts, so please leave a comment.

Creating life in forward motion,

Edward Lewellen

Dr. Lewellen, at Transformative Thinking, has over 20 years of expanding the potential of corporations, religious organizations, not-for-profits, families and individuals. He is an expert in organizational alignment and motivation, organization and personal goal-setting, change management, and leadership.

He is an expert in organizational alignment and motivation, organization and personal goal-setting, change management, leadership and staff development, and sales management. Contact Dr. Lewellen at or

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