These are the flowers of celebration for yesterday’s marathon of production in the new office I’m feng shui & designing in Brooklyn. It’s not a small office, it is huge. It’s not low profile, it’s high. Suffice it to say, as a stubbornly one-woman show (I’m getting beyond this. I can’t wait to hire an assistant!), the learning curve was steep. It still is. Every day I realize there are new things to think about. Contractors, logistics, vendors, collaborations… But, it’s exciting.
The skill I never realized that I had has become apparent in this process: mental endurance. I think I developed it early because I was determined as a small child to work my way out of the city where I was born, the city where I felt like an alien, the city I now love to visit in New Jersey where I’m sitting right now, this morning, typing this.
Are you mentally tough? These ideas, when practiced, can help you create new habits that make the seemingly impossible very possible!
After four hours of running around in day, just to get started, there was design victory. It’s the small victories that I have learned to celebrate. After all, if you don’t acknowledge the small success and only focus on the finish line, there’s far more change of going under when you feel tired out along the way.
Here are some of the reecent scientific studies of the mentally tough. While I am certainly not mentally-Olympic (yet!), this really resonates with my life when I’ve been at my own best. These studies are inspiring me to really exercise my mental muscle. You may be surprised at what you can do without a doubting-struggling-fearing mind getting in the way of what you want!
The Qualities Of A Super-Strong Mind & Spirit
Scientific American details the science of mental touggness and what qualities stand out as vital to overcome obstacles and get things done.
“In a very recent study, Félix Guillén and Sylvain Laborde compared levels of mental toughness between athletes and non-athletes. Based on the review by Gucciardi and colleagues, they distilled mental toughness down into four main dimensions:
- Hope: The unshakeable self-belief in one’s ability to achieve competition goals (“I can think of many ways to get out of a jam”).
- Optimism: A general expectancy that good things will happen (“In uncertain times, i usually expect the best”).
- Perseverance: Consistency in achieving one’s goals and not giving up easily when facing adversity of difficulties (“I am often so determined that I continue working long after other people have given up”).
- Resilience: The ability to adapt to challenges in the environment (“I do not dwell on things that I can’t do anything about”).
All four dimensions were significantly related to each other, forming a general factor of mental toughness. Athletes scored much higher than non-athletes on this general mental toughness factor, with a large effect size. What’s more, there was no difference between the type of sport (individual vs. team sports). This is consistent with prior research suggesting that mental toughness is more a function of environment than domains.” (this article is amazing, right HERE)
Become Comfortable With A Little Uncomfortable
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t born with a desire to be uncomfortable. I seeked comfort at every turn. I hated gym class, I didn’t like to play sports… I didn’t really love to push myself in ways that weren’t intuitive. But, when I needed to become physically stronger to overcome a health issue, I learned to endure the uncomfortable part of training my body.
Are you OK with being uncomfortable in the service of completing what you want to complete?
In a Lifehacker discussion on Mental Toughness, the idea of being uncomfortable is highlighted:
“No one knows you more than you, but when you run from difficult circumstances or uncomfortable situations, you don’t even give yourself the chance to prove that you can overcome. It’s all about environment. If you want to get better at dealing with heat, then you go to the desert. If you want to get better at dealing with cold, then you go up to the mountains. If you want to get better at dealing with stressful situations, then you go to the stressful situations.” (article HERE)
Stop Dwelling On Worst Case Scenarios
When I was a kid I can tell you that many many many people- all who never went to college- would “ask” (i.e.: tell) me “What happens if you get rejected from the college you want to go to?”
I would literally fire back, ” I won’t be rejected by anyone.” And then, I would distance myself from them. By my senior year I was largely alone when I was in my hometown, by choice. Perhaps not the healthiest choice, but it worked. I didn’t get rejected by any college. I applied to two. I picked the one I wanted.
Worst-case-scenario thinking will help you to spiral to helplessness and panic. I feel that’s the opposite of what anyone needs. Some people say that worst case scanarios are “realistic” and “motivating” but I personally can’t find any value in working my way through life fighting against fear and battling the demons of lurking catastrophe.
PBS detailed the mental toughness training that drill sargeants instill in the military. One of their pillars of success in facing difficult challenges is to avoid catastrophic thinking.
“Another pillar of psychological fortitude is the ability to resist “catastrophic thinking”—the tendency to assume the worst. Seligman’s program offers examples drawn from army life: a sergeant stationed abroad doesn’t hear from his wife back home and concludes that she’s left him; a sergeant receives a negative performance evaluation from his commending officer and immediately thinks, “I won’t be recommended for promotion, and I don’t have what it takes to stay in the army.” Participants learn to fight back against such negative thoughts, challenging their accuracy and searching for a more positive spin—while also making sure to reflect and act on genuine concerns and problems.” (article is HERE)
Is there any value in dwelling on bad outcomes, after all?
Of course, there are some really amazing stories of endurance and toughness that can inspired you. I happen to love this talk by Rich Roll at Revitalize in 2014 about why lifehacks don’t work.
It is awesome.
I guess in all of this, the first place to start (likely this could hae been at the top) is to have a finish line in mind that is far out from where you are, a goal that will take some doing to get done.
So, stretch your vision and start putting really exciting goals on paper. Let them pull you toward them because they are soooooo exciting. This is where the whole thing starts. After all, you aren’t going to want to risk and endure for something less than that! xoxo Dana
And, if you want to dive in to your own personalized feng shui in a modern, practical way, Say hello to Feng Shui 101. Its the guide I made for you to create your own personalized feng shui at home, in the office, wherever you may be… in 8 weeks. It’s not filled with strict rules or what you “must” do. Its filled with information, questions, exercises and even videos and classes to help you confidently create amazing spaces with killer feng shui and live with more flow. Learn more about the 8-week feng shui adventure & grab your copy to get started right HERE… And, as always, please let me know what happens!