The trouble with our understanding of mental strength is that it stems from our understanding of physical strength. Physical strength can be measured by trying to do a thousand push-ups without taking a break, and seeing how many we actually manage to do before our breath runs out completely. If we try to apply the same principle to test or improve mental strength, we are sure to end up in the wrong place. A mind overloaded with stress can never function at an optimal level. The result, invariably, would be stress.
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So, what is mental strength? How does one improve it?
The mind is a powerful tool that works in your favour, as long as you are its controller. It is the controller of the mind, who can reap, or benefit from all of its powers and strength. If you find yourself mentally weak, unable to focus, and unable to control things around you, it is because of this simple truth: you are not in control of your mind. To build your mental strength, all you have to do is take back the control of your mind. Here are three things to do to reclaim your mind:
The discipline of focusing for prolonged periods on reading a book improves your powers of concentration and enriches your life. The Greek word Liber means both Books and Freedom. It's from Liber that we get Liberty and Library. A good book will free your mind from the chaos of the modern world. A book, unlike the TV, does not interrupt you with commercial breaks. And therefore, it allows you to concentrate better and for longer durations. But remember, just as we have healthy food and unhealthy food, there are unhealthy books that can ruin the mind. Be careful of what you read.
Observe the silent hour
Silence is an underrated experience, but one that greatly help us cope with the rigorous pace of modern life. After all, it helps enhance the growth of new brain cells, activates your brain's memory, and encourages self-reflection. When was the last time you met yourself?
We meet a multitude of people in a day – co-workers, friends, family members, strangers on the road, billing counter staff, and so on. Some leave an imprint on your conscious mind; some take space in your unconscious mind. Your mind is an unorganised mess of information. This mess can interfere with your thoughts for the simple reason that they're present on your mind. An unorganised mind can only produce unorganised thoughts. And unorganised thoughts will result only in unorganised actions. The silent hour is the hour of the day when you organise your thoughts. It is the hour when you meet yourself face to face, speak to yourself, analyse your goals, and organise the contents of your mind in a way that it helps you in achieving your goals. The silent hour is the hour in which you clean up your mind. Discard unnecessary information, and gather the important ones and get them organised. The silent hour is usually impossible after 7 am. If you have to start observing the silent hour, you need to develop the habit of waking up early.
The sound of silence, as Simon and Garfunkel famously sang, is a potent tool to strengthening one's mind.
Marcel Danesi, author of The Total Brain Workout: 450 Puzzles to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve Your Memory, and Keep Your Brain Fit, shares a personal experience that sheds light on how puzzles can in fact un-puzzle or unclog the mind. He recounts, “There is little doubt in my mind that puzzles are beneficial, ambiguous empirical findings aside. I saw this with my own eyes within my own family. I once suggested to an ailing relative, who suffered from a serious brain-degenerative disease, to engage in crosswords and Sudoku. He had never done puzzles in his life. His doctor immediately saw a significant slowing down of the degeneration. The relative eventually died of the disease, but I am convinced that his newly-found passion for puzzles delayed his eventual loss of consciousness.”
Solving is a fun way to improve mental strength. It is like being on a flight stimulator. It exercises your entire mental prowess minus the stress. Solving puzzle improves concentration, improves perseverance, and it enhances brain activity.
Mind is man's most precious asset. Control over one's mind is the mark of real strength. Use the above mentioned suggestions to use your mind to its full potential.