Everybody wants to live a good life, but not everyone works to achieve it. Some give up easily; some show determination. There is a clear personality difference between those who give up and those who persevere. But we are all born with basically the same potential. So what then is the secret to mental toughness?
Mental toughness is the ability to overcome difficulties. If you want to succeed in life and reach your goals, you must develop this skill. You have to be mentally tough when you are striving for your goals; fighting difficulties; and overcoming doubts, fears, and worries. Determination and mental toughness can be strengthened just like muscles. If you are having a hard time reaching your goals and you give up everything easily, check out The 40% Rule.
The 40% Rule which is explained in Jesse Itzler’s book Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, is a rule used by Navy SEALs to fight harsh conditions while going through one of the toughest training programs in the world. We can also use “The 40% Rule” as a way of “dealing with the difficulties and moving on” and apply it to the challenges of daily life. As Itzler explains in his book, “He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it. And that was his way of forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside-down.”
It is scientifically proven that our limits are a lot farther than we think. The placebo effect (When we really believe in something, it happens) has been proven many times in research. Neuroscientists tell us that mental toughness is connected to three things:
- Being optimistic and cheerful: A tough mind is able to cross boundaries and find creative solutions to problems. For this, the mind needs to be safe and flexible, and a flexible mind can only be achieved with an optimistic point of view. Optimism basically means looking at events from a cheerful perspective. You can use the power of smiling to do so. You don’t even have to be happy to smile. According to Charles Darwin’s “Facial Feedback” hypothesis, facial expressions affect the mood just as the mood affects facial expressions. This means that smiling without being happy can actually make you happy. As Navy SEAL Platoon Commander James Waters says, “You have to have fun and laugh to cope with difficulties, laugh at yourself and what you do.”
- Training the brain: The brain is also a muscle. Just as you need to exercise to improve your muscles, so also you should exercise continuously to train your brain. Working a little bit each day will make this muscle better. Avoid doing the same things over and over again; over time it becomes boring and causes a lack of motivation. Instead, energize your mind with many different stimuli to keep it active and motivated.
- Point of View: Do you make your problems and obligations seem bigger than they are? The easiest way to deal with difficulties is to change your point of view about the things you see as being difficult. Instead of seeing challenges as drudgery, the trick is to perceive them as a game. Navy SEAL James Waters says, “Many people are unaware that Navy SEAL Training is evaluating the ability to cope and maintain with difficult conditions. This is a game. You need to enjoy it and keep it in your big picture.”
The key to living a happy and good life is to be mentally tough. The purpose of the difficulties in your life is to improve you and make you a better version of yourself. Always staying in your comfort zone will ensure that you never move forward. Life is not stable; it is unpredictable and constantly changing. The way to adapt to those changes is mental flexibility and determination. Confidence brings determination. Determination is like a muscle that improves when used. You have more than you think. Challenge yourself. Pushing your limits will help you achieve more. The key to the great life that you deserve is in your hands; opening the door is your choice.
Wishing you love and good health.