“Great changes may not happen right away, but with effort even the difficult may become easy.”
~ Bill Blackman
If you have a desire to inspire another, first be inspired yourself. Inspiration can only occur if you understand what it is to be inspired. The process of inspiring others, is frequently the messages we receive from our religious, political, and motivational leaders at the beginning of a new year. The messages are often reminders of our abilities to be renewed. In fact, if you consider the United States President’s, State of the Union, it is almost always placed at the beginning of a new year. Why? It is a way of implying that we can begin again and anew.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
The tradition of setting a New Year’s resolution dates back nearly 4,000 years ago. “The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year, which began in mid-March, that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. March was a logical time period for the New Year because spring begins and crops are planted. But the Babylonians had a greater motivation to stick to their promises than what we have today, because for the ancient people of Mesopotamia, keeping their promise would mean that their gods would bestow their grace on them throughout the course of the following twelve months, and breaking them would put them out of favor.” (Holloway, 2013, Online)
New Year’s Resolutions are frequently battered with physical intentions. Acknowledgment of one’s physical and psychological limitations is a way of expressing we have room for improvement, without declaring that “I have need for improvement.” As a society, we typically shy away from expressing such limitations or needs, because of the stigmas associated with limitations or expressed weaknesses.
WEAKNESSES AND LIMITATIONS
A weakness or limitations is good. Acknowledgement of a weakness or limitation is the recognition that you, or we, have an ability to improve or make a marked change in our lives. It is when something is clearly noticeable or evident that people recognize our desire for improvement.
The avoidance of our limitations and weaknesses stems from our fear of failure. The fear of failure is limiting, smothering our very ability to breath and function. If we live our lives fearing the possibility of failure, then we are not living life to it’s fullest. Fear is frequently the catalyst that drives people away from pursuing their ambitions, goals, desires, and life’s callings
“Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.”
~ Charles F. Stanley
It is crucial that we recognize that our weaknesses, limitations and failures are nothing more than guide maps indicating our current positions within life. We should continuously seek to be our absolute best. Even if, there is a barrier blocking our pathway, find a way around it or through it. Fundamentally, we are the only rulers and narrators of our lives. No one else can determine how we live our lives.
WHAT IS THE POINT IN DISCUSSING THE INEVITABLE?
Why discuss our fears, weaknesses and limitations? American industrialist, Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” The way with which we pursue our lives, whether through the physical, psychological, or spiritual, is dictated by the way with which we see our person. If I am unhappy with my physical being, then the probability of me living a fulfilled life is decreased. Likewise, if I am unhappy with my psychological or spiritual self, then the probability that I am living a fulfilled life is drastically decreased as well.
Living life to its fullest, implies that I am living life beyond the barriers or blockades that will certainly one day be placed on my pathway of life. How do you respond if you are presented an obstacle in life? Do you fret with how to respond to the obstacle? Do you simply resign, conceding to defeat without challenging the obstruction? Are the obstructions in your life enough to blockade your ability to live life to its fullest? Why are you avoiding living life? Do you resign to the thoughts and predictions of others? Why are you not challenging life on a daily basis? Why are you not challenging the perceptions and thoughts of others? Why do you allow the challenges and perceptions of others to persuade and predict your own life?
The inevitable is what you determine it to be. If you are certain that you will one day become a doctor, then pursue your dreams with vigor, energy and enthusiasm. Never allow other’s to predict or determine the life that you should lead. Even for a man named Nelson Mandela, before he had the privilege of serving his beloved country; he was captivated with the very idea that all humankind, had the right to be free. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (Nelson Mandela)
WHAT ARE YOU EXCUSES?
I do not write this article as a perfect specimen of humanity, rather I write this article hoping not only to inspire you, but also to inspire my own person. I too, have plenty of room for improvement as a person. I have room for improving my psychology, my physiology, and my spiritual self. In my mind, we will always have room for improvement, as long as we are captives of this physical body.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
~ Nelson Mandela
Are you plagued by the excuses of the past, or are you determined to move beyond the chains that have kept you bound? Are you trying to inspire yourself or another? If so, be inspired and an inspiration unto others by standing up and walking forward each and every time you stumble. Even if, the barrier is capable of knocking you down, do not allow the barrier to prove the victor, rather you will prove victorious by being diligent and conscientious of your desires.
ACHIEVING FITNESS OF MIND AND BODY
Achieving a fit mind and body occurs through perseverance and determination. Be steadfast in whatever you do; facing each difficulty and challenge with an impenetrable spirit. Each person will have a different perspective on fitness; it is important that you acknowledge your needs and desires to be fit. I once heard a speaker say, “a fit body is the body that makes you feel comfortable, healthy, happy, and balanced.”
“A fitness program should gradually push you as you get into better shape. Avoid programs that are one-size-fits-all. If you wonder whether a program is safe, maybe it isn’t.” (Atteberry, 2008, Online) Fitness of one’s mind is no different than their physique. As a clinician, I recognize that there are some psychological / psychiatric disorders that go beyond mental exercises; requiring specific medications and/or psychotherapeutic treatment. What I am speaking of, is the ability to focus your attention on positive perspectives of life and moving beyond negative influences on a daily basis. Stress is a leading factor to the increased chance of developing physical and psychological disorders. “In one study, researchers examined the association between ‘positive affect’ – feelings like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm – and the development of coronary heart disease over a decade. They found that for every one-point increase in positive affect on a five-point scale, the rate of heart disease dropped by 22 percent.” (Krantz, et. al., 2012, Online)
“Don’t let someone tell you to limit yourself to a specific weight or else this or that will happen. What is heavy for one person might not be for another. We are all individuals.” (Atteberry, 2008, Online) You are the moderator and commander of your life. As a clinician, I have a firm belief that patient’s instinctively know what is best for their lives, I am merely the guide to help them to achieve balance, happiness, health, and comfortability of their person.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO ACHIEVING A FIT BODY AND MIND
It is always important that you consider the source of your advice. We have all encountered well meaning individuals, but well meaning individuals can be wrong. Be certain that you seek out advice from those who are professionally trained. Anyone can dispense advice, but to be certain that you have received advice that is credible, sound, and legitimate may require a professional. Here are few strategies for becoming fit:
- Set Goals. Goal setting can focus your attention, thus offering you a roadmap of your desires. Be certain to set goals that are obtainable within the timeframe with which you desire to achieve them. Set goals that you are realistically going to achieve, but be certain to set goals that will cause you to reach for the stars.
- Avoid Unhealthy Relationships. People who are in unhealthy relationships are more apt to feel physically and psychologically miserable, fatigued and stressed. Be certain that who ever you invite into your life is complimentary of your person. Avoid relationships that are offering you negativity and hostility.
- Deny the Negative. Negative communication and thoughts can have an egregious impact on your being. Be certain to focus your thoughts on the positive perspectives and aspects of your life.
- Change Your Perceptional Mind. “You can change your perception. Changing your perceptions takes effort, desire, purpose, and intent. We all have pasts; how we perceive the past influences our present.” (Brown, 2010, p. 58)
- Know Your Triggers. Be aware of your person. Make a mental note of what stimulates your negative way of thinking. Identifying the trigger is half the battle, then devise a mental plan to diffuse your negative thoughts and perceptions.
- Physical Exercise. Physical exercise is vitally important to your mental and physical health. “Regular exercise or physical activity helps many of the body’s systems function better, keeps heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other diseases at bay, and is a key ingredient for losing weight.” (HSPH, 2014, Online)
- “Mental Health. It’s the way your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect your life. Good mental health leads to positive self-image and in turn, satisfying relationships with friends and others. Having good mental health helps you make good decisions and deal with life’s challenges at home, work, or school.” (APA, 2014, Online)
- “Rest your mind. According to APA’s 2012 Stress in America survey, stress keeps more than 40 percent of adults lying awake at night. To help ensure you get the recommended seven or eight hours of shut-eye, cut back on caffeine, remove distractions such as television or computers from your bedroom and go to bed at the same time each night. Research shows that activities like yoga and relaxation exercises not only help reduce stress, but also boost immune functioning.” (Krantz, et. al., 2012, Online)
- Consider helping others. “Studies have shown that helping others helps you, too.” (Oz & Roizen, 2013, Online)
- Strive for balance. Be certain to strive for a balanced life. It is important to enjoy the life you are living.
- “Get help. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consult with a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional who can help you learn how to manage stress effectively. He or she can help you identify situations or behaviors that contribute to your chronic stress and then develop an action plan for changing them.” (Krantz, et. al., 2012, Online)
“Making the changes that you want takes time and commitment, but you can do it. Just remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself. When you eat a brownie or skip the gym, don’t give up. Minor missteps on the road to your goals are normal and okay. Resolve to recover and get back on track.” (APA-2, 2014, Online)
Good physical and psychological health is the key to living a healthy, happy and balanced life. A healthy body should be equipped with a healthy mind. If you are healthy physically but lack a healthy mind, then you are certainly imbalanced. Achieving a balanced life is a systemic issue, we must include the mind, body, and spirit to achieve balance.
Author: Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., N.C.C.M.
American Psychological Association, APA (2014) Change your mind about mental health. Retrieved January 4, 2014 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/change.aspx
American Psychological Association, APA (2014) Making lifestyle changes that last. Retrieved January 4, 2014 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/lifestyle-changes.aspx
Atteberry, B. (2008) Achieving fitness starts with mind-set. Retrieved January 4, 2014, from http://newsok.com/article/3195356
Brown, A. D. (2010) Waiting to live, Bloomington, IN: IUniverse
Harvard School of Public Health, HSPH (2014) The benefits of physical activity. Retrieved January 4, 2014, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/staying-active-full-story/
Holloway, A. (2013) Ancient history of New Year’s Resolutions. Retrieved January 4, 2014, from http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends-news-general/ancient-history-new-year-s-resolutions-001185
Krantz, D. S., Thorn, B., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2012) How stress affects your health. Retrieved January 4, 2014 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx
Oz & Roizen (2013) How positive thinking can improve your health. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/optimism-and-health_n_4031688.html
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA