Mental fitness is our capacity to consistently respond to everyday life challenges with resilience and a proactive attitude. It is a state of well-being with a positive sense of how we think, behave, and feel in our day-to-day life.
Just as physical fitness enables us to function at a higher state of health, mental fitness empowers us with an increased ability to embrace life to the fullest. No matter what stressors we encounter daily, we remain calm and fully aware of the stimulus. Thus, mental fitness allows us to pause, stay calm, and respond proactively rather than reacting to the current situation.
As we build mental fitness, our interaction with the world becomes a more positive experience. By being less reactive in all the interactions we have every day, we are choosing to respond in a more rational and less emotive way. This improves our relationships and significantly reduces stress and negative emotions over time.
So how do mental fitness and our future prospects are linked together? At a given time, most of our subconscious minds are filled with negative thoughts like anger, frustration, despise, depression, etc. The brain generates a neural pathway with every thought in our subconscious minds. The more we feed negative thoughts and behaviours to our subconscious minds, these neural pathways become reinforced over time.
As these negative neural pathways become stronger, our thoughts and attitude towards life become overall negative. We tend to find faults with others and the circumstances and become reactive to our surroundings.
And after some time, these neural pathways are so strong and connected that negative thinking becomes automatic in our brains, i.e., negative thoughts become the autopilot mode of our brains. We become disoriented and disconnected from reality and always search for reasons for failure. Eventually, these negative thoughts and emotions lead us to destruction and chaos in our relationships, work, and all areas of life.
In contrast, mental fitness is about breaking patterns in our subconscious minds so that we can channel positive thoughts and emotions more regularly and efficiently than negative ones. We actively and consciously practice positive thoughts to reverse harmful neural pathways that are not beneficial to us. Positive neural pathways are strengthened with increased positive thinking, leading to the most realistic and objective thoughts. The more we feed positive thoughts to our subconscious minds, the more neural pathways are generated in our brains. These similar neural pathways are clustered to generate the right skills and attitudes to face any challenges with confidence and resilience.
In retrospect, we become more confident, resilient, and energised from within by being mentally fit. At times, we may feel worried or sad, but mental fitness will surely steer us away from spiralling into depression and anxiety as we have more control over our automatic thoughts. As we are not distracted, we are mindful of our surroundings and being 'present.' As mentioned before, we consciously choose how to respond in each circumstance. These result in better relationships and the ability to relate to others. Also, we are actively reframing our thoughts, which leads to compassion, an optimistic mindset, and a more positive attitude toward life. We are consistently motivated to build new positive habits in all areas of life. Thus, achieving success and prosperity is a natural outcome.
So, how can we attain the mental fitness that would pave the path to success? There are several training exercises to achieve mental fitness. However, the best tool is meditation. It is scientifically proven that regular meditation improves cognitive skills and creates heightened awareness. To get the optimum benefit, we should practice meditation twice a day. The more regularly we practice, the faster we move towards achieving mental fitness and, in turn, preparing ourselves for success.
The writer is an Associate Professor and Head of Plastic Surgery Department at Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital