Updated: Apr 20
Understand and gain command of your mind's three core mental muscles for greater peace, happiness and meaningful success.
Source: Wix Media
Neuroscientists talk about the science of attention, psychologists talk about mind management. Both use the term mind training. I'm talking about Mental Fitness, a term used by Shirzad Chamine, author of the book and CEO of the training firm Positive Intelligence. This is not the cult of happiness, toxic positivity or pollyanna ways, it's about realistic optimism; different, more and better possibilities and realizing them through training in and building your three core muscles of mental fitness. Your mind can be your best friend and your worst enemy, this is nurturing the friend and taming the enemy.
My Mental Fitness story
Ask people who worked with me, they'll use words like gets things done, figures it out, always learning, risk mitigator, achiever, supports people, thorough, passionate, creative, efficient, organized, multitasker.
Always a generalist, with interests in the arts and the sciences, the abstract and the technical, I tended to be all over the map with my interests and activities. I both feared and was anxious AND sought challenges and growth. I called myself a Jill of all trades, mistress of none. I became a Jill of all trades, mistress of too many to count.
I've got the kudos and career accomplishments, risen in the ranks, built global teams, enabled customers to succeed, helped raise up people to realize their potential.
It never felt like enough, it seemed like I had to keep doing more. Pushing my comfort zone more and more to conquer anxiety, acquiring more knowledge and accomplishments to prove myself.
Inevitably, I suffered unhealthy stress, burnouts, depression, work life imbalance, weight loss, weight gain, imposter syndrome, busyness, not being as present as I'd like for what really matters, and so on.
I left the corporate world, exhausted, and spent several months recharging before exploring what could be different. Yes, I had many ups and downs, much experience and excitement, and a tremendous amount to be grateful for. Now, how did I want to be each day and moving forward?
I became more intentional, clarified and aimed to live and work with purpose and balance, learning to be more present, unlearning my drive to hyper achieve, please others despite cost, pursue perfection. Therapy, being coached, my studies all help. My ingrained beliefs, thoughts, behaviour was evolving slowly. Still, I could only get so far, before being unconsciously pulled back to old ways and not noticing enough to stop myself in the moment.
Even though I have a wonderful passion for my work and personal life, I was still the go-go and do-do person often at the mercy of my inner critics and narratives. They say we learn for the first half of our life, then unlearn for the second half. It has been really hard to unlearn.
I reached another burnout. I found myself in my own high-stress circumstances and became so tired, emotional and lethargic I did the minimum of almost everything for several months.
I'd heard about Positive Intelligence and Mental Fitness among my coaching community and read a little about it over the years. As I recovered, my focus was exploring what could help. As I learned more about Mental Fitness it resonated entirely with what I'd struggled with—what many of us struggle with all our life. I seized the next opportunity to take the foundational Positive Intelligence training and then the advanced coaching program.
I feel like I've turned a corner and I keep turning more corners. I've been training others and using Positive Intelligence for Mental Fitness in my own life for some time. For me, it fits into my life with doable time commitment and is seriously FUN to use. It is a journey for the rest of my life—like physical activity, my Mental Fitness work. It is self-reinforcing as I feel and benefit from these impacts.
Much less push to go, go, go and do, and achieve and prove myself.
Way more pull towards enjoyment, curiosity, creativity, purpose and meaning.
Much lower stress, with greater equanimity, self-acceptance, empathy
Heightened capacity for focus, prioritization, performance and decision-making
What I'm learning rubs off on others and makes for great relationships
I get more of what's important done and feel energized at the end of most days. Every client who's incorporated Mental Fitness with me as their coach has turned their corners, too. We all wish we'd had this training in high school or university.
Mental Fitness can seriously benefit all humans and I encourage others to explore.
So, what is Mental Fitness & Positive Intelligence?
Positive Intelligence® is a New York Times best-selling book by world-class coach and neuroscience researcher Shirzad Chamine. It's also an international company, training programs, a clever App and trained and experienced coaches like me, fuelling our passion to help bring greater Mental Fitness to humans around the world.
Mental fitness is your capacity to respond to life's challenges with positive rather than negative mindset. Mental Fitness builds command of your own mind through developing your three core mental muscles, allowing you to access:
Peace and wellbeing
One definition of happiness is the percentage of time you are in positive feelings and mindset. We call this ratio of positive to negative the Positive Intelligence Quotient or PQ.
Negative emotions come from your survival brain and stress response, which developed 180 million years ago. These emotions are useful as an alert to where you may need to pay attention, based in real, exaggerated or perceived worries, frustrations and fears.
Your survivor brain has you stay in heightened negative feelings and thoughts far, far beyond the alert message, and regardless of whether the situation is real or imagined.
This keeps you in a fight, flight or freeze stress response, producing far more adrenalin and cortisol than you need, affecting breathing, blood pressure and other health factors. This gives you tunnel vision focus, narrowing your thinking, usually resulting in fear and trigger-based reactions. Over time, this produces habits, like patterns of thoughts and behaviours, and impacts your performance, relationships, quality of life and health.
Our minds can be our best friend or our worst enemy.
~ PositiveIntelligence.com ~
Your inner critics—or Saboteurs—can become your fiercest enemy. Saboteurs are directed by fear: old fears, current worries, and apprehensions for the future of failure or being hurt in some way. Using this part of your brain, you will more often find yourself ruminating on the past, distracted in the present, and worrying about the future.
Did you know there's a wiser, more powerful and underused part of your brain? We call this your Sage mind. It's where our aha's and insight come from and it's not something taught or developed in school or university (yet). So, it can have a much quieter voice overshadowed by your loud Saboteurs and your analytical mind. Your Sage mind generates positive emotions, accesses calm, openness, curiosity, passion and creative wisdom and can be your far fiercer friend.
With training and practice, you can build your mental fitness muscles to weaken the enemy (aka Saboteurs) and strengthen your friend (your Sage mind). Neuroscience refers to this as mind management, in Mental Fitness we call it self-command of your own mind.
Positive Intelligence® (PQ) Program provides mental fitness training and practice:
Academically validated and scientifically designed.
Addresses the root what is holding you back.
Designed to significantly reduce stress!
Provides a structured and fun way to develop new neural patterns and habits.
Frees you from self-limiting behaviour and allows your best thinking and creating.
Designed to build lasting mental fitness habits that keep growing with practice.
Increases your success in small coach-led accountability groups.