It takes attention, time and energy to get into physical shape and stay that way. The same is true for mental fitness. Just as you can learn to exercise and watch your diet, you can learn to use your mind in ways that promote fitness.
How do you know if you’re in good mental shape? Well, your self-esteem is high and you trust your own judgment. Your relationships are happy and healthy, and you have a network of family and friends whose company you enjoy and who will be there for you when times get tough.
You feel competent, confident and useful. You set goals for the short-term and long-term future, work to achieve them and take setbacks in stride. You’re not afraid to try new things, and you agree with Eleanor Roosevelt, who said that no one can make a fool of you without your consent. You don’t get bogged down in guilt or depression, and you’re willing to own up and take accountability for your feelings and your actions. You deal gently with others, who may not be as mentally fit as you are, and you believe that the most important teaching you can do is by example. Finally, you don’t take yourself so seriously that you can’t enjoy a good laugh at your own expense.
Does feeling all of these things sound like a tall order? Perhaps, but remember, you can’t run 26 miles on your first day of marathon training, and the journey of 10,000 miles starts (and ends) with a single step.
The famous American architect, engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist Buckminster Fuller once said, “The minute you choose to do what you really want to do it’s a different kind of life.” And it’s not about what you’re getting PAID to do! If you want to live abundantly, decide what you really want and figure out a way to do it. Be clear and live with intent.
Let me explain my point with this great story… You may have heard of Fred Lebow if not, let me introduce you… Fred complained to his doctor that he lacked energy. Sound familiar? His doctor advised him to take up running in order to increase his stamina. I know what you’re thinking… Myers is going to get us out running. No, I’m not… back to the story. Fred fell in love with it! He was 39 years old when he entered his first race — and did horribly. He beat only one other contestant… a 72-year-old man. But he loved it!
Fred decided what he really wanted to do — and he did it in his spare time. He joined the New York Road Runners Club and organized New York City’s first marathon race. But what Fred truly wanted to do, even more than run, was to bring people together. And that is what he did. He believed that anybody should be able to run — people of all ages, any background, professional or amateur, and of any country.
Today, more than 28,000 people of all backgrounds and nationalities compete in the NYC Marathon. Not everyone in New York was excited about people running through their neighborhoods. Fred was approached by a youth gang that warned him that nobody had better run through their turf. “That’s great.” Fred enthused. “I need someone to protect the runners in your area, and you look like just the fellows to do it.” He gave them each a hat, shirt and jacket and that year, when the marathon went through their neighborhood, these young men proudly guarded the runners along their way. Wow! Talk about creativity.
Fred decided what was truly important to him and he found a way to do it. He lived with intent. That single decision made his life remarkably different.
Unfortunately in 1990, Fred found he had a brain tumor. In 1992, he ran his final race. He crossed the finish line holding the hand of his friend and Norwegian Olympic medalist, Grete Waitz. A bronze statue was created of Fred in his running clothes, checking his watch. It is now placed at the finish line of every race. Fred died in 1994. But as one sports writer said, “Fate handed him a short race. With his gall, with his love of life, Fred Lebow turned it into a marathon.” Fred would say that it’s not about how long you live, but how you run the race of life. Do you run it with intent?
Can you see the importance of both mental and physical fitness? You and I move toward and become that which we think about… positively or negatively… Why not take that first step toward positive and uplifting mental fitness today? Then, just keep on walking!
Remember, it’s in your hands.