Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mentally Strong in 13 Steps

"Good habits are important, but it's often our bad habits that prevent us from reaching our full potential." -- Amy Morin, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

Over the past year, I’ve been working on making myself a better person.

My earlier posts tell my journey to better physical health by following Weight Watchers and exercising. I’m pleased that I’ve been very successful in that area and at age 59, I’m in the best health of my life.

My physical health is easy compared to my mental health. It seems like the more I want to improve my brain, the more it goes to mush. Supposedly, people my age are destined to have a sloppy brain at times, but I’m not ready for my mind to become porridge. Going back to work after a year of retirement forced my brain to get into shape. A teacher must have a pretty sharp brain to keep up with teenagers.

I also decided to focus on a positive attitude. I’ve listened to many podcasts and read several books on this topic. One book that I liked is 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin.

I don’t remember how I found out about this book, whether it was suggested in a magazine or online. However, I’m glad I did find it. I wouldn’t say that it’s a life-changing book for me because I knew about these ways to stay focused on happiness and to stay strong minded. After all, I read Dr. Phil’s books back when he wasn’t so into shocking his audience for ratings (example: "cash me outside how bout dah").

What I like about the book:

1.  It takes a different approach to handling problems. Instead of telling me what I should do to make life better, it tells what I shouldn’t do.

2.  Morin gives examples of everyday people who have come to her for therapy sessions as well as stories of well-known people’s struggles. In Chapter 7 “They Don’t Dwell on the Past,” Morin writes about 55-year-old Gloria whose adult daughter kept moving back home after short-term, failed relationships. Gloria felt guilty because she had not provided a stable childhood for her daughter and was presently allowing her daughter to take advantage of her. Trying to right the past was keeping Gloria from being a good parent in the present.

Morin tells of Milton Hershey’s struggles with his candy career in the chapter “They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over.” After several failed attempts at establishing a candy business, Hershey changed strategies but stayed focused on success and not on his failed attempts. In the end, he owned the world’s biggest chocolate company.

3.  Amy Morin writes of many personal experiences to which I can relate. The introduction describes several heartbreaks she experienced due to deaths in her family. Tragically, Morin’s mother and husband died suddenly within three years of each other. She describes grief as “an emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting process.” Amen to that! When dealing with the impending death of her father-in-law from cancer, Morin came up with her list of 13 Things.

4.  The book doesn’t have to be read in its entirety to get its essence. Each chapter is helpful in its own way. I have re-read the chapters “They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure” and “They Don’t Expect Immediate Results” to keep me focused on my weight-loss journey.

When Amazon came out with Kindle e-reader, I got one. Some may consider it strange that an English teacher would rather have a digital book than the real thing; most bibliophiles want the feel of paper and the smell of a new book. The truth is that I was tired of storing real books. I had shelves and shelves of books I had read or were planning to read, and I was tired of dusting them. The Kindle allowed me to give away my books and get rid of some clutter. I don’t have to dust an e-book. However, some books I buy in hardback format because I want to loan to them to friends. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is such a book.