10 Tiny Ways to Develop Mental Strength Big Time

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It’s your greatest asset in adversity

Millions have died because of coronavirus. The death toll is still increasing in many parts of the world. Cities are going into lockdown.

But you know what’s worse?

People are committing suicide. They’re not able to find work. They have no control over their finances. They didn’t save for a rainy day.

Even actors who seem to have perfect Instagram lives, who seem to have it all under control, who earn millions of dollars — are killing themselves.

It’s moments like these when we understand the importance of mental strength.

Now more then ever, we need to ride the storm. Not only at an individual level, but also at the societal level. Businesses are going out of cash and the economy is down.

But what’s happened has happened. We need to learn from this.

Especially those of us who’re lucky enough to survive or thrive.

I graduated from college this year. I’m living with my parents. My needs are taken care of. I have food on the table and a roof over my head. I can still write and build my business.

But here’s what I know. What can happen to one, can happen to all.

This poses an important question — “What are you doing to prepare yourself against it?”

Here are a few teeny answers that can help you become more resilient.

Practice Poverty

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’” — Seneca

Practicing poverty is a popular stoic exercise.

By depriving yourself of all the ‘riches’ that you take for granted, you not only put yourself in the shoes of the less fortunate ones but also establish a healthy relationship with all your possessions.

The key is to detach from your possessions. The more things you’re attached to, the more they drag you down. You don’t need to carry this baggage around with you all the time. Learn to let go.

Find stuff that you don’t need and consider hiding it for a week away from your sight. As you get better at this, you can also remove a few things that you like but are not essential for you to live a good life.

Take it slow. Don’t go off and live on the streets to practice poverty. Over time you’ll find you need much less than you think you need. This is the time to donate, throw, gift, or sell the stuff that you locked away. Give it to someone who needs it. You’ll be happy beyond reason.

Quick Note: I’ve tried selling the extra items but it takes a lot of energy and time. If it’s an inexpensive item, just get rid of it. Don’t make the same mistake as me.


Yoga is the inhibition of the modifications of the mind — Patanjali

Resilience starts in the mind. If you’re mentally weak, you’ll not be able to face any kind of adverse situation. The best way to develop resiliency is to strengthen your mind.

And meditation no doubt is the greatest tool at our disposal. The benefits of meditation go far beyond what science has been able to tell us.

The key reason it helps you be resilient is it calms the storms of feelings and emotions inside you. Once you reduce the impact of your emotions on your mind, you can approach each situation in life with an even mind.

Your thoughts control you less. And thus you’re not affected by what’s going on in the world.

Give up a Bad Habit

We become what we repeatedly do― Sean Covey

We all struggle with at least one bad habit. Now is the time to let it go.

Pick just one.

If you pick two or three at once, I can almost guarantee that you’ll not get there. But if you give up one habit, it’ll get the ball rolling. Most of all it will give you the confidence you need to move ahead.

Here are the two best tips I’ve come across for habit change:

  • If you fall (and you will) get back up. But don’t be guilty about a relapse. Being guilty only reinforces that you’re not good enough. Tell yourself, “I’ve yet to succeed” instead of saying “I’ve failed again. Will I ever be able to give it up?”

  • Focus all your energy on the environment and systems. If you want to stop watching TV, hide the remote, face the couch to the other side or even unmount it and keep it in your garage. Make it as hard as possible to do the things you don’t want to do. Don’t try to fight this battle only with your willpower. You’ll deplete it quickly.

Change Your Workout Routine

If you can’t, you must — Ben Pakulski

Working out regularly is difficult enough. But once you do form the habit, your work is not done. It doesn’t take much time to get used to the same movements.

The more you get used to it, the less you grow. Changing your routine from time to time ensures you develop all muscles and hit them from different angles.

Do things that you never thought you would do. If you’re someone who likes compound movements (deadlifts, squats, and bench presses) try calisthenics.

It’s bound to make you uncomfortable. But that’s how resilience is built. Again, you don’t have to make a massive shift. If you like your workout style a lot, then just tweak it a bit to hit the weak muscles in your body. Maybe your legs aren’t as strong as your chest — so work on them.

Change Your Hairstyle

You see the pattern here. We don’t want to get too comfortable with the way things are.

Another way I’ve found is to change your hairstyle. If you’ve always had short hair, then grow them out. If you’ve not cut your hair for ages, trim them a little.

Experiment with different styles and see what works best. The reason we don’t do it, is often our hairstyle completely changes how we look and how we’re perceived. But it’s a great step to detach yourself from the opinion of others.

Seneca would often wear absurd clothes and walk on the streets. It did turn a lot of heads, but it helps you realize how little others’ opinion matters.

This is where I can safely tell you to go crazy. Do anything you want. Especially if you’re still stuck inside your home due to coronavirus, there’s no reason to not try it.

Don’t Eat

I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency — Plato

If you’ve never fasted before, you’ll be amazed to see how our lives are structured around food. You get up, work, and have breakfast like a king. Then you work some more and have lunch like a prince. You take snacks in between like I don’t know who. And then you dine like a pauper before going to sleep.

Your meals become the anchor of your day and stop you from achieving your full potential. Let me explain.

If you have lunch at 1 pm then you wouldn’t begin working on a tough project at noon. And so you waste your time with small tasks which are not as important. You don’t realize this — it’s a mindless decision.

Instead, if your day was free of meals, you can dedicate yourself to a problem for hours and complete it in half the time.

Along with intermittent fasting (15:9 protocol), I fast every Saturday. And so from the moment I wake up till I break my fast at dinner, the whole 15 hours are mine. I can use them as I like not worrying about being on time for lunch or breakfast.

It will also make you feel grateful when you eat your next meal. It kills emotional eating over time and fixes your relationship with food.

Start with intermittent fasting before jumping into a 24-hour fast. Go slow and keep yourself hydrated. Everything else will work itself out.

Dopamine Fast

“It is the month of December, and yet the city is at this very moment in a sweat. License is given to the general merrymaking. Everything resounds with mighty preparations — as if the Saturnalia differed at all from the usual business day! …this is just the season when we ought to lay down the law to the soul, and bid it be alone in refraining from pleasures just when the whole mob has let itself go in pleasures” — Seneca, Letter XVIII: On Festivals and Fasting, Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius

You must learn to give up the constant dopamine hits and sensory inputs throughout the day. It can be TV, alcohol, coffee, Netflix, social media, sugar, music, or video games.

Some people go crazy with dopamine fasts — they don’t eat, don’t read, don’t exercise, and don’t consume any content. This is counterproductive because it can make you suffer, literally, and scare you away forever.

My trick is simple — pick a combination of three activities that you abstain from for the next 30 days. For me, I picked TV/Netflix, YouTube, and Music.

Be super realistic about what you pick. Don’t pick the three hardest ones for you. I know you feel motivated right now but it won’t stick for long.

Over time, you’ll get your happiness back in the small things — the winds, the trees, and the smile on the face of your spouse. You’ll eventually be no longer dependent upon artificial stimulus to be joyful.

Shut Up

Listen to silence, it has so much to say — Rumi

It’s fasting for the soul. We keep speaking all the time for no reason. About 80% of what we speak is not useful. And most of the time, we end up saying something stupid.

Block some silent time during your day. For instance, my morning routine consists of meditation, journaling, reading, exercising, and then writing. All this takes about 4–5 hours every day and can be done with my mouth shut.

You don’t have to be a monk to do this. Remember, take small steps to get started. Don’t be afraid just because the goal is too big.

Start a Side Hustle

If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary— Jim Rohn

If you’re an employee, you can’t trust your company to take care of you. Especially not in these times. You might be fortunate enough to still have a job but many people aren’t.

The next time something bad hits the world, it might be your chance to leave. don’t wait till then. Start doing something on the side — writing, marketing, film making, or investing.

No company is dependent on one client. And you too are already an entrepreneur — you have one client — your employer.

You’re just a 4-week-notice away from being fired. Diversify and protect yourself. Now is the time.

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Written on August 22, 2020