Two or more people can go through the exact same ordeal, but their experiences and reactions thereof can be completely different. Just as many athletes can have the same training routine, but only a few will become champions and go on to win multiple accolades. This is because the experience and routine may be the same, but what will make a great difference at the end of the day is the foundation of every individual’s mental fortitude.
Just as everything first happens in the spiritual realm before it comes to pass, so it must first happen in the mind before it manifests. It is the mental picture that eventually becomes the blueprint, and at the same time the number one factor that will determine the intensity of the efforts required to achieve it. We are yet to expect a six-pack and great physique or a successful individual who has achieved that so easily by coincidence or accident. Because the blueprint and having the fuel alone are not good enough for what it must take. Just as sitting in a car with a tank full of fuel and imagining it taking one to a destination will not materialise, so will it make no sense to envision any great achievement without hard work and discomfort of some sort.
To attain greatness in every area of life, one must first and foremost have a strong mental fitness to endure the discomfort of long work or training and practice. A writer cannot wait until they are good at writing without practising writing. A bodybuilder cannot attain a great physique by lying in bed while imagining lifting weights, nor can he attain it in one day of a hundred repetitions or sets. Both the bodybuilder and the writer must first have some mental levels of persistence, endurance and patience. They must first overcome the mental obstacles that may at times inhibit every action required to get the goal. This would mean doing what is required even when one does not feel like doing it, and that is also the time that one must strive to do more.
So, just as writing and the body physique keep improving with repetition, persistence and patience, so does the mental muscle keep getting stronger. Eventually, what naturally happens is that this mental fitness becomes indestructible and starts to translate into actions, even into one other area of life. It will eventually become one of the strongest tools one may have in their armour. It becomes the locus of control in every situation that one may find themselves in. This will be so good that in what may turn into situations of turmoil or panic, the one who has forged this great tool becomes the source of calm in the storm. It is the calm mind that in its stillness seeks resoluteness and a Noah’s ark in the flood.
To avoid discomfort is to avoid life itself. This is because, besides the discomfort of our pursuits, discomfort itself is inevitable. One day we may lose something we highly value, someone we dearly love, or experience misfortune. So, it would even be better to sometimes set ourselves intentionally up for constructive, uncomfortable situations. It can be sparing time to meditate on the unthinkable. It can be foregoing our cravings and instant gratification. It can be foregoing that addiction to gadgets and social media for a day, or simply going a day without food. It can be signing up for a gym, or setting up an early morning daily workout routine that one must see through. It is these things that may seem little, mundane and physical that have a great impact on our mindset. It is these things that will shape our lives and experience in ways we can never imagine.
Ultimately, the mind is really the one thing that we can and must be in control of because, at the end of the day, it is the mindset that determines the circumstances and experiences of our life, both internal and external.
* Uncommon Sense is published in New Era
with contributions from Karlos Naimhwaka. firstname.lastname@example.org