EFC Mental Fitness Part 1
I truly believe that great health is the result of a balanced mind, body and spirit. But quiet often we divide ourselves into only exercise, only mental, or only spiritual. Exercise-minded people tend to find a lot of time for physical activity but perhaps can’t find time to stop and read, think, or meditate. The mind people read self improvement books, listen to empowering CD’s, or go to seminars and maybe want to develop a healthy body via mental powers. The Spiritual people might do Yoga at dawn, meditate, and then hit the raw diet on the way to hug a tree and become one with the universe. Neither one of them is right or wrong. I feel that everything in moderation will give you the ultimate human experience. At EFC we eat well and exercise in pursuit of a healthy human experience. But forgetting about our mind and our spiritual component might bring into our lives some unpleasant challenges. So through a series of articles I’ll try to bring some light into your mental fitness component. The spiritual component will be beyond the scope of these writings. However we must keep in mind that only through a balanced mind we are able to open our hearts to reach our spiritual soul. So let’s get started ….3-2-1
When we talk about mental fitness we must consider how our mind works. Perception, the way we see life, is the filter of our reality. It can not only affect our mental health but can influence our physiology and with it our physical health. Williams James (1842- 1910), considered the father of modern Psychology, said, “The greatest discovery of our generation is that humans can alter their life by altering the perception and attitudes of their mind.” In other word is not what happens to you but how you perceive it, and how you see it. But why do we perceive or see things the way we do? How or why do we get imbalanced perceptions?
During my search to answer life’s complicated questions I came across a teacher, philosopher and researcher from whom I’ve been learning for the past 8 years. Dr. John Demartini, an expert in the area of human behavior, has described how all humans have a hierarchy of values that guide their lives. That is, we have things that are first most important, second most important, third most important and so on. And even though we might know that we all have different priorities in life we might not be aware that our lives and ultimately our destiny is actually guided by that hierarchy of values. Therefore our perception of life is greatly filtered by such a hierarchy. If something supports our values we are open to it. If something challenges our values we close or withdraw from it. This becomes important in developing healthy relationships with ourselves and others. If somebody supports our values we consider that person good, we are open to conversation, we think they are friendly or even intelligent. If somebody challenges our values we consider that person bad, or not intelligent, not friendly and we will actually avoid conversation. Things that support our values inspire us, we pay attention to, we act with intention and develop long term memory. For example, you might find the people at the box friendly but if you hate your job or you are challenged at your work place or a class in school you might think that people are mean. Out of the box you might find it easy and talk for an hour about CrossFit and you can discuss work outs, numbers, diet etc but you might find challenging to talk about Chemistry and the elements on the periodic table.
When something challenges our values we need motivation, we procrastinate, we say “I don’t know” or “I can’t” or “I’m not like that”. A kid might need motivation to clean the room but not to play video games. Same with adults, males might not need motivation to watch the football game on Sunday but they might need a lot of motivation to go to three different malls shopping for shoes.
We will spend our time, energy and money in those things that support our values. Spending money on vacations, Nano shoes or nutritional supplements might feel easier than spending money on the campaign for National Public Radio or having to buy a new motor for the garage door. You might find it easy to go and work out but challenging to clean up a storage room. You don’t mind to spend one hour working out but you might mind wait one hour for the car to be ready at the mechanic or at the airport waiting for your return flight.
The same way that we have individual values there are collective values. Values vary from culture to culture (middle east and western countries for example), from regional culture to regional culture (west US -east US) and even from group to group (Roman catholic – Southern Baptist) Values are beliefs of a person or social group in which they have emotional investment either for or against something.
We assign labels in life according to our hierarchy of values. Good or bad, nice or mean, kind or cruel, Godly or un-Godly, for example. What this means is that we maintain an imbalanced perception of life that is guided by our hierarchy of values. So when we perceive something as bad it is simply challenging our values and we are seeing only 50%. Take for example two independent individuals with strong religious beliefs. The first individual after a long day of work at his convenience store place his $1,000 day earnings in a brown bag but loses them on the way to the bank. This individual, because of his religious beliefs, might blame the devil for his demise and might call the situation “bad”. The second individual, who maybe can’t find a job or has a sick child and many medical expenses, finds the bag but this time, because of his religious beliefs, he thanks God for his good luck and calls the situation “good”. Same event just filtered through their values and perception. The event challenges the first individual’s values but supports the second’s situation. Considering something bad means that we are not seeing at that particular time how that person or that situations is perceived by others. The same principle applies when we consider something as “good”. The man that stays working late at the office is considered “good” by his boss and thinks his employee is a dedicated man but his wife might see that the husband is not a dedicated man because he comes home late and does not spend time with his family. The boss’s values are being supported but the wife’s values are being challenged. Again, every time we assign labels we are not seeing whole; we are only seeing 50% and as you can imagine this can be the source of many conflicts.
Now you can see how our reality is distorted by our values and how we have a biased perception of life. Again this imbalanced perception can clutter your mind, create stress and compromise your health. How it happens we will see in future writings. On our next article of mental fitness we will touch on how we can know our true hierarchy of values and the importance of living our highest values in order to have a fulfilled life.
See you at our awesome box.