Oftentimes, what we experience as mental fatigue or emotional distress is simply a signal from our body that we are not getting enough of something we physically need: nutrients, exercise, or rest.
If you want to get really, really smart and intelligent? Get physical first.
This applies double for people who need to process a lot of information and remember a lot, like college students, lawyers, doctors, architects, I would say people in any field these days. Your mind is absorbing the load of information much easier and you are able to remember much more stuff at the same time. What a powerful thing! I am not just coming up with these stuff. It’s a scientific fact!
The question I am asking you right now is. Are you using this powerful tool? Do you keep your body in perfect physical shape? If not. Why not? You can leverage your mental skills hugely by developing physical skills. Connect this with a great sugar free, natural diet and your mind becomes like a perfectly running computer.
Occasionally I surprise myself, when I remember the stuff like phone number, song name, name of a person or street address just like that. It just pops up in my mind when I need it. And I ask myself : where did this come from? But now I know where. Consistent, intensive exercise and perfect diet. That’s where it comes from.
Some of recent studies show, that Alzheimer’s disease and other mental diseases come from unhealthy life style like: diet full of processed foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates and little physical activity. And I strongly believe, that, this is true. So if you want to keep your mind healthy, fresh and you want it to perform better, get physical. Get in the best possible physical shape you can by exercising regularly and eating perfect diet.
How about the rest? I thing we are generally resting too much physically. And, we are overloaded mentally. So if you become physically active, you can consider that as mental rest.
I still remember loosing it on tennis court when I was loosing a match. I would scream, yell, throw my racket and I broke fair share of them. The same on friendly soccer games, I would yell on my teammates for not coming back to a defense and so on. I would shout for bad pass. And than, when I lost I was disappointed.
I still remember getting into a conflict with some local Monterey surfers, because of me stealing waves and cross riding and general cockiness attitude of mine while surfing Asilomar. I wanted to show the locals, that I am there and that I am not afraid. And I wasn’t even close being as good as they are. I was simply in their way and I had no business of being there. Not a pretty picture. And quite honestly, I am embarrassed and ashamed of this.
This was 8 years ago. I still play tennis, surf and play occasional soccer game. But I am completely different guy out there. I play fair, don’t scream at anybody and I am very respectful to all the better surfers too. What changed? Part of it might be the fact, that I am getting older. But being in a much better physical and mental shape, yes less sugar helps to keep your nerves on a leash, than I was ever before, different thing is at play here.
You are out there to have a good workout
I do all this sports with a single thought in my mind: To have a good workout. Before, I wanted to win, I wanted to ride the best wave. Not anymore. I don’t care much about that anymore. But the interesting thing is, that I am a way better tennis player, surfer and soccer player than anytime before.
So if you want to improve your game, get better, just relax and tell yourself, that you are doing it for a good workout. And if that is true, than your game will certainly improve. Don’t let your aggressive, winning ego stay in your way. Do it for the work out. This is of course advice mainly for recreational players. Competitive athlete will of course use the different mental model we will talk about some other time.
It is incredible how many people in the world, especially America and Europe suffer from anxieties, depressions and general mental weakness.
Could this actually be because in these parts of the world, people live very comfortable, safe, having everything lifestyles? Yes, it is exactly why.
Hard physical work and certain amount of struggle in our life’s were mend to be for us as a best therapy session. It has something incredibly therapeutic and relaxing in itself.
It was easy to feel good and be happy and not being depressed 100 years ago, when you had to work physically hard all day and then come home, eat something for dinner and sit for a little while at the fireplace with your family telling stories to each other.
It’s very hard to feel good and not being depressed after sitting all day in the office and than come home and sit in front of TV for 2 hours before going to bed. Can you see it? There is not a struggling part to it, there is no physical hardship.
But you can create this kind of healing physical hardship yourself. And if you want to maintain your sanity, and certain amount of mental toughness, you have to do it. Join the gym or set up workout routine where you push your body to it’s physical limits. It will not only make you feel good and generally healthy, it will give you the mental strength we all need in this life. To feel good, you need to go through some physical suffering.
Do you have a trouble to focus? Do you start things and never finish? Are you one on the majority people who drift from one task to another without a self discipline to actually finish stuff. If you are, don’t worry, you are definitely not alone. But I have a cure for you.
Yes, yes, yes, Milan has cure for everything. Well of course, you little patient of mine. I just read study about habits. This study found that, if you can make yourself do your bad everyday after you wake up, your other positive habits improve. The study goes further to regular physical exercise and general fitness level.
What it finds doesn’t surprise me at all: people who exercise regularly are able to complete the task at hand easily. They get harder distracted. And when going gets tough, they persist longer. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. People who are physically fit are mentally fit as well. Plus other good habits emerge naturally. Well, sorry to brag about it all the time, but it seems like physical fitness has answer for everything. What you are left with is just simply get insanely fit and other great habits will follow.
Richard Branson, the English entrepreneur was asked what is the single best think to do to increase productivity. His answer was very short: “Work out.”
The inside is different than outside quip is just not true at all. If everything is working inside your body how it’s supposed to, if you are insanely fit and healthy, than the outside is going to be the same. Productivity included. You will be insanely productive.
The opposite is true too. If your inside is broken, if you don’t feel good, your health is not that great, than the outside is going to be the same. Productivity included. You will not have the energy, enthusiasm and drive to make things happen.
I met Sir Richard Branson on the airport few years back. He is insanely fit. His productivity is insanely high. His inside reflects the outside.
Stop looking any further. This is it. Wanna improve your productivity? Work out!
Here is the universal truth of human nature: people are generally lazy. Me included of course.
When I go surfing and I have to paddle out very far away just to reach the break and there are strong currents out there, I need to preserve some energy to get back to the shore. Not following this rule got me already in trouble few times, luckily with a happy ending. We are all constantly learning. So we don’t do the stupid mistakes like that again. And conservation of energy was necessary in this case.
Researchers have studied marathoners and ultra marathoners (people who regularly run very long distances) to learn about how the body responds to pain. Here is what they have found: when you are so tired, that it feels like you are about to die at any second, physiologically you are not even close to actually dying. The signals, your brain is sending to your body is to keep some energy in reserves, just in case you might need it later.
There are some genuine reasons to conserve energy, like my example with surfing and having enough of it to get back. Other times do, conservation of energy is stoping you to get better, to progress.
Conservation of energy explains why some people stay in dead end jobs for decades, even thought they know, the position isn’t great. If the work is ok, the bills get paid, and the job never becomes stressful or frustrating enough to violate expectations, people generally won’t go out of their way to get a promotion, find another job, or start a new business.
If you think you make enough money, you probably won’t do much to earn more. The same way, if you think you are fit enough, strong enough, and in good enough shape, you won’t push yourself to get better. Yes it’s great to have all the good stuff. But as soon as you reach the good enough level for yourself, you become to stagnate. You will start to conserve energy and with that stop growing. It’s quite natural thing to do. We are wired to conserve energy to survive.
It’s pretty common thing to see a successful athlete maintaining his performance level for 10 years after reaching it in 3 years. Or a successful businessman getting complacent, fat and lazy after amazing his fortune.
The message here is this: know when to conserve energy. It is important. However, if you conserve it and you don’t really have a good reason for it, you stopped getting better. Your growth got stumped. Not a very good place to be, however successful or fit you are.
Should you conserve some energy? The answer to the question is no, unless you are in life threatening situation like for example, getting out of woods without having any food left. It wouldn’t be smart to do 10 – 1 mile laps around the lake before starting looking for a way out. But you will most likely never face situations like this unless climbing K2 is on your to do list. And all you are doing right now, when conserving energy, and we all do conserve energy is drifting in your comfortable zone.
The best way and safest to reaching our true potential is actually reaching our true energy limits in a safe environment. If you can get to that point, congratulations. It’s very, very, very hard thing to do.