Although mental toughness as developed by Dr Jim Loehr in the 1990’s, and the MTQ48 framework by Professor Peter Clough in 2002 is a relatively recent concept, many of the key aspects of mental toughness originated thousands of years ago in ancient history. As mental toughness practitioners we use techniques such as better breathing and body language, positive thinking and visualisation in our coaching. These mental toughness tips were all practiced thousands of years ago in ancient history.
Here are 4 mental toughness tips:
1. Improve your breathing
Focused breathing for better health and mental strength has been present for centuries in Martial Arts, Buddhism, Zen Meditation and practiced by the Native Americans and the Chinese where medical pioneer Hua Tuo’s breath stretch technique known as “Tiger Pawing” helped expand the lungs and improve respiration.
Meanwhile in India yoga practitioners have used ‘pranayama’, which literally means control of the life force, as a tool for affecting both the mind and body for thousands of years.
To improve your breathing, breathe slowly, breathe deeply and with purpose. Control your breath and be relaxed and calm.
2. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones
Positive thinking is evident everywhere in the writings of every era, from the Taoist philosophy of Lao Tzu to the Stoic meditations of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and Greek philosopher Epictetus who in the first century AD said:
“The thing that upsets people is not so much what happens, but what they think about what happens”.
Perhaps the greatest proponent of positive thought was warrior Sun Tzu who said:
“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”
He expected to win, no matter how hopeless the situation seemed.
To turn negative thoughts into positive ones start by thinking like someone who is mentally strong. Think positively and confidently and believe in yourself. Use your inner voice to reaffirm your strengths and your will to win against all the odds. Enjoy the challenge of creating opportunities from setbacks and failures.
3. Visualise the day ahead and your ideal outcome
The ancients understood the value of visualisation to give you a clear idea of what you want and what you need to make it a reality. They used meditation, focused thought and concentration to visualise an ideal outcome. Socrates, the classical Athenian philosopher, crystalised the thinking of the day on visualisation when he wrote:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
To visualise the day ahead and your ideal outcome, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and imagine in as much detail as you can, what you would be looking at if the dream you have were already realised. Visualise how this outcome was achieved, what was said and what was done. Then go and do it.
4. Use your body language to your advantage
In ancient Greek and Roman times there were ample examples in culture and literature of the importance of eye contact, facial expression, better posture and the significance of gestures and other non verbal communication. They focused on how they trained their bodies by maintaining poised, confident body language.
This body language advantage is improving one’s own self-belief and so appearing more confident to others than you actually are. Professor Amy Cuddy’s ‘power posing’ techniques have shown that stretching and growing into your body frame doesn’t just change how others perceive you but also immediately changes your body chemistry to trigger a boost to blood testosterone levels.
Use your body language to your advantage by using the following simple techniques:
- Be aware of your body language
- Don’t slouch
- Relax your shoulders
- Stand up straight
- Don’t fidget with your hands
- Mainiain eye contact but don’t stare
- Walk confidently
These are all simple everyday techniques to improve mental toughness that have been used successfully for centuries. That is one long recommendation!
For more mental toughness tips and building mental toughness contact us.