What I am I have made myself. -Sir Humphry Davy.
Amy Morin's Book Should be Required Reading for Everyone
I love it when I’m sent a book to review and I, literally, have trouble putting it down. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin is the latest book to fit this description.
I’ll tell you what reading it reminded me of: Sitting in a Baptist Church in the South on a Sunday morning as the Man of God in front of the congregation was on FIRE! He paces and preaches and preaches and paces – the whole time leaving you thinking things like, “That’s right!,” “That’s SO GOOD!,” and “AMEN!”
I’ve had the supreme privilege and honor of sitting in many Sunday morning services just like that. They’re downright tingly to your body, mind, and spirit because they serve as wonderful wake up calls.
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is a wake up call in its own right. I can’t say that it stirs the Spirit necessarily, but that’s not what it’s setting out to do. THIS particular wake-up call stirs your mind and even your heart.
And does so with aplomb.
Expanding on her viral post that has become an international phenomenon, a psychotherapist offers simple yet effective solutions for increasing mental strength and finding happiness and success in life.
As a licensed clinical social worker, college psychology instructor, and psychotherapist, Amy Morin has seen countless people choose to succeed despite facing enormous challenges. That resilience inspired her to write 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a web post that instantly went viral, and was picked up by the Forbes website.
Morin’s post focused on the concept of mental strength, how mentally strong people avoid negative behaviors—feeling sorry for themselves, resenting other people’s success, and dwelling on the past. Instead, they focus on the positive to help them overcome challenges and become their best.
In this inspirational, affirmative book, Morin expands upon her original message, providing practical strategies to help readers avoid the thirteen common habits that can hold them back from success. Combining compelling anecdotal stories with the latest psychological research, she offers strategies for avoiding destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors common to everyone.
Like physical strength, mental strength requires healthy habits, exercise, and hard work. Morin teaches you how to embrace a happier outlook and arms you to emotionally deal with life’s inevitable hardships, setbacks, and heartbreaks—sharing for the first time her own poignant story of tragedy, and how she summoned the mental strength to move on. As she makes clear, mental strength isn’t about acting tough; it’s about feeling empowered to overcome life’s challenges.
Each chapter goes into great (eye-opening) detail about the pitfalls of the 13 things successful people do not do. As you read through the book, you will (given the fact that you look human to me) recognize yourself in a few scenarios.
This is a good thing! WHEN you realize bad habits or choices, THEN you’re able to give yourself a good old-fashioned kick in the seat of the pants and vow never to go down that dead end road again.
That’s why I call these moments wake up calls. They sound off alarms that help you shake out of a deep sleep and get moving in the right direction.
Amy Morin has put together an absolutely wonderful book that reads fast but leaves a lasting impression. Since I read it (a few weeks ago), I’ve often thought of her words.
Chapter 4: They Don’t Focus on Things They Can’t Control
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” - Maya Angelou
One of my favorite chapters in the book addresses the fact that Successful People Don’t Focus on Things They Can’t Control. Not only would it be a colossal waste of time and energy to focus on things you cannot control – it sucks time and energy AWAY that could actually be productive.
“It feels so safe to have everything under control, but thinking we have the power to always pull the strings can become problematic.” (Page 74)
The chapter includes examples and “symptoms” of this type of thinking.
“We can’t possibly make all of our circumstances and all the people in our lives fit into the way we think things should be. When you learn to let go of the details you can’t control, the amount of time and energy you’ll be able to devote to the things you can control will give you the ability to accomplish incredible feats.” (Page 75)
How great is that?!
This one chapter, alone, should be required reading for everyone in the world. If you cannot control it… let it go. Not only will everyone else around you be happier, you’ll be freer.
As I read through this chapter, I thought of a few modern-day illustrations of this bad habit.
- Women who call or text their boyfriends/husbands again and again and again while he is on the golf course, fishing, watching a game, etc. If the truth came out…. they don’t want them THERE! They want them where they want them and yet, somehow, lost control of the situation. He wandered away! What’s a gal to do? She can retain a little bit of control by keeping tabs on him. Personally, I think a trip to Target would be a lot funner, but that’s just me.
- This one’s timely – how about holiday get-togethers? Tension often runs high because every family has that one person who acts as though no one EVER does enough for them. They’re sour and resentful because they’re unable to control what everyone else says and does.
- Anyone with co-workers knows how maddening control freaks can be. They aren’t the least bit interested in being a team player because they want to be the puppet master. They want to tell everyone else what “their job” is while refusing to let any “job descriptions” stick to them!
The list goes on, of course. This is one of the most powerful chapters in the book -but each chapter is profoundly powerful.
I know that 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is a book you’ll love. Even more importantly, I know it’s a book you’ll get A LOT out of. One of the first things I thought after I finished the book was, “The phrase game changer is woefully overused… heck, I overuse it on a gruesome level… THIS book truly is a game changer and could help SO MANY PEOPLE!”
I thought it then and I think it now. You need this book. Period.
On December 23, you’ll be able to buy 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do on Amazon. Click through and pre-order it now!
From the Inside Cover
The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Mental Strength
Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Or as psychotherapist Amy Morin asks, what should we avoid when we encounter adversity? Through her years counseling others and her own experiences navigating personal loss, Morin realized it is often the habits we cannot break that are holding us back from true success and happiness. Indulging in self-pity, agonizing over things beyond our control, obsessing over past events, resenting the achievements of others, or expecting immediate positive results holds us back. This list of things mentally strong people don’t do resonated so much with readers that when it was picked up by Forbes.com it received ten million views.
Now, for the first time, Morin expands upon the thirteen things from her viral post and shares her tried-and-true practices for increasing mental strength. Morin writes with searing honesty, incorporating anecdotes from her work as a college psychology instructor and psychotherapist as well as personal stories about how she bolstered her own mental strength when tragedy threatened to consume her.
Increasing your mental strength can change your entire attitude. It takes practice and hard work, but with Morin’s specific tips, exercises, and troubleshooting advice, it is possible to not only fortify your mental muscle but also drastically improve the quality of your life.
About the Author
Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, college psychology instructor, and psychotherapist. She is the only person in the psychology industry who is talking about mental strength on a global level. She lives in Enfield, Maine.
Snap Yourself Out of a Bad Mood FAST!
Bad moods happen to all of us every now and again – and usually we can’t put one single mopey finger on WHAT got us here, WHO did this to us, WHEN we’re going to feel normal again, HOW to snap out of it, or WHERE we can hide in the meantime. All we know for sure is that, if our mood had a color, it’d be gray.
One of my daughters put her own spin on it once as she came through the kitchen. I asked her how she was doing and she said, “I think my face has forgotten how to smile today.” Draggy.
Whenever your face has forgotten how to smile, try one of the Ten Mood Lifters below. These are 10 sure-fire ways to snap out of your bad mood fast. You’ll get an instant lift and – heck if you do them often enough, your face might just forget how to frown.
- Go outside. A little fresh air, combined with natural sunlight is a sure-fire Pick-Me-Up. Even if it’s smack in the middle of winter, bundle up and walk around your yard for about 10 minutes. There’s something invigorating about the outdoors and it’s a quick cure for the droops.
- Take a stretching break. Stand up and stretch your hands toward the ceiling, then bend over and touch the floor. Next, stretch slowly from side to side. Repeat the entire cycle several times – breathing deeply the entire time. It’ll refresh your mind and mood. Just be sure to take deep breaths – a lot of the feel-good power in stretching lies in the breathing.
- Spend some time with a pet. There’s something profoundly peaceful and fun about petting a furry loved one. The love you give comes back and, let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to do anything but smile when you’re looking into an animal’s loving eyes.
- If possible, elevate your heart with a little exercise. Aerobic activity is one of the best ways to slap a good mood on your psyche. Take a walk, pick up sticks in your yard, or clean your house with gusto. Get mooving and grooving. If you do it with some really upbeat music, the effects will be even better. My favorite music to listen to when at times like this are 80’s and Motown – you just can’t stay draggy when Smokey Robinson’s Cruisn’. No way, no how.
- Recall a time when you couldn’t stop laughing. It was probably a time when laughter was unacceptable, right?! That usually seems to be the case. In high school, my best friend, Randy, and I would break out into fits of laughter all the time. Sometimes we’d be on the phone and there’d be no sound at all except laughter for 5 minutes. When we thought we had it under control, one of us would fall victim to the giggles again, then the other would crack up. I can still hear the sound of his laugh in my head and it still makes me smile. He’d love to make me laugh at the most ridiculous times – in the middle of class was his favorite opportunity. He got me so bad once during a college lecture that I thought I’d pass out. Actually, passing out would have been less embarrassing. My youngest daughter, Stephany, may have gotten my ticklebox at THE most inappropriate time, ever, though. When she was around 2, we were listening to a sermon… a long, long sermon mind you… at a church we didn’t normally visit. She fell asleep halfway through the sermon. After about 30 minutes she sat up, and IN A FRIGHTFULLY quiet auditorium said, “He’s not through yet?!!” One of her sisters (Brittany) fought giggles off with me – and about 40 other people – but her other sister (Emily) looked more mortified than anyone has ever looked! When I need a good laugh, I think back to each of their three adorable faces at that moment.
- Watch a favorite sitcom, stand-up routine or movie. Laughter really is the best medicine, especially when it’s your mood that needs a remedy. If you can’t get to a television, don’t underestimate YouTube. Enter the name of a favorite old sitcom, comedian, or bloopers to a favorite show.
- Change things up! If you’re able to, change what you’re wearing. Brush your hair, brush your teeth, and even wash your face. Your mind “gets” that you’re trying to start fresh and it welcomes the idea. If you’re at work, straighten up your desk, readjust your clothes – maybe even untie and tie (or unbuckle and buckle) your shoes. You know how you “refresh” a webpage if it hasn’t “loaded” properly? Same premise. Refresh and try again.
- Talk to someone who lifts your spirits. All of us have at least one person who seems to make our life a better place just by being around. They always seem to know what to say and what not to say. Their attitude and humor act as a tonic. If you’re feeling low, search them out – take them to lunch or out for coffee. Let them work their magic on you.
- Do something special for yourself. Whether it’s a trip to Starbucks or a bouquet of flowers (some days call for both), do something that’ll bring a smile to your face.
- Do something special for someone else. I saved the best for last. When you bring a smile to someone else’s face, it’s impossible to feel anything but joy and happiness. By the same token, making your cat purr or your dog wag its tail will also bring about great contentment. When you create happiness for others, you create it for yourself as well.
Below are a few of the most common physical and behavioral symptoms of addiction. If any of these are currently happening in your life or the life of someone you care about, it may be time to seek help.
Common Signs of Addiction
As stated before it can be pretty hard to determine when your bad habit has crossed over into an addiction. While signs can vary depending upon the person and the type of addiction itself, the below symptoms can give you a good idea on where you (or your loved one) fall:
- Inability to Stop Taking Substances of Performing the action – Whether the addition is to porn or some form of substance, a person who is addicted is unable to stop. Even if the attempt is made to give it up (without professional assistance), it generally only lasts a short amount of time before they relapse.
- Withdrawal Symptoms – For substance abusers that try to quit or go for long periods without using, there is a risk of withdrawal systems. Withdrawal symptoms can vary by person and may include: cravings, moodiness, the inability to focus, feelings of depression, bitterness, and anger. There is also a chance for increased appetite, violence, seizures, hallucinations, sweats, and insomnia (the inability to sleep).
- Isolation – It is very common for people to completely isolate themselves from social events or recreational activities. This is often an attempt to keep friends and family members from learning of their secret.
- Increased Financial Difficulties – Most addictions have a cost, and as a person’s need for their addiction heightens, they begin to take money from other household needs to compensate the cost of their addiction. As such, they will begin to run out of income to take care of important things like eating and paying for utilities. Over time, it can result in serious financial strain requiring them to ask friends and family members for financial assistance.
- Risky Behaviors – In some instances, addiction can cause you to act recklessly. This might be something like driving while under the influence, engaging in risky sexual behaviors, or even getting in trouble with the law. This of course could lead to fines and/or repeated arrests.
- Relationship Issues – most addictions will cause a strain in a person’s relationships (both personal and professional). This could be anything from broken relationships within their family, to being fired from their jobs.
Again, these are not all the signs of addiction, and each person’s circumstances will vary. However, if you’ve noticed any of these signs in yourself or someone you care for, you should most certainly reach out to a professional for help.
Realizing that you have a problem is the first and most important step to recovering. Your recovery success is greatly improved by one’s ability to face the addiction without minimizing or making excuses. Once you’re ready to take that step, it will be necessary for you to find professional assistance to kick the addiction for good. As addiction in and of itself is complex, there will be various layers to your recovery process that should also be taken into consideration. Recovery is much better when you have the support of others on your side. There are several ways you can begin your road to recovery including:
- Going to a drug rehab facility or young adult recovery program
- Seeking outpatient assistance with a therapist or counselor specializing in addiction
- Attend group meetings to receive support from other recovering addicts.
Whichever route you decided to take, getting help is the most important thing. Review the pros and cons of each source of help and make a decision that will work best for your lifestyle and immediate needs. As you begin your quest for sober living, remember that there is no instant cure. Recovering will take time, determination, and the support of others. However, for those who really want to make a change for the better, recognizing the signs and getting help is ultimately your ticket back to sober living.
Quick Lesson from Henry Kissinger
I love this story:
Henry Kissinger once asked an aide to prepare a report for him. The aide toiled away until his report was finished. Not long after receiving the report, Mr. Kissinger returned it to the aide with a note that read, “Redo it.”
The aide worked day and night and redid the report. Again, it was delivered to Mr. Kissinger, who, again, returned it with the same note.
The diligent aide redid the report and asked to see Mr. Kissinger, himself, face to face. After handing over the report, the aide told him, “I have completed this report three times, and this is the best job I can do.”
Kissinger replied, “In that case, I’ll read it now.”
Moral of the story: Never, ever, ever settle for less than the best – from anyone else OR from yourself. ~ Joi
That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it. – George Foreman
In the minds of our children, we are superheroes. We have super human strengths and a host of other powers (x-ray vision, super bionic ears, fortune telling abilities, etc) that enable us to be awesome parents. As such, our children monitor us closely to determine how THEY should live a Christ-centered life. Simply put…we are their role models. When you consider the fact that we are the foundation for how they may come to live their lives, it may be time to reevaluate some things.
Watch What You Say
Have you ever said or done something without thinking and later found your child repeating it at a later date? “From the mouths of babes” is often how we get the bigger picture. Our words are very powerful and our children take heed. They learn from us how to communicate to others and rationalize our emotions. That said we need to be more conscious of what we say and how we say it.
Take Care of Yourself
As parents, taking care of yourself is typically a task that is put on the back burner. You’re so busy caring for your children and the household, that finding time to do what’s right for you can be rough. However, if you’re not at your best physically and emotionally, how can you be the ideal role model for your children?
- Schedule and keep regular medical appointments – It can be easy to go two and three years without having gone to the doctor for a physical, but this teaches your children that health is not a top priority and that going to the doctor or dentist is only vital when something is terribly wrong. Be sure to schedule your physicals and dental appointments as a family so that your children can see it’s a top priority.
- Watch what you consume – Eating healthy in front of your children is ideal. This teaches them the importance of a well balanced diet from the very beginning. Make sure that you incorporate the five food groups into your diet as often as possible (of course a happy meal or two won’t hurt). Food is not the only thing that you need to watch the consumption of in front of children. Drugs (legal and illegal) and alcohol consumption should also be kept to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately, futuresofpalmbeach.com reports that drug consumption has increased by more than eight percent in the last twelve years. While a drink of wine with dinner or a pain pill to numb an ache can be alright on occasion, overuse could lead to abuse and addiction problems for your child down the road.
- Taking Care of Your Mind – your mental state of being is also viewed by your children. While you might think that you’re hiding it, feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, anger, etc can be easily detected by your children. Take the time to care for your emotional well-being. Whether that means finding things to do on your down time or seeking professional help if things get out of hand, it is important to show your children how to handle overwhelming emotion.
Don’t Be Afraid of Being Human
Lastly, as a role model, you cannot be afraid of being human. Children need to see that you’re not perfect or else they develop a perfectionist complex (believing they too must be perfect). When you make mistakes, admit them. The Christian religion should help in this area as when role models from the Bible fall short, they ask God’s forgiveness and essentially find a better way to deal with their issues in the future.
No one is perfect, and there will come times during your role as a parent that you fall short. However, by keeping the basics in mind of watching what you say and how you treat others, taking care of yourself mentally and physically and showing that it’s okay to make mistakes, your children will learn to be better people. Essentially, the biggest guide you have along the way is your faith in Christ. Use this tool and others to help you be the best you that you can be…. So that your children grow up to be the best that they can be.
Be of good cheer. Do not think of to-day’s failures, but of success that may come to-morrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will have a joy in overcoming obstacles–a delight in climbing rugged paths which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometimes slip backward, if the road were always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. -Helen Keller.
I Am Who I Am, Your Approval is Not Needed
If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. – Johann von Goethe
True story: When I was on the verge of high school, I was in a department store shopping with my mom and my one of my best friends, Tamra. We were shopping for back to school clothes and Tamra and I each had a certain amount of money to spend. I will just go ahead and admit it – I was up to my elbows in the “hot new” and “popular” clothes. Calvin Klein jeans, crazy colored tops, and.. of course… the coolest of the cool shoes.
At some point, I was mid-rant about the price of a pair of jeans when I realized I’d misplaced my buddy. While my mom scampered off to look at something else (and to probably escape my “How can I get everything I simply must have if the price tags are so unfair?? Life isn’t faaaaiiirrr….” meltdown), I went off in search of Tamra. I found her in a section of clothes I didn’t even know existed – inexpensive ones.
She said some sort of nonsense about being able to actually get MORE clothes if she bought CHEAPER clothes.
I’m sure I wondered how she and I were even friends at that point. I mean, what was with this girl?
Trying to save her from herself, I leaned in and whispered something like, “But no one’s wearing these clothes.”
My buddy supreme lit up and said, “That’s why I love them – I’ll be the only one!”
I’d LOVE to be able to say that the early teen version of me had a moment of clarity and tossed down my Calvin Klein’s and pulled out some clothes from Tamra’s goldmine but, alas, I did not. Enlightenment was a word I could probably barely spell, let alone claim ownership of.
We were going to be entering high school for the first time, I was not going to do it in clothes that weren’t all the rage! I would not walk through those doors without the most expensive jeans in the store on my behind!
After about two hours (feeling sorry for my mom yet?), we left the store. Tamra had more bags than me… more clothes than me.. and even had money left.
I thought possibly she was an alien. I walked out with my bag… yes, BAG.. felling like I had just won the shopping game.
Funny thing, though, my mom went on and on about Tamra’s approach. Praised her as we walked to the car… praised her as we ate the lunch she treated us to… at one point, it hit me that all this “praise” was as much for my benefit as it was her’s. She kept looking at me as she said words like smart and thrifty.. and something about stretching money. I’m pretty sure the whole lunch thing was so I could hear about “making the most of your money” and “making it last.” How “clothes were clothes” blah blah blah.
Great. So now I had two aliens.
Oddly enough, over the years I came to realize that… of course… I was the one who “didn’t get it.” I was too preoccupied with wearing what the other kids were wearing to realize that the greatest thing in life is to make your own way, be yourself, and not worry about who anyone else thinks you should be.
Or what they think you should wear.
The whole enlightenment thing didn’t hit me until I was in my Senior year of High School.
My poor mom.
It finally became clear to me that the coolest thing in the world was to stand out from everyone else… not blend in.
Whether it’s what you wear, how you do your hair, how you walk, how you talk, or any dang thing that makes you you… don’t let anyone try to re-make you or re-do you. I don’t care whether they think their intentions are great or not. They don’t have the right. It’s YOUR life.
They have their own.
Truth is, if anyone tries to make you into something or someone you’re not, they’re actually the one with the problem, not you. If they were completely comfortable in their own skin and at peace with life, they’d have better things to do than worry about your hair. Or clothes. Or anything.
Personally, I cannot imagine taking issue with something personal about another individual. If they’re mistreating someone or putting someone else at risk… sure, I’d have to say something. But if they want to braid garlic cloves into their hair and dress in sackcloth, I’m not going to let it rock my boat. I won’t sit downwind from them, but I’ll let them stink if they want to.
It’s their right.
There’s an old Polish proverb my husband loves, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Pretty much I think you could also say it this way: “That’s none of my dang business, so I’m going to just do me!”
Be you…. let them be them.
Life’s better that way.
December 6, 2014