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You can read ten books on Success and Mental Toughness, and they might all be full of excellent advice on how to be tough over 50 years old. If you don’t implement the ideas though, it’s all just good reading material to soothe the soul.

Being middle-aged can put you into a mindset that stereotypes you as a 50 something old person.

Time to sit back, kick off the shoes and read a Sunday newspaper. Take the dog for a walk and generally slow down in life.

Who wants that? Why want that?

Life goes on, and there’s lots to do and discover.

It takes mental toughness to implement the ideas that you know are going to help you enjoy more of life.

Mostly, it involves making a change. That seems like a radical idea to the mind, so it won’t take long before the excuses pop up to justify staying in your comfort zone.

This is the point at which you need to be mentally robust and step out into the world of change.

Each and every one of us has similar problems, we all want the same basic things that contribute towards our happiness and well-being. Even after hitting the Fifty years mark, the need to improve and be better than before is important. We have to keep swimming and avoid just treading water.

The problem is, that when we try to do what others have done before us, we often fail miserably at changing ourselves and our thinking. There’s a good reason for this.

You can only implement an idea of being tough with yourself, of using mental discipline as a tool to being more effective if it’s applied directly to the person you know yourself to be.

Who are you? What do you stand for? That’s important information.

If you can’t say who you are, what’s important to yourself, then you need to sit down and work this out into a bold statement that expresses your most basic values.

You can’t use a tool on anything if you don’t understand the mechanics of the thing. The thing is the person who wants to experience change in habits or personality.

The things that you value are the battles that you are prepared to fight. Nothing will be able to stop you from getting what you want when you fight for your values.

You should know what rouses your attention, or what raises your blood. It’s there that you will find the things which are important to your true self.

You’ve been living with these values and beliefs a long time already. They go beyond simple emotions or feelings. They are the result of a lifetime of learning through experience.

You know who you are, you just haven’t sat down and thought about it much. If you take a pen and paper and begin to write about yourself, the things you want to achieve and be very selfish about this writing, don’t include other people’s or family’s needs and wants, you will then begin to see an emerging pattern of thoughts that express who you are, what you value. It’s a rinse & repeat process. This is important.

Mental toughness for over 50s seems like a special thing, but it isn’t any different than for a younger person.

We are just coming at it from a different angle. We have experience that is worth using — even bad experiences are tucked away somewhere and can be great teachers about life.

I think many people fail to understand the meaning behind being tough. When we are young and male, we think it means physical fighting, so we learn a few boxing or karate moves. It’s good, but not much use in the office.
This practice continues today in the world. We used to call it character building.

Maybe, women find it easier to grasp the meaning behind mental toughness because nature has given them a closer proximity to emotional oriented actions in life. Generally, we know that women, young or middle-aged, don’t feel they need to learn how to beat the hell out of their peers like young men ( of my generation) did.

Being mentally tough doesn’t go out of fashion either, it has always been a necessary quality in finding success in any undertaking.

Often, people get the wrong end of stick. They tend to assume that mental toughness with yourself is about making yourself do things that are unpleasant. Being mean to yourself, punishing yourself and believing that it will create a tough mind, is bull-crap. Self-discipline is a creative endeavour that cultivates a mind that is ready for new ideas and always prepared to take on a tough challenge in life.

Mental toughness and austere thinking are poles apart. They don’t support each other in any way.

Self-discipline is discerning about what is needed for mental nourishment and growth. Therefore, discrimination about actions and priorities is a part of being tough with your thinking. Knowing what’s good for you and actively seeking to manifest it in your life — without the worry-fear factor interfering, is mental toughness.

Learning to make decisions quickly, is tough thinking. It’s a way of deciding without worrying. Often, we discover that the decision we made — whether it took days to decide or just a few minutes, was the right decision.

Tough thinking is about controlling our thoughts with self-discipline. We know that worry has no place in the process of deciding something, so we use the harsh thought of rejection to banish worry from our mind when deciding on an action.

Stepping out into the unknown is often the result of a decision made. It’s in the first movements or steps into the new experience, that we discover that our fears are still hankering at our heels.

Fear is the killer of all success.

Fearless living is the basis of successful and happy living.

Mental toughness will help you overcome your fears.

Overcoming fear seems like a mountain for most people. It always seems to find its way back into the thought process just at the critical time. But, if you develop a strategy to recognise the beginning of thoughts based on fear and teach the mind to reject them, it will become a habit. You won’t have to consciously use it after it has become a habit, habits are automated actions.

The process of allowing fear to enter your thoughts is a habitual action in itself. Develop a new habit of rejecting fear by being tough on it, refusing to listen to fear, is to recognise its many disguises.

It is very important to learn to recognise fear and worry thoughts. that way, you are in the position to nip them in the bud as they rise.

Fear is similar in nature to anger. If it is allowed to rise up, just a little, it will dominate the mind and body. It will get out of control. You want to control your thoughts with new habits of focusing on your real desires and needs.

Fear manifests as critical thinking in the negative. Often it starts with the kind voice of, “yes, but how will you deal with this..?” — “What will other people think when they know you’re going to work on this idea..?”, these thoughts come gently into the mind and sound like familiar voices that offer helpful ideas. Soon they’re ranting like a sad drunk in the street.

When a decision is made, it’s time for action. Worry thoughts — or thoughts that voice fears about the unknown future, are always full of questions which should have been dealt with in the decision making process. When you are in action, there is no place or time for worry, fear based thinking or questions about what you are doing.

You can never, ever know what the future holds. You must step out and find out.

Life is an adventure, not a scientific experiment. So, don’t imagine that you will ever first find out what the results of your actions will be in total sum, by over planning, over worrying, and over thinking. This will only lead to inactivity and more fear.

Fear develops by speculating on what might happen. You don’t know what could happen until you do it, so fear just gives you the worst scenario version of events to come. Don’t believe a word of it — it’s just your inner critic at work.

Don’t stop and listen to the complaining drunk on the street corner of your mind.

Next time you are out shopping, take a little time to observe how people select their purchases. The shelves are stacked with items by department and category. A shopper can spend several minutes deciding which shampoo to buy because the bottles are different colours, the style of writing appeals more to expensive taste or a cheap price makes it look tacky.

In the end, they make a choice because they have to. I bet, if you asked why they chose that particular shampoo, they’d be hard pressed to give a clear answer. The real answer is, they needed a bottle of shampoo and it was right in front of them the whole time. They knew that the contents was shampoo and that’s what they wanted — they just weren’t too sure about which colour bottle was a wise choice.

Such dilemmas.

Fearless living is the result of having a tough mind.

A tough mind is the result of exerting control over your thoughts. This is what it boils down to, controlling your own thought processes to get the results that you desire.

You are faced with emotions that react to situations, habits that spring up from the depths of the mind to put you into automatic mode, drinking, smoking, over-eating; these are the signs that you perceive the moment as stressful.

Developing strategies where you overcome stress reactions to everyday life leads to more control and the expression of your true will. The actions you take will be based on your values, not on a whim and fancy of feelings.

Tough mental attitude is not cold, or hard on other people. It takes energy and confidence to deal with all types of people throughout the day. Don’t suffer fools, but don’t fall into the trap of believing that being a tough-minded person is the same as being difficult, controversial and unapproachable. that won’t help you and it will act as a breeding ground for your fears about other people.

The world is made up of all sorts of spice and salts, we learn from others’ strengths and weaknesses.

Summing up the above:

  1. Fear is your biggest enemy — it has no value. It can be overcome by using strategies to counter it from rising in the mind.
  2. Worry is just trying to predict the future with worse case scenarios, it breeds fear and stops you in your tracks. Worry = No Action.
  3. Mental Toughness is about having control over the negative and wasteful thoughts that wander into your mind. Learning to control your thoughts is about developing intelligent strategies.
  4. Mental Toughness is not austere thinking, it is not about making yourself do things that you don’t want to. It’s about disciplining yourself to do the right things that lead to the right situations. It’s about controlling your journey into the new, better lifestyle that you really desire.
  5. Extra point: Imagination is powerful. Use it to see with, to imagine yourself working and living as you really desire. Your imagination is stronger than fear and worry. You control the vision of your thinking. Mere words are pale against the vision of a burning wish.
  6. Follow your star, find out who you are.

Written by

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living http://seandurham.eu

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