If you’ve had a look at my previous mental fitness posts (introduction, and domains of mental fitness), you are probably saying to yourself – “when is he actually going to publish some mental fitness techniques, rather than keep circling the issue?”
I promise in the next mental fitness post, I’ll start presenting techniques – 🙂
I wanted in this post however to define what I mean by the term “technique”, as I used it to describe a few different things.
Definition of “technique”
When I use the term ‘technique’ I am actually referring to a few different things.
Sometimes the simple act of gaining new knowledge is in itself a step towards mental fitness. For example, I might write about different cognitive biases that humans exhibit, that if you know about them can help you make better decisions. Or I might teach you about different behaviour change techniques (e.g. goal setting) that you can use to make positive lifestyle changes. In these examples, knowledge is the starting point for going about life in a different way.
An attitude or philosophy
There are a lot of helpful ideas and concepts from both western and eastern philosophies that individuals use to help guide them. Lots of smarter people than me have contemplated the many aspects of being human and developed guides for people.
Exactly what philosophies you will find helpful I cannot necessarily predict, but I can present ideas from multiple different philosophies, and you can decide which ones you find helpful as a guide in life. Take this article as an example of someone distilling down some Stoicism concepts for the purpose of giving individuals guidance on how to approach their lives.
An evidence-based practical exercise
I spend time trying to find peer-reviewed literature that has direct or indirect implications for building mental fitness.
An example of research that has direct implications is research that evaluates specific techniques to help people build the seven different areas of mental fitness that I described in the last post. The Greater Good In Action is an excellent example of a site that finds evidence-based practical exercises to build different aspects of well-being.
An example of research that has indirect implications, is research that examines psychological or behavioural predictors of one of the seven different areas. For example, finding that mobile phone use is associated with daily inattention, might suggest changing mobile phone habits will have positive effects.
The exercises derived from these studies will typically be relatively short, ranging from a few minutes to maybe a couple of hours at most. Sometimes they will be exercises that you are encouraged to repeat over couple of weeks (e.g. a gratitude journal).
The good thing about these exercises is that you don’t have to invest much time to determine whether they might be useful for you. You can try them, see if they are helpful, and retain those that are, and reject those that are not.
Some skillsets require significant time and investment to develop. For example, learning to manage depression and anxiety typically involves developing new habits, ways of thinking, and implementing daily strategies to manage difficult feelings.
Because of the internet, individuals now have access to a extraordinary range of programs and courses that can help them build many different skillsets. They can be found on MOOC sites, as well as tested therapeutic sites like Mindspot. In this blog, I will find and describe sites I think are valid ways of building mental fitness.
We’ll even be releasing some programs of our own (or programs that we have adapted). First off the ranks is our self-guided workbook for tackling procrastination, which is coming this week. It is a complete self-guided program for students trying to tackle this common problem. It was developed by drawing on the expertise and modules of the CCI.
When we recommend programs it will be targeted at people who really want to tackle a specific area of mental fitness in depth and are willing to invest the time and effort to do so.
We are going to have some fun looking at the different things you can do to build mental fitness.
You’ll also be glad to hear that this is the last explanatory post I’ll be writing about mental fitness for a while. In the next post, we’ll get down to looking at techniques.
I am approaching the process with an attitude of curiousity (I am interested to see what we find) and experimentation (interested to see if implementing any of the ideas makes my life better). I suggest you take a similar approach. Not everything I describe will be relevant or of value to you, but I hope some of the techniques we explore become a part of your mental fitness regimen.
Lets see where this journey takes us.