“The ageing and dying process is largely the process of dehydration and in my 25+ years of studying nutrition I have found NOTHING that a person can do that is more important to his or her health than change the kind of water they drink.”
Thirty years ago vegetarians and joggers emerged as yet another loony sect.
Thirty years ago health food was an unviable commercial concept.
Yet today virtually everyone has altered their physical lifestyle.
Today the loony sect buys new age music, reads books on self-help, self-improvement, positive attitude and goes to seminars.
Tomorrow virtually everyone…….
The ankle bone is connected to the shin bone. The shin bone is connected to the knee bone, which in turn is connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone, which in turn is connected to the backbone. And the backbone is connected to the neck bone, which in turn is connected to the brain bone: commonly known as the skull.
The whole thing is held together by a complex series of muscles, tendons, ligaments and so forth……
On the outer layer there is the skin, a few hairs and some protrusions. These protrusions depend somewhat, but not always, upon which member of the species it is.
Strategically placed on the inside are a wide variety of organs such as the liver and kidneys, lungs, and your heart to mention but a few.
Throw a few glands and nodes in, a couple of thousand miles of blood vessels, eight pints of blood made up of red and white cells, and a thing called the brain, and bingo… you have a human being. YOU.
Or do you? Actually this thing could be any one of thousands of species within our fine animal kingdom.
It’s only when you chuck in another vastly complex series of components that make up the brain and mind of Homo Sapiens that one gets a YOU.
Although you all share some parts of your brain with the most primitive of reptiles and animals, as can be witnessed at some sporting events, the one thing which should separate you and I from the animal kingdom are advanced thought processes such as the ability to reason, to be logical and to be creative.
Not only should your brain possess the ability to reason, but it is also capable of telling your body to perform some quite remarkable feats. In common with many other creatures your brain controls your heartbeat, the movement of your limbs, your hormonal secretions, your libido and all other bio-rhythms. It tells you when to run away and when to stand up and protect yourself and your loved ones.
It tells you when to eat, when to drink and when to sleep.
But when did you ever see an elephant dribble a ball on a football pitch and shoot it past a goalkeeper or a leopard float a ball eighty yards to a wide receiver? And did you ever hear of a chimpanzee verbally proclaiming his understanding of Einsteins theory of relativity and then washing up the pots after having cooked a gourmet meal?
The human brain has outstripped the evolutionary development of even our closest ancestor, the ape. Where your brain shares certain areas in common with all other primates and reptiles it also possesses an extra bit that the others don’t: the neo cortex or new brain.
It is this part of your brain that enables you to distinguish a jumbled mass of sound and interpret it into intelligible language, and then formulate a response. It is this part of the human brain that has enabled it to learn how to extract metal from the ground, shape it, build a rocket and a computer to control it and send humanity soaring off to the moon and beyond.
The human brain is truly amazing. Some may even argue that it has developed and learned to achieve too much too quickly. The technology it has created has possibly changed society and its expectations so rapidly, in the last century, that many people simply cannot cope any more. The incidence of brain-overload or stress related illness is at an all-time high.
Many Doctors I know, and this is borne out by a recent British medical Association survey, reckon that up to ninety percent of all the patients that they see are suffering from brain related illnesses, whether that is stress, depression or what appears on the outside to be a physical condition. You see, the brain controls the body. And when the brain is not functioning well it affects every single bodily function.
Something feels wrong. So off you trot to the doctors for a little diagnostic analysis: a quick check up.
Apart from checking the symptoms of the illness or ailment, checking your blood pressure, heart and lungs, your doctor may well ask a few lifestyle questions such as how many cigarettes you smoke, how many fry-ups you eat, how much coffee and tea you drink, how much alcohol you drink and how much exercise you take.
Nowadays your doctor, if he or she has time, will likely also ask you about other lifestyle factors such as what is going on in your mind and how much stress you are under at work or w__h your relationships. So often nowadays the physical symptoms lie rooted in the most phenomenally complex and complicated, almost too clever for its own good, mass of protoplasm that we currently know to exist in this universe. The one that weighs less than two percent of your total body weight, yet takes twenty percent of your body`s oxygen. The bit inside the skull bone: the human brain.
In the future it is likely that the first check-up will be a check-up from the neck up. It’s the most logical place to start, especially when there are no visible physical symptoms as is often the case nowadays.
Scientists have now proved conclusively that an unhappy brain will more often than not lead to an unhappy, unwell body. Just look at how some people let themselves go and develop physical symptoms when they become depressed.
Whereas a fertile, balanced, fit, goal-oriented brain is capable of the most remarkable achievements.
In this first audio you will be able to carry out a brief check-up from the neck-up and see what your level of mental fitness is like. Although this is an introduction to the concept of mental fitness and is based around a series of questions you will be able to turn the questions around and apply them as practical ideas. In the series that will follow we will go into each component of mental fitness one letter at a time and each audio will be packed with practical, useable ideas that will help you boost your mental fitness.
For this audio find a pen and a piece of paper and keep a note of your score.
A stands for attitude. Do you have a positive or a negative attitude or outlook on life? If you have a positive attitude people will flock to you yet if your attitude is negative then others will avoid you like the plague, or as if you had some socially unacceptable disease.
The quick test here is this: do you focus on problems or on solutions? Do you look for what is wrong in the situation or do you look for what is right?
Do you look firstly for the bad in people or for the good. Do you like to put people down or do you like to encourage and build people up?
When a glass is filled with liquid to the half-way point do you see it as half full or half empty?
Do you keep dwelling upon what is wrong in your life or do you take stock of what is right and remind yourself of those things?
When someone asks you how it’s going do you say fair to middlin, not bad, okay I suppose or do you say yeah great thanks how about you. You say that even when things might be a little tricky because in your mind there are many people who are in much less fortunate circumstances than you. You know that however bad things may seem it’s a lot better than being a starving child in a third world country.
Do you think of others or mainly about yourself? Do you contribute and give of yourself to others, without expecting reward?
If you were part of a discussion group that suggested abolishing prisons or legalising cannabis would you poo poo it out of hand or would you actively explore the possibilities of an alternative situation before coming to a conclusion. Are you closed minded? Rigid?
Are you bubbly, bouncy and enthusiastic and do people enjoy your company?
Do you accept what life deals you lying down or do you treat everything as a positive learning experience?
Do you look for what can be done or what can’t be done?
The extraordibary athlete, Carl Lewis, once said
“Scientists have proven that it’s impossible to long‑jump 30 feet, but I don’t listen to that kind of talk. Thoughts like that have a way of sinking into your feet”. That’s a positive atitude.
You know we are all born with a totally unique genetic make-up. Even your fingerprint is unique to you. Within that genetic make-up some people are born with a pre-disposition to be optimistic and others to be pessimistic. Thereafter their upbringing will shape that tendency.
If your attitude is possibly slightly on the negative side and you are able to realise it, and would like to change it then that in itself is the first step along the route to developing a positive outlook or attitude.
Write down on a scale of one to ten how positive your attitude usually is. There is no right or wrong answer here just the truth. Keep a note of your score.
B stands for beliefs. Your belief in what you think is achievable. If you were a fifteenth century landowner would you have believed in the possibility of space flight. Do you believe in the possibility of communicating without speech?
More importantly what do you believe of yourself. Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe that you can and will achieve the things that you set out for yourself to achieve?
Do you believe that you will live for a long time? Do you believe that you will be happy? Do you believe that you could walk on a half metre wide plank of wood on the ground for three metres without falling off. Of course you could. If that same plank of wood, half a metre wide was placed ten metres above the ground and below were burning hot coals or piranha infested waters do you believe that you could still do it? Maybe. If the same plank was suspended between two high-rise buildings five hundred feet in the air and the cars below seemed like little toys, do you believe you could do it?
For a new car of your choice could you do it? If you were roped up and there was a safety net below and a vast sum of money waiting to be collected at the other side would you?
Funny things beliefs.
People have believed that they would become ill and they have done. Yet people have believed that they would become well and have done. People have believed that they would get burned by a hot poker and come out in blisters when touched by a piece of cold metal.
Virtually every study that has ever been carried out has shown that as you believe then so too will you achieve. Your beliefs are potentially as constructive as they are destructive. Nations fight wars and many lives are needlessly lost for the sake of beliefs.
The chances are that you have developed very set beliefs about your own life. What you can and cannot achieve in terms of wealth, health and happiness. How attractive you are, how clever you are, whether you are a nice person, how long you might live….
How much do you believe in yourself?
One thing is for sure: if you don’t believe in yourself then others never will. If your beliefs work well for you then the fruits of those beliefs will be harvested many fold.
How well do you rate your belief systems on a scale of one to ten?
C stands for communication. There is little or no doubt that how well you communicate with other people will have a dramatic effect upon nearly every aspect of your life. Whether it is talking to your bank manager or trying to chat someone up. Do you consider yourself to be a good communicator? Do you put your point across eloquently and elegantly? Do others tend to listen when you have something to say?
If you are fortunate enough to have them available do you communicate with all three of your major senses: your voice, your eyes and your feelings or do you possibly avert your eyes when talking or fail to express your feelings.
How good is your other form of non verbal communication, your body language. And how good are you at recognising the body language of others.
A study of great leaders has shown that one of the things that they all had in common was their ability to communicate well. They share a certain mental agility when it comes to their communication skills.
And then there is how you communicate with yourself, which is equally important. Do you say nice, positive, constructive things to yourself..?
Communication is, of course, a two-way flow. To be a great communicator you also need to be a great listener.
Big talkers tend to be poor listeners. Yet it may surprise you to know that they also tend to have a very low sense of self-worth. That is normally why they do it. So, to an extent they may be forgiven. The worse kinds of big talkers are the `bigger, better’ types. Theirs is always bigger and better than yours. Have you ever come across this creature. For the sake of this explanation we shall choose the male variety of bigger, better. See if you recognise him: he was in the SAS. He has slept with more women than he has had hot dinners. His car does nought to sixty quicker than yours. His upwardly mobile professional sports career was only halted by injury.
He never really listens to what you are saying other than superficially enough to see where he can continue his relentless trail of one-upmanship. Of course he is a pillock of the very first order. He probably treats his wife and children the same way too.
There are several other types. There is the pig ignorant type, and the indifferent type and of course the totally disinterested type to mention but a few. What they all have in common is an inability to listen.
Sad really, because big listeners are popular. Especially within the family unit.
Would you describe yourself as an understanding and compassionate type of human being? It is a wonderful human trait that so very few seem to possess. Can people come to you and talk to you because you listen and have an understanding nature or do you brush people off. Do you have an openness to understand others point of view. When you are negotiating with others, whether in business or in a more social environment do you deliberately attempt to understand their point of view, their opinions and their position?
In business the very best negotiators always attempt to understand their counterpart’s position and point of view and express that to them. In that way you are able to appreciate their circumstances and negotiate a deal based upon the principle of win-win. Everyone is therefore happy with the arrangement and many more deals are likely to follow. If you fail to understand their position and negotiate on the traditional, old fashioned basis of win-lose then you may seal the deal on the day, but you will leave a discontent counterpart either in the short term or the long term. It is not a recipe for any lasting good relationship. Eventually they will no longer deal with you, not like you very much and leave you looking for new pastures. Yet even in those new pastures the jungle drums will have sounded your approach and people will be wary of you.
This happens in relationships too. Do you take the time to listen to and understand your partner, and his or her point of view? Do you take the time to listen to and understand your kids, your parents or your friends?
Do you listen carefully to your loved one? Do you listen carefully to your children? Do you listen carefully to your friends and business colleagues
Do they listen to you?
Rate yourself now, on a scale of one to ten, for your communication skills: your ability to talk so that people listen and your abuility to listen so that people can talk.
D stands for decisions. How well do you make decisions?
Are you decisive or are you a ditherer? A non-decision maker?
There are three types of decision in this world. Good decisions, bad decisions and non decisions.
Imagine now that you are at the top of the mountain on a skiing holiday and suddenly the weather is closing in on you quickly as it sometimes does. A good decision would be to take your skis off and walk back twenty yards up the slope to the chairlift and go back down to the bottom.
A bad decision would be to try and ski back down to the bottom, especially as you might get caught off-piste in a white out.
A non-decision would be to hang around, weighing up the choices, unsure quite what to do. That non decision could cost you dearly. It could even cost you your life!
In reality then all decisions are good ones, as long as they are not non decisions.
If you are an indecisive type of person then you are potentially in all kinds of emotional and career trouble. A non decisive mind is virtually always a troubled mind!
Have you ever stood in a supermarket or a retail shop clutching an prospective purchase and been unable to decide whether to buy it or not. Or maybe you were holding two items and could not decide which of them to buy. Whichever one it was try and recall those feelings and thoughts now. As you start to feel just a little uncomfortable now it might interest you to know that in the moment of making a decision like that you experience temporary insanity.
Do you have any unresolved issues in your business or personal life?
Unresolved issues clog up your brain, as they are simply matters that you have taken no decision about. They create a kind of fog that can shroud your whole thinking. Try taking one unresolved issue in your life, possibly even an uncomfortable memory, and make a decision about it. Get it out in the open and make a decision about it.
Stop the tape and do it.
Here is another one for you right now. Are you going to simply listen to this audio tape or are you going to go away and become a more confident decision maker? Or are you going to think about it and decide later.
How good a decision maker are you right now?
Would you make a good army officer and sometimes make quick life saving decisions or would you take just that little too long to decide and squander an opportunity or worse, allow the enemy to sneak up from behind whilst you were dithering.
A strong management trait is the ability to make quick decisions. Right or wrong make the decision. Metaphorically speaking decisions are like roadblocks. Do you stop and wait for the block to clear. Do you look for a way around the block. Or do you smash straight through the block. Or do you embrace and shake hands with the arch enemy of all decision making:
Rate yourself on your decision making ability on a scale of one to ten.
E stands for your environment, and, although we are not talking ozone layers, recycling or rain forests here, it is interesting to note the huge increase in concern to run our planet more efficiently running almost in tandem with the desire to understand and run the human brain more efficiently.
The type of environment I am referring to here is the people and the stimuli with which you surround yourself This one thing will have an enormous impact upon your own mental fitness and general well being.
Do you mix with purposeful, go-getting, bouncy and positive people or do you mix with negos. Are you associating with people with a positive attitude or with whingers, dream-stealers, gossips, excuse-makers, blamers and energy thieves.
Do you feed your mind with stimulating brain food such as good documentary and good books or do you watch crisis oriented soap operas.
Some years ago a group of Asian Jews left their homeland, to live, study and work in a Kibbutz. Upon entering the commune they were tested for their IQ levels, and achieved an average of 95. At the very same time a group of European Jews entered the same kibbutz and were tested at an average of 115. Six months later, before they left the kibbutz, both groups were re-tested after having lived, studied, and worked together during their stay. The European Jews had actually increased their average IQ by ten points to 125.
One might well have expected the Asian Jews to have shown a similar increase. In fact, the test showed that the Asian Jews had also increased their to 125. This increase of 30 points was due to the environment that they had been in and the people that they had mixed with. Many other studies have shown that IQ and attitude is very malleable, given the correct environment. The reverse has been proven to be true when individuals mix in the wrong environment.
Rate yourself now, on a scale of one to ten, for the environment with which you stimulate your brain.
F stands for food. Yes food, the stuff you eat and drink. Have you ever gone to work with a stonking hangover and just not been able to concentrate properly or function very well in general. Do you think that there might be a little clue here?
Might it be that alcohol is a poison and that after hitting the stomach it is cleverly filtered off to the brain. It is not your body that acts all weird under the influence of booze, it is your brain, which controls your body.
That same brain of yours responds to all of the food and nutrients that you put in your body. More than that it must have a good balance of everything to function at all well. Remember that your brain is the most complex piece of protoplasm in the whole wide world, capable of sending and receiving messages quicker than any computer ever built or likely to be built. A poor copy would need the Houses of Parliament to house it and all of the water in the River Thames to cool it.
Water. Yes the brain needs water too. It needs water to assist in the breaking down and the production of complex amino acids, neuro peptides and enzymes. It needs water to enable its neuro transmitters to send and receive messages efficiently. Those messages influence hormonal secretions, which also need water to work efficiently.
Your brain is actually capable of producing natural opioids, some of which are released after strenuous exercise and are associated with the `natural high’ that some people feel after a vigorous workout. Under normal circumstances these are transmitted freely around your brain by a series of carriers. However these carriers are constantly being gobbled up by enzymes.
In short it is somewhat like pond life, with its own intricate food chains therein. For your pond, in your mental garden to function correctly it needs enough nutrition to satisfy all of the organisms within it or else it will go sadly out of balance.
If you pour pollution into your mental pond then all hell lets loose.
So the question is this. Do you drink enough water each day? Do you have a perfectly balance diet? Do you take in enough vitamins and supplements? Do you pollute your brain with drugs. Unfortunately excess coffee and tea counts here too as well as alcohol, tobacco, and less legal substances?
We are not striving for sainthood here, but be honest. How do you rate on a scale of one to ten for keeping your mental pond well oxygenated and well fed?
I wandered aimlessly as a cloud…….
and fell off the cliff.
G stands for goals. Do you set goals for yourself or do you bumble along aimlessly not knowing precisely what you are aiming for or where you are heading.
In 1952 a class of graduating seniors at Harvard University were taught the detailed process of setting goals for their careers and for their private life. Twenty years later that same class were interviewed to establish whether goal-setting might have impacted their lives. It transpired that only three percent had actually set proper goals.
However, that same three percent appeared to be more emotionally well-balanced and happier than the others, which in itself would surely justify the need to set goals. What was truly astonishing was the fact that the same three percent were worth more financially than the other ninety-seven percent combined.
The temptation not to set goals is great for it avoids the risk of failure. It also means that you do not have to climb out of your comfort zone. But, without clear direction there is fog: mental fog.
On a scale of one to ten is the route map in your brain foggy or is it crystal clear?
Happiness is a thing called humour.
H stands for humour. There is a lovely expression that goes “when you have lost your senses off humour then you have lost everything. Laugher therapy is a growing industry. Why? Have we all become to serious in the aftermath of the `me’ years of the eighties?
Laughter also releases your brain’s natural opioids. As a matter of interest so do illegal drugs, but they also drastically upset the ecology in the mental pond life, which then needs replenishing. They are also a pollutant and probably have an irrevocable long term effect on your brains ecostructure.
And so, back to non-artificially induced laughter. Do you laugh enough? Do you maybe need to watch more comedy on TV or read more humorous books?
Do you have an agile sense of humour? Are you a happy soul or are you a misery guts?
Can you laugh at yourself? Is there enough humour in your life?
On a scale of one to ten rate your level of exposure to laughter and humour. That which you generate and that which you enjoy.
I stands for influence. Your ability to influence both others and yourself.
Are you the type of person who talks the talk or do you also walk your talk? Do you take action and influence others to take action or do you simply hope or wish for things to change.
Do you have control over your life or do you say “I can’t change what I am and who I am”.
Do you say things like “I don’t live in the right town”, “I am not clever enough”, “I wasn’t feeling very well”, “I didn’t have enough money”, “I am too young”, or “I am too old”. “I didn’t have the right upbringing”, “My parents did not support me”, “I couldn’t speak the language”, and so on.
Do you take responsibility for your life or do you blame others for your circumstances?
At the end of the day you are your own shop front as such. Are you satisfied with the interior and exterior make-up of your shop? Does it run smoothly? Does it influence others to come and see what you have got and then buy from you?
One things is for sure: if you have no influence over your own life then you will not have any influence over the lives of others for any sustained period of time. Eventually they will see through you.
How well do you influence yourself and others?
Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten.
J stands for junk, as in garbage. Junk thinking. We are getting back to the pond life thing here. If you put junk food into your body it is slowly but surely going to slow down, and become fat and diseased. If you put junk thoughts into your brain it too is going to slow down, get clogged up and become diseased. Not at ease with itself.
Remember the pond, and its intricate ecosystem. However well balanced it may be it will react violently to you pouring trash into it day in and day out. A lot of that trash and refuse will sink to the bottom and become embedded there and the rest will, over a period of time, form a layer on the surface, blocking out the light and starving the system of oxygen. The system will then gradually deteriorate and become dysfunctional.
The same thing happens with the brain. Junk thoughts gradually get embedded into the brain, and your brain re-adjusts as best it can to the situation. The junk on the surface prevents any good stimuli from getting in, and your brain starts to become a closed system, gradually rotting down and deteriorating.
Sorry. Just telling it the way it is. There is however a bright side. The stuff on the surface starts to gradually disappear if you don’t throw any more in and treat yourself to some good wholesome, positive and constructive thinking. After a while the sunshine and oxygen will once again penetrate the surface and re-stimulate the whole system into a totally new lease of life.
Of course this probably does not apply to you does it? You never tell yourself that you can’t do something do you? You never talk negatively to yourself do you? You are not carrying any refuse around are you such as anger, resentment or frustration?
Hopefully all of your self-talk is good, clean and wholesome. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten for junk thinking.
K stands for knowledge. “In time of profound change the learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with the world that no longer exists…”
Your level of knowledge will without question affect your level of self-worth, and your income.
If you spent one hour each day learning something new, either from a book or listening to an audio at home or in the car then you could become outstanding in your field after just two or three short years. After five years you could be classed as a leading expert in the nation, and after six to seven years one of the best in the world. Might that just give you an advantage toward achieving your goals and improve your self-esteem ? Might that just give you some job security, which also plays an important role in your mental fitness.
Studies have also shown that there is a direct correlation between your grammatical use of the English language, the number of words you know, and your earning power. Are your memory skills fine tuned enough to enable you to store and recall information quickly and accurately?
Basic memory skills are easy to learn and can have a significant affect on your general mental well-being, especially if you are forgetful.
Out of ten: how good is your general and specific knowledge and how good at remembering things are you?
L stands for love.
If ever there were an emotion or a set of thoughts that proved conclusively that the mind and body are one and the same and that the mind, or brain controls and influences the body, then it would be love.
When you are in love it generates a feeling of well-being that consumes your body and almost radiates onto others.
When love is in doubt or is taken away from you it can cause your whole being to go into temporary decline. The term broken heart is not just a euphemism, it is founded upon fact. Your central nervous system is run by your brain and can go way out of sync when there is a dominant thought process like losing or being rejected by someone you love.
Your brain controls all of your hormonal secretions as well as controlling muscular contraction and expansion. Sudden fear can cause your heart to start racing, because your brain commands your body to release Adrenalin, yet your brain can also release hormones that make you feel heavy hearted and unwell.
Yet the need to love and to be loved is strong in human beings. It is an emotional food that is necessary for most people’s survival. It needs to be present and it needs to be secure and balanced, for without it or where it is uncertain it can affect all of your other mental and physical functions.
Do you have someone who loves you, without conditions. Do you have someone who you love without conditions?
Is this aspect of your life fulfilled and in balance?
On a scale of one to ten.
M stands for motivation. It is the art and craft of getting yourself going and then keeping yourself going when the going gets tough.
To understand what motivation is it needs to be broken down into its component parts: motive and action. The definition of motivation is therefore the process of a motive being put into action. If you were stood in the middle of the road and a car was suddenly bearing down on you very rapidly your motive to take some evasive action would be fairly obvious, wouldn’t it?
When your stomach is rumbling you have a motive to eat. And when your mouth is dry you have a motive to drink. A reason to act.
When you have a plan or an idea do you always carry it through? When you ought to do a certain something, take a certain action do you always carry it out. Or do you sometimes find it hard to get going?
Do you sometimes find yourself doing just enough but not quite going the extra mile, unable to motivate yourself. They say that winners never quit, but quitters never win. Most people actually quit
when the going gets alittle tough. Highly motivated people remind themselves of their reason to keep going and draw the extra ten percent from that reason.
Would you describe yourself as highly motivated?
Do you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and stretch yourself a little or do you stop when you have done just about enough to be okay?
N stands for needs. Are your most basic of human needs being fulfilled? In other words is your basic survival under any threat. Is food, warmth and shelter a guarantee? Do you have someone who loves you unconditionally and whom you love the same?
If the answer is no to any of these questions then go straight to jail and do not pass go until you acquire a basic needs card. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow contended that only when your basic needs are satisfied can you address greater issues. He established a theory that human beings have a hierarchy of needs. At the bottom of the hierarchy is the most fundamental human need of all : the need to survive, which is governed by the oldest part of your evolutionary brain. Your second fundamental need is the need for security, and the third is the need for love and belonging. Maslow’s hierarchy continues on in a defined order, but I believe that we all have our own customised hierarchy thereafter. Interestingly though he lists self-actualization or the need to achieve some higher purpose as the ultimate need of human beings who have fulfilled all others.
Some other basic human needs are the need for self-esteem, the need for acceptance, the need to be appreciated, recognised and respected, the need to express ourselves totally to at least one person, the need for beauty, the need for truth, and the need to achieve greater material possessions.
Maslow’s theory is that all needs higher up in the hierarchy would always be sacrificed if one below were not to be fulfilled.
Are all of your basic needs being fulfilled? On a scale of one to ten
O stands for open-mindedness. A receptive mind is a fertile one. A closed mind is akin to that layer on top of the pond.
Do you take new ideas on board readily? Or is your thinking stinking? Are you rigid and set in your ways?
Would you make a good counsellor, as in therapist. Do people like to come and talk to you because you don’t pre-judge them, you don’t make judgements, and you help and encourage them to explore new possibilities.
P stands for purpose. Have you got one: a REASON TO BE, a raison d’etre.
Do you know what is truly important to you in your life?
Do you have something that really makes you tick? What makes you happy? What and who do you truly value? What things drive you with an absolute passion?
Dr Viktor Frankl was one of the few who survived the horrors, torment and degradation of Auschwitz. He came to the ultimate conclusion that the majority of those who survived had an unfulfilled purpose in life: something they simply had to achieve. Dying was not in their plan.
This purpose is what kept them going against all odds. He went on to pioneer a new therapy called logotherapy that is based around discovering ones purpose.
Most of the great leaders of the World had a strong purpose. Have you? Do you spring out of bed at the beginning of every day shouting WHOOPEEE- I am really excited about today, I know what I am here for and can’t wait to get on with it.
On a scale of one to ten are you really driven to achieve a certain something; even if it is being the best partner in the world or the best parent?
Q stands for quality : that buzz word of the nineties. Quality time, quality control, total quality management. Quality is a standard … but not neccessarily a high standard. It is simply the standard that has been set, and which will, hopefully, be achieved. The question here is: what standards do
you set for yourself. Do you even take time out to assess your own standards? It is an area that is so often overlooked by so many people yet it is such a worthy and personally fulfilling ideal. It seems somewhat farcical to be besotted with total quality management within a product or service industry whislt ignoring personal standards of quality.
Instead of assessing the way you dealt with a specific situation in terms of did you do it well, averagely or badly how about assessing it in terms of being a quality activity. I actually believe that adopting a frame of mind where the overall quality of what you do and what you say as your benchmark could lead to an exciting trail of personal growth and development.
It’s a different emphasis on the way you perceive yourself and a different attitude.
Take the A to Z itself and, instead of assessing your attitude as good or bad asess it in terms of quality. Do you have a good quality of attitiude? Do you have good quality beliefs? Are you a high quality communicator etcetera. Where many people are turned off by the concept of improving their
attitude, summarily dismissing it, they might more readily accept the concept of improving the quality of their thinking.
Is Personal Quality Management(PQM) a potential new buzz-word.
One of the pre-requisites of a balanced mind is that of fulfilling the needs and expectations of others. Just as you expect certain things of certain people so too do others expect of you. It is one of lifes trade-offs, a balance that has to be achieved. Yet so often people forget to fulfill the expectations of the most important people in their lives, their loved ones, their relatives and their children. So another question here is this. Do you spend quality time, and enough of it, with the people who matter most? Are you consistent in your dealings with others? Do all your actionsi illustrate the same commitment to quality? Are you equally courteous, considerate and thoughtful in your dealings with your boss, your child, and the man from whom you bought the “Big Issue” outside the station yesterday? Do you invariably make time for the people who need things from you? – Even if it’s
just to take the time to arrange another time to see them? That’s quality.
And that’s style. Do you have style?
Do you start your day with the intent to achieve quality. To be the best partner, parent, co-worker, … human you can be. Do you even have a committment towards quality? Coue, the French philosopher, once said “every day, in every way, I am getting better” I would like to interpret that as striving to do something with a little more style or quality every day.
Apply quality to your life, and see what happens!
The final question here is this. Do you actually know what qualities you possess and are you using those to the full? Major corporations are starting to regard the intellectual property of their staff as important. You almost certainly havehidden qualities that are not being used to the full.
Out of ten, is your life a benchmark of committment to quality. Quality of your own standards and quality of dealings with others?
R stands for relaxation. Recharging both the mental and physical batteries. You can not hammer the guts out of a car mile in and mile out without it eventually seizing solid and giving up the ghost on you. If however you treat it with some respect, change the oil, service it and allow it some rest periods then it will likely do you proud for many a year.
Your body and your brain are interdependent. They need looking after and servicing . They need rest periods too. Today, in the nineties, the incidence of nervous exhaustion is greater than at any other time in our history. This is happening mainly because people in general are trying to get a higher performance out of themselves and for a longer period of time. Yet they are not taking enough time to recharge their batteries. Even worse, people are now taking mobile phones on holiday with them:-permanently contactable.
Can you remember the last time that you spent some dedicated time simply relaxing?
Was the phone unplugged. Could anybody have interrupted you? Were you stretched out, perfectly centred and breathing gently from your stomach?
Do you get stressed out easily or often feel like you need a break. Do you indeed get away on holiday often enough or at least away fro the weekend?
How well do you relax?
How much relaxation time do you allow yourself? Out of ten.
S stands for self esteem. So how is your self-esteem? What do you think about yourself. Do you feel good about you. Are you totally self-confident about who and what you are? The vast majority of the population have a low self-esteem, self worth or self value in some area or other.
Of those remaining it is said that the majority are lying. Which are you?
Low self-esteem can and will affect virtually every aspect of your life, even your physical wellbeing. Some research even suggests that your immune system can be affected by low self-esteem.
On a straight forward level. If you project a low self-worth to others would you expect them to think highly of you. Possibly not. In fact they may well hold you in some disregard. What then happens is that you feel even worse about yourself, your self-esteem drops further, people think less of you and your self-esteem drops further and so it goes on in a never ending downward spiral.
If you don’t like you how can you possibly expect others to like you? Learn to like yourself and it will have an amazing effect upon all aspects of your life. Rate your self-esteem and how much you like yourself on a scale of one to ten.
T stands for time management. Yuk. Many people’s pet hate. Yet poor time management is normally synonymous with a cluttered, untidy, disorganised brain. It can also lead to all sorts of mental trauma and frustration. Yet time is one of the most important commodities you will ever possess and it is so important not to waste it.
If you waste just one hour per day, whilst at work, maybe in fruitless meetings or on phone calls that simply need not be made or gossiping with someone, then in a forty year career you will waste approximately 10,000 hours, That equates to 555 waking days of 18 hours each. A year and a half in round terms.
Both work and your social life need some sort of prioritising into those things that are urgent, those that are important and those that are needless.
They say that if you want a job doing then find a busy person to do it for you. Some busy people get things done simply because it is in their nature to do so, or it is expected of them. They often get stressed out or work ludicrous hours. Other busy people get even more done, yet leave the office at five o clock. They are the people who have managed their time well and got the urgent and important jobs out of the way. They also tend to be far less stressed. Which are you? Do you prioritise things? Do you get things done and have time to spare or are you always rushing to make the next appointment, or having to work late, or take work home with you. On a scale of one to ten?
U stands for unclutter your brain.
An untidy office is usually a sign of an inefficient, disorganised office.
An untidy brain is also usually a sign of an inefficient, disorganised brain.
Open files in the office are normally the same as those in your brain: unresolved issues. They gradually clog up and slow down the whole process of efficiency.
An efficient office has no clutter in it. Everything has its place and order and occasionally it is subjected to a spring clean.
Your brain also needs the occasional mental springcleaning. It needs issues resolving, files closing and neatly archived. It also needs the cobwebs clearing out.
One of the most common human traits is to become bogged down with open files, or past events. There is a quotation that says “a person with no future will always dwell upon their past” It is equally true to say that those who are bogged down dy their past will have trouble in the future.
Do you have many unresolved issues? Do you dwell on the past too much or are you focused upon the future? Are there any elements of your past that possibly hinder you? Fears, phobias, uncomfortable memories. Mental cobwebs as such.
Do you have any unhappy memories that still constantly play on your mind? An unhappy or uncomfortable event has to go through three distinct phases for it to become a file that can be closed. Firstly there is hurt, and it is considered important to experience hurt. Hurt is followed by anger, which may be short lived or linger. Finally comes acceptance.
Yet so many people live with hurt or anger as a permanent feature of their lives. Big open files that are always on the desk or in the drawer. Both of these emotions are believed to very damaging to both your mental and physical well-being.
Is your mental office clear or cluttered? Or are there past events that you really need to resolve and then file away?
On a scale of one to ten.
V stands for values. What is important to you as a human being. What makes you tick? What do you feel strongly about? What makes you happy? What and who do you truly value?. Do you know?
Both your beliefs and your values make up the very core of who you are and what you stand for. They are a kind of comfort zone within which you operate, within which all the information you take in is processed.
Yet many people do not really know what is truly important to them and in what order of priority they lie. Many people would say that they valued their families above all else, yet, quite amazingly push them to the bottom of the pile in favour of other things. Do you spend enough time with the people you truly value or doing the things you truly value.
Do your values sometimes trip you up? If your most important value in life was to be a great parent, to be there all of the time for your children, and to read them night-time stories in bed each night, then how would you feel about an exciting new job offer that meant a far higher income and an accelerated career path yet also committed you to weeks on end travelling and staying in hotels.
Values can therefore be saboteurs and can also cause considerable emotional unrest when they are in conflict with one another.
The main question is this: do you know what you truly value and do you spend enough time with the people who are important to you and doing the things that are really important to you?
On a scale of one to ten.
W stands for weather as in the great outdoors. Now you may well ask what does this have to do with mental fitness. So let me ask you if you have ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Do you know of anyone who tends to get a little depressed when the nights draw in early and it is dark in the morning when they wake up? Now internationally recognised as a genuine illness SAD is said to affect virtually everyone to some degree or other.
If you were locked up in a dark room all day long do you think it may affect your mental well-being? The fact is that the great outdoors has a huge amount to offer. Daylight positively stimulates a small gland in your brain called the pineal gland. The pineal gland is responsible for influencing many hormonal secretions, which in turn, eventually affect the way that your whole brain chemistry works and therefore the way that you feel. The more daylight you get the better you feel. The less daylight you get the worse you feel. It really is as simple as that, without going into complex bio-feedback circuit explanations.
Oxygen. By and large it is available in richer and purer quantities outdoors than it is indoors, given that the pollution levels are within acceptable levels.
If you starve you body of oxygen for long enough then you will go brain dead, although you might not necessarily physically die. By definition the human brain, your brain must therefore have oxygen to function. The formula is quite simple: the more you take in the better you function.
Do you get outdoors enough? Do you take enough outdoor exercise? Do you get enough sunlight? On a scale of one to ten.
X stands for x rated. As in naughty.
Striving for sainthood is for most people a recipe for mental illness. The fact is that most human beings have flaws, foibles, excesses, fetishes, unusual habits and even bad habits. They, you, have a need to indulge in those habits occasionally. A little bit of something naughty never did anyone any harm, as long as it does not seriously affect another person in an adverse way.
Yet so many people come away from having read their first self-help book or their first self-improvement seminar in the misguided belief that they should and MUST change every single one of their habits and thought processes overnight. When they then fail to live up to their newfound expectations they start mentally punishing themselves and a whole new regime of destructive self-talk begins. When they do something that is not in keeping with the new doctrine the same happens.
It’s a case of finding a little balance somewhere along the way. There’s a lovely expression that I once heard: everything in moderation, even moderation.
If you suppress things that you really enjoy then it has the same effect as suppressing anger or other such feelings. You have to let it out now and again, as long as it is not harming others and as long as you do not do it to excess.
Do you remember this expression: all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy indeed. The same is true of Jill.
On a scale of one to ten, how often do you let your hair down and do something that you really enjoy, that’s maybe a little naughty, without feeling guilty for doing it?
Y stands for youth. Don’t ever lose it. When you lose your youth you become old. Often old and miserable. There is of course a certain inevitability about the physical ageing process. However, your mental ageing process is down to you. That may be difficult to swallow when, from a very early age you were probably constantly taught to GROW UP.
It is a trifle sad that our childhoods are so short lived anyway. But being told as teenagers that you should be more mature or that you should behave like an adult….
Can you remember being young and carefree, charging around like an idiot, enjoying simple games, enthusiastic about life, and without fear of embarrassment?
I took my son to an adventure park once and a friend came with me with his kids. When we got to the top of the queue for a particularly hairy ride he suggested that we have a practice scream. So, both the adults and the kids screamed at the top of our voices as if we were just coming down the frightening bit. It felt great, and everyone in the queue laughed. Especially the other kids.
Remember Tom Hanks in the film BIG. Hire the film if you have not seen it. It’s all about being a big kid.
If you have kids they will just love it if you can remember what it was like to be a kid and spend some time just being a kid with them: charging around the lawn like an aeroplane, flicking rubber bands, making a model or playing a board game: acting like a kid.
I have a belief that everyone deep down is still a child, and that it is important to let the child inside come out and play now and again. It is a wonderfully freeing experience that can only be good for your happiness.
How often do you let the child inside you come out to play, or are you wrapped up in the serious side of life and career. Out of ten?
And finally Z stands for Z’s. Sleep. The body cannot survive or function correctly without it. More correctly, your brain cannot function correctly without it. Remember, it is your brain that controls your body.
If you were to have just two hours sleep every night for a week how do you think you might feel about your ability to drive a car on the eighth day. How effectively could you operate a machine or analyse some figures or deal with a tricky situation at home or at work?
If you were to have eight hours of disturbed or constantly interrupted sleep do you think you would perform much better?
The fact is that although everyone seems to need different amounts of sleep it is the quality of that sleep that is more important. Eight hours of sleep assisted by alcohol is believed to be far less beneficial than six with no inducement. Too much sleep is also proven to be bad for you.
How do you feel in the morning after you have had your night’s sleep. That’s the benchmark. Do you open your eyes, leap out of bed, throw the curtains open and shout “hello world here I am again and I am coming to get you and enjoy you” or do you open your eyes groggily and think “oh shoot”. Do you often just want to roll over and bury your head under the pillow for another few hours?
Now here is a thought for you. People with a strong purpose in life seem to need far less sleep than those who are drifting along at the mercy of someone elses purpose. The majority of the great leaders of our time have gone through their lives with half the amount of sleep that most people seem to need.
On Xmas morning, when you were a child, I bet you had no problem bounding out of bed. You had a real reason to get up didn’t you?
If now, today, tomorrow morning and every day after that, you had a strong reason to get up: a reason that truly drove you and excited you, do you think you might need a little less sleep? If you were fully mentally fit, from A through to X, and you were to perceive life as a massively exciting opportunity do you think you might need a little less sleep and feel a whole lot better about getting up in the morning.
Getting up one hour earlier in the morning, going for a walk in the fresh air, collecting your thoughts for the day, spending a little quality time with your family, and making you way to work without any stress and without having to eat your breakfast on the fly will do wonders for your overall mental fitness, which, in turn will mean that you only need that amount of sleep.
Do you get quality sleep? Do you wake up and bound out of bed every morning full of the joys of spring? Do you have something that really makes you want to get up or is it something that you simply have to get up for? Out of ten..
So, now you have an overall score to measure your level of mental fitness. The maximum you could have is 260. So, to work out your percentage level of mental fitness simply divide your score by 260 and move the decimal point, in your head of course!
If you want a very rough guide then take your score of say 185 and knock off the last figure to make 18. Then times it by four to make 72%.
There is of course, no right or wrong here. It is a self-assessment test for you to take stock and make your own judgement.
If you undertook a similar physical fitness test with your doctor, including heart, lung, liver and kidney function and the test also included eating habits and other general lifestyle habits and you scored less than 50% then you would be warned to change your lifestyle dramatically.
With physical habits and pysical fitness it is, in principle, easy to make a change. Although in reality sometimes not. With mental habits and fitness it is, in principle, the same. Change your thinking and you will change your life. Yet it’s all easier said than done though isn’t it. And, unlike the teachings and preaching of many a success guru there is no overnight panacea.
There is no overnight cure to obesity and you will not become physically fit by going for one two-mile jog, just as an Olympic sprinter will not win medals by simply jogging. It takes time, effort, practise, commitment, attitude, belief….It is just the same with mental fitness………..
So, the final question is this. Can you imagine the benefits of clearing out some mental junk and feeding yourself on a diet of constructive, wholesome thinking? Or is life just great the way it is?
One thing is for sure: If you keep on thinking the same way that you have always done then you are definitely going to keep getting the things that you have always got.
The definition of insanity is doing the same things day in and day out yet expecting different results.
If you have an unfit, and unhealthy body and expect to change it and become fit without diet and exercise then you are in troubled water.
If you have an unfit and unhealthy mind then you primarily need to change your diet of thoughts and you need to exercise your brain.
In the forthcoming series of the A to Z of Mental fitness we shall look at each individual component of mental fitness from A through to Z and show you practical ways to exercise your brain and improve your overall level of mental fitness.
A stands for attitude. B stands for belief. C stands for communication. D stands for decisions. E stands for your environment
F stands for food. G stands for goals.H stands for humour
I stands for influenceJ stands for junkK stands for knowledge L stands for love.M stands for motivation. N stands for needs.O stands for open‑mindedness.P stands for purpose.Q stands for quality timeR stands for relaxation.
S stands for self esteem.T stands for time management. U stands for unclutter your mind. V stands for values stands for weatherX stands for x rated.Y stands for youth. stands for Z’s. Sleep.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is an illness characterized by two components: extreme highs and extreme lows. It is a disease that can incapacitate a person’s life, leaving them with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. This disorder has become a household term, now affecting 5.7 million Americans. The cause is not completely understood, but it is thought that lack of proper nutrition may play a part in the growing number of people suffering from this condition. Therefore, supplying the body with the proper nutrients and supplements may provide important help in correcting this disorder.
Although we all experience ups and downs due to everyday stress, they are nothing compared to the ups and downs that a person with a bipolar disorder experiences. The “ups” is called the manic phase where the person experiences almost a wild ecstasy, sometimes causing them to behave irresponsibly while taking serious risks. Those undergoing the manic phase of the disease may experience a feeling of elation, coupled with over-inflated self-esteem. This is a time where they think that the world is at their feet and that nothing is impossible. Other symptoms consist of irritability, decreased need for sleep, rapid speech, increased libido, delusions, and the inability to focus on a specific task.
The other side of the coin, the depressive phase, eventually surfaces. During this phase, the person can experience the deepest pit of depression. The depressive phase presents itself with loss of energy, sadness, loss of interest in activities, significant changes in appetite, difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts.
These highs and lows can range from mild to extreme. They may come on slowly over a period of time, or they can surface within a matter of hours. A bipolar disorder can cause behavior extreme enough that it may be impossible to function in society. It affects family, work, and social relationships. As a likely result of the depression and extreme mood swings, as many as one in five people with bipolar disorder commit suicide.
The cause of a bipolar disorder is thought to be both physical and emotional. Some studies suggest that high or low levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine are among the chief causes. Another cause could be imbalanced hormones and stress triggers are thought to be a third cause.
In addressing a bipolar disorder, just as with any other health condition, diet is crucial. It is important to give the body the proper nutrients it needs. Oftentimes, poor nutrition is at least partly responsible for an impending condition. It is thought that the decreasing amounts of vitamins and minerals in our food supply and the SADs diet is responsible for the increasing numbers of people diagnosed as bipolar.
Removing unhealthy foods and stimulants that can aggravate symptoms should be a priority. Sugar, fatty foods, and caffeine are all irritants which contribute to manic episodes. On the other hand, alcohol, a depressant in its own right, will contribute to the depressive episodes. Removing these harmful ingredients from one’s diet may improve, if not eliminate, these symptoms. THERE IS ALSO ONE OTHER MAJOR THING THAT YOU CAN DO. It is all to do with the Ph of your body and I am going to cover this in a separate article of my own.
Earth – but not quite how we know it or pretend it to be.
Hi, my name is Russell Webster and today I would like to share something with you. Like so many other people in the world I have been hiding something from those who know me and those who I have met along my travels. Now, I have simply reached a stage in my life where putting on a pretence is simply NOT working all the time any more. Time for some honesty.
They say that approximately one third of the population are, to some degree or other gay. Well, I am here to tell you that is not what I am coming out of the closet about. This is not my secret. Not that it would matter anyway.
No, it is something completely different.
What a lot of people don’t know is that, at any one time, one in three people are suffering from some kind of Mental Illness. That ranges from the severe, where hospitalisation is needed, to the less severe such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, HSP (highly sensitive person) disorder and a whole raft of other personality disorders and then there is bi-polar disorder. It was once referred to as manic depression, which had a totally unfair connotation.
And this is where I come out of the closet and finally admit that I suffer from bi-polar disorder and have done since my early twenties. For those of you who have never really heard of bi-polar it can sound a bit spooky so let me try and simplify it. As it sounds, it is like the two poles – the high pole in the north and the low pole in south. They are some apart some 12,416 miles as the crow flies and about 7900 straight through the middle of the earth.. Most importantly they are opposites. Call them high and low. Now, where it takes an age to travel from the high pole to the low pole, with bi-polar sufferers they can swing from a high mood to a low mood, sometimes in seconds even. When someone with bi-polar is on a high they feel that they can conquer the world but when they are on a low they can become almost unable to even crawl out of bed. Many feel suicidal when they in a severe down phase of bi-polar.
It is a condition that is both a curse and a blessing. Some people even refer to bi-polar as the genius disease. Here are a few famous people who suffered or suffer from this – Sir Winston Churchill, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Abraham Lincoln. Robbie Williams, Russell Brand, Frank Bruno, Richard Dreyfus, Ray Davies, Mel Gibson, Ernest Hemingway, Florence Nightingale, Sinead O’Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Nina Simone, Virginia Woolf, Brian Wilson, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, Axl Rose and Brian Wilson. Then there is the inimitable, most talented, most extraordinary of bi-polar sufferers of current times, the erudite and wildean Stephen Fry.
I could go on and I think it might shock you.
Now, here is the rub. The saying goes that there is a fine line between genius and madness. Never was this truer when it comes to bi-polar sufferers.
Being bi-polar can be very difficult to live with in more ways than one because living with someone who is bi-polar must be equally as hard, especially if it goes undiagnosed. The same applies to many other conditions that I have written about in my recently published book – Snafu (that’s S N A F U). You have to know what you have before you can treat it. Bi-polar can be treated naturally as well as with medication but it takes huge willpower and discipline. The most important thing you can do, in my opinion, not just for b—polar and any depression related illness, but for your overall bodily health, is to give your body and brain chemicals a fighting chance by alkalising your system and drinking a lot more of the right type of water. Yes, water – alkaline water.
The second most important thing you can do is admit it – to yourself and to those close to you. That applies to a lot of things. It is better out there in the open than bottled up inside.
I will be blogging and audio blogging quite a bit in the future and covering a wide range of issues that affect people’s lives. Just sign up on my facebook page or at russellwebster.net. The main emphasis will always be on mental health and mental wealth. I am a great believer that you are not stuck with who you are.
The distance between the North Pole and the South Pole “as the crow flies” is around 20,014 kilometres, or 12,416 miles.
If it was possible to travel directly through the earth, it would be 12,800km or 7900 miles.