Mental Fitness: Transforming Minds, A Personal Trainer's Guide

Mental Fitness: Transforming Minds, A Personal Trainer's Guide

by Charles T. Robinson Jr.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452085418
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 02/11/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 381 KB

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Mental Fitness

Transforming Minds, A Personal Trainer's Guide
By Charles T. Robinson Jr.

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2011 Charles T Robinson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4520-8539-5


Chapter One

Station 1— The Warm-Up: Take a Lap with Me

"Every great performance requires intense warm-up."

In grade school, we all took physical education. The instructor of the hour would blow his or her shiny, polished whistle and command, "All right, take a lap!" and we would say, "Aww man!" to ourselves, take a deep breath, and exhale forcefully. Most of us didn't like to take warm-up laps, but maybe you were the person who enjoyed every moment of gym class and couldn't get enough. Whichever person you may have been, the idea is that we all had an attitude toward warm-ups.

The warm-up readies the body for strenuous and physical activity by increasing the core temperature of the body, as well as increasing blood flow. These occurrences prepare the body for optimal performance. Without the warm-up, the body is hindered from performing well. This is also very true for the mind. If we don't warm-up before mental activity, such as creative thinking, we may just pull a neuron. This is completely a joke, but to have an appreciation for limbering up the mind, we have to understand the strenuous activity of creative thinking.

Some people feel differently about what creative thinking is. My idea of creative thinking is simply a series of definitions beginning with the word create. Webster's New Explorer Dictionary defines create the following way: "to bring into being, make, or produce." Combined with this definition is the definition for thinking, which is "to form or have in the mind, to reflect on or ponder, or to form mental pictures." By combining these two definitions we come to the explanation of creative thinking. Creative thinking is described as forming mental pictures in the mind by way of reflecting and pondering, which produces, makes, and brings ideas into being.

One great example of creative thinking can be found in the inventor, Walt Disney. Walt Disney's idea for his famous theme park, Disneyland, was birthed by watching his daughters play at a small amusement park. While there he noticed how worn out and filthy the small amusement park was. He also saw that from a distance the park seemed very interactive, but as he approached closer he saw that it was the furthest from the truth. Thus, he began to ponder and reflect on what it would be like to have an interactive and clean amusement park. From using his mind to reflect and ponder on how to make a better amusement park, he produced and brought into being a new idea that many people still enjoy years later.

Like Walt Disney, my typical warm-up in support of preparing my intellect, is the act of reflection and pondering. At every level of competition, the warm-up is very important, whether it's physical activity or mental activity. Singers warm up their voices before a performance; those in the orchestra tune their instruments and go over their musical scales, and actors and actresses warm up by rehearsing lines one last time. No matter the activity, if optimum performance is what you're looking for, a warm-up is what you need.

After graduating from college, where I was also an athlete, I began to take a closer look at the intricacies of and correlations between sports, physical activity, and life. Understanding that the mind can be trained and enhanced is vital to learning how to warm it up, which we must do if we want it to perform well. The warm-up is the process of familiarizing ourselves with a person, idea, thought, or thing. You can probably think of a time when you needed your mind to work at its best, but somehow, it seemed like it wouldn't. Can you remember such a time?

I can give you one of my moments, which involves this book. One night, I sat down to start the writing process. It was twelve o'clock in the morning, and I felt I had ideas as I sat in front of my laptop, but somehow, they didn't find their way onto the screen. My mistake was that I tried to jump right into the writing and thinking process without a proper warm-up, and that is a no-no.

I struggled for the first few minutes, and since I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, I noticed myself constantly hitting the backspace bar. All of that time wasted when I could've warmed up to get my juices flowing! I tried to get my mind to do something that it wasn't ready to do, and that was to think creatively. I had been mentally unconstructive all day, and then I expected my mind to produce optimal results from little preparation—not to mention how late it already was.

Just like I did, most of us want to skip the warm-up and get right to producing results. So how could I have done this differently and warmed up before I started the creative thinking process? Just as Walt Disney pondered and reflected on how to make a better amusement park, I could have pondered on the ideas that I wanted to convey, and reflected on what those ideas meant to me and my message. Thus, doing so, my mind would warm-up to think creatively. By using my mind to ponder and reflect on current concepts and ideas, as Walt Disney had also done, I was able to gather an eclectic array of ideas, which usually lead to new ideas.

You may be saying, "Wow, dude! Haven't heard that one before. Where is the magic wand? I want to know how to make something appear from thin air." Sorry to tell you, folks, but there is no magic wand. There is no secret formula to getting your mind into a state of readiness to come up with great ideas. Through my studies, I've found this to be accurate. However, I will disclose to you this one secret. All of the great thinkers and innovators, believe it or not, have received inspiration from one another to embellish old ideas, and possibly form new ideas.

From reading other people's bright ideas and reflecting upon them further, great thinkers were able to come up with even greater ideas. All the greats do it; they've just been able to keep a tight lip about where they get their inspiration. In our society, we've become complacent, and some of us either refuse, don't know how, or feel that we don't have enough time to think creatively or constructively. We become bogged down with television and the Internet and forget that any one of us could be the person with the next great idea. Great ideas come about by great thinking, and great thinking only comes with a desire to capture the great thoughts of others.

The mind is a wonderful thing. The great discovery, which we've known about for thousands of years, states that whatever we think about the most, we become. This is clearly why the Bible says to think on these things: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." By thinking on great thoughts, we become a conduit for great thoughts. This is because we've warmed up, loosened up, and limbered up our minds for such thoughts.

Your intellect has to brood over (sitting or focusing on an idea keeps it warm and of primary importance, which allows it to mature until it's ready to hatch into a new idea) the intellect and thoughts of other great thinkers if you have a desire to birth great thoughts of your own. Meaning, you really have to take a concentrated effort to think on the great thoughts of others. So ask yourself this question: "To what do I give my attention the most?" This is important to discover, because we may be warming up to unconstructive thoughts without realizing it. These thoughts that are unconstructive will lead you to the development of your own unconstructive thoughts.

An example of this can be seen in the workplace. Have you worked with someone who does a minimal amount of work, but still gets paid the same amount as you at the end of the week? You're a hard worker and come to the realization that you're doing twice as much as they are, and receiving the same amount of money for it. So you begin to entertain this thought in your mind: Why should I continue to work hard when, they don't, and we get paid the same amount each week? By focusing your attention on this thought, you slowly transform into a slacker just like the person in question.

There is no escaping this law. Unconstructive thinking hinders most people and, because of this law, many people become what they don't want to become, and in this case that is unconstructive. This is why great thinking has become a lost art. Seldom do we constructively think on the thoughts of other great thinkers, which make reading of top importance in warming up the intellect. Someone may ask, "Why is reading so important?" Surely, reading helps us loosely understand the thought processes of an author. For example, if I would like to understand Dale Carnegie, the pioneer of self-help, I would read Dale Carnegie's books. But reading for mere entertainment is not enough. This is where we begin to really warm up. The following are questions to ponder while reading:

What's the focus of this book?

What am I looking to receive?

What have I received so far?

How can I make this information applicable to my life?

What similar thoughts do I have that can be enhanced by having read this material?

What causes this author to have this perspective?

I call it the art of studying great minds, which is better known as studying the psychology of great thinkers, and you don't need a doctor's degree to do it. Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be more successful than others? It's not because they were born that way— even though intelligence can lie in genetics, but even then someone can be very knowledgeable and have no wisdom. Successful people seek and crave wisdom, and they find it from people who have acted wisely in their lifetimes. So the term warm-up here can be used in the context of warming yourself up or familiarizing yourself with other individuals' thoughts, as in the phrase, "Yeah, they're beginning to warm up to me," meaning building a relationship and becoming familiar with that person.

Warming Up to the Thoughts of Others

Here is an example to help you better understand this point. In the time period of an infant's development in which they begin to notice that they can possibly talk, they usually stare directly at the mouth of the person doing the talking. As they stare, you can see their little lips moving in the same way as those of the older person. They are shaping their lips to produce the same sounds as they are hearing. "Say, Da-Da." Adults try to accentuate every syllable, so that the baby can follow along. We can take a lesson from the little ones here, because this is how we warm up our minds to think great thoughts. We pay close attention to how the great thinkers thought. We stare right into their minds and try to figure out exactly what they were saying and thinking.

We shape our minds to theirs as we try to understand and comprehend, just as babies shape their mouths as they try to speak. We see that children learn to speak from an adult, but as the children grow, they develop their own way of speaking and conveying ideas. The adult was just the launching pad or the warm-up. The process is the same for us; by reading and thinking, or at least trying to think like successful people, we use their thoughts as a launching pad. Eventually, we develop our own awesome thoughts and ways of expressing ourselves.

During the process of writing this book, I developed the habit of reading a chapter or two of another book written by an author whose material I enjoyed. By reading the material of this author, I began to warm myself up to write my book (though still not nearly as good a writer as this author). Now, allow me to clarify. This was done in no way to steal or duplicate this author's ideas. The premise was to have this author's grammatical structure and word usage fresh in memory so that I could at least write a reader-friendly book. Knowing that this author writes reader-friendly and captivating books, I decided to use the style as a launching pad, although I still placed my own touch in my writings.

For two years while in college, I was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, also known as FCA. I did fairly well, but I wasn't truly pleased with my performance as a speaker. One day, I asked our spiritual coach, who has a successful church, "Have you always been a good speaker?"

He shook his head and said emphatically, "Oh no, not at all." What he told me changed my perception of all great thinkers, speakers, and leaders. He said his whole life he had been an introvert, much like me, but what he learned was this one technique that I'll sum up in five words: what you read, you speak.

I began the process of reading as many books as I could to develop this trait and have become quite fond of it. Since you're reading this book, I'm sure you don't have a problem with reading, so encourage others to read as well. For the person who says, "Well, my job doesn't require me to do all of that reading. How can it help me in my life?" my response to that is that reading can help improve your awareness. It can also make you a better all-around person. Being informed will help you make wise decisions.

There's always something that we can learn from reading that will not only improve our lives but those of others as well, as we may be able to inform them wisely by our newfound knowledge. Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, is known to all as a great thinker, which would also mean that he was a great reader. If this is the case, there should be no wonder about how he authored one of the single greatest documents of all time: the Declaration of Independence. We have to realize that his thoughts didn't fall out of thin air. He read the writings of such people as John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Francis Bacon and constantly read the classic writings of Tacitus.

He modeled his life after the Roman philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Of course, he learned about the life of Cicero by reading. So the secret behind great ideas is to figuratively eat great ideas—of course in the mental concept of eating. Not to sound ghastly, but if you put enough books down the ole mind belly, something is bound to come back up. So, is reading about the lives and ideas of other successful people enough? It's a good start, but to really warm up for maximum benefit, your next step is to think by reflection and pondering.

We're Warmed Up

Ponder what you've read by thinking about how it relates to your life or world or about what you could draw from and connect to other ideas that you've read. Mingling two or more ideas, related or unrelated, may birth something new. Just as Walt Disney took his experience as an animator and combined that with his ideas on an ideal amusement park.

Presenting ourselves with quality questions assists in the enhancement of our reflecting. In John Maxwell's book, Thinking for a Change, he points out this one activity, which I associate with warming up the mind. He states, "The value you receive from reflecting will depend on the kinds of questions you ask yourself." Many times, I've read something weeks earlier, and while reading something new, I have had an epiphany or new idea. The interesting thing about questioning and reflecting is that it's something we do every morning when brushing our teeth. (I hope we all do this every morning.)

Most bathrooms have a mirror above the sink where we have a clear view of our reflection. We cast our image in the mirror, and by doing so, we can see things that we otherwise may have missed. How embarrassing is it when we miss something because we forget to question or consult our reflection before going out? I hope you see the point here, and that is to understand that the importance of questions and reflection is to help us see things that otherwise may be difficult to see. Reflecting will also help us see things that we have missed. How does reflecting work?

180 Degrees of Order and Equality

Now that we're warm, allow me to show you how warming up can place you in the flow of acquiring new ideas or perspectives, by borrowing from my own experiences. One day, I was brushing up (warming up) on geometry—it's important to note that earlier in the week, I had been reading something about the pyramid structure of hierarchy. We know that a pyramid on paper is really a triangle because it is two-dimensional, but something struck me as I was studying geometry. I remembered that every triangle has a total of 180 degrees! You may be thinking, "So what's your point?" Well, the point in this case is that in any isosceles triangle, which is the makeup of any hierarchical diagram, each angle is approximate to 60 degree and three angles total 180 degrees.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Mental Fitness by Charles T. Robinson Jr. Copyright © 2011 by Charles T Robinson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................ix
Abbreviations....................xi
Preface....................xiii
Part 1: Exercise Stations....................1
Station 1—The Warm-Up: Take a Lap with Me....................3
Station 2—Stretching the Mind: Full Range of (E) Motion....................17
Station 3—Mind Composition: Pull Out the Measuring Tape and Mind-Fold Caliper....................35
Station 4—Losing Weight: Step on My Mental Scale....................53
Station 5—Mental Strength: Bench-Press Your Problems....................69
Station 6—Mental Endurance: Breathe Inspiration to Sustain Life and Health....................79
Part 2 How to Get to Your Destiny....................103
Station 7—Arriving at Your Destination....................105
Station 8—Preparation for Success....................109
Station 9—Determination and Persistence....................123
Station 10—Progress....................137
Station 11—Being a Good Steward....................155
Station 12—Living....................163
(Endnotes)....................183

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