Do you have flabby attitudinal muscles?
Wait! Don’t go to Google on this one. Attitudinal muscles aren’t some hidden part of your anatomy. They’re not connected to your glutes or hidden somewhere beneath your rhomboids.
Your attitudinal muscles are exactly where they sound like they’d be: in your mind. And they’re exactly what they sound like: your attitudinal muscles control your attitude. It’s a bit of a silly phrase, right? Attitudinal muscles. I first heard Marianne Williamson say “We have flabby attitudinal muscles” and I thought, “Oh, Marianne. Do you even lift?” (I know: bad Lisbeth! Leave MW and her yoga alone!)
But, here’s the thing: she’s right about those attitudinal muscles. We work on getting stronger in the gym, but we also need to work on getting stronger in the mind. And, just like how you can’t out-train a crappy diet, you can’t expect to have a great attitude if you’re mentally eating crap.
“But, Lisbeth, we have the INTERNET! One of the greatest and most fun distraction forces in recent memory! And social media is like alcohol without the expense and the hangover!”
I know. I’m addicted too. I love the internet. But I think it’s important that in order to strengthen our attitudinal muscles, we consider what we’re putting in our heads. Focus on our mental nutrition, specifically look at what we are consuming via print, media, our family, our friends, etc.
Mental nutrition is so important, especially in this U.S. election year. The volume of our lives is turned to 10, and many people and organizations are vying for our attention. We may find ourselves getting a little more cranky or fearful or irritated, and we’re not really sure why. We snap at people on social media (or worse, at our families) and we don’t feel any better. We feel worse.
What to do?
Be mindful. Think about your mental nutrition, and exercise your attitudinal muscles. Get your head in a different space so that you can concentrate on the things that matter to you. And one of those things that really helps you take care of the other people in your life is you taking care of yourself first. (It’s not selfish! It’s survival. Put your oxygen mask on first, then help the others.)
So, let’s start here in our quest to strengthen our attitudinal muscles:
1.) Get Moving!
Go to the gym. Go outside. Run around your backyard like a crazy person or a 5-year-old. Do something. Put down the phone and get your body in gear.
Exercise will help adjust your mind better than anything else you can do, including drinking and eating. The simple act of moving your body will help you to regulate your mind, your temper, your anxiety, etc. Movement won’t solve everything, but it will COMPLEMENT everything. Think of movement like a flavor enhancer or a bit of a magic wand. It won’t give you a million dollars, but it will make that $10 in your hand look a lot better.
2.) Swing Your Laser Sights on Your Nutrition!
Your mind is fueled by your body, and your body is fueled by what you eat. This is all connected, so swing your attention onto what you’re eating. You don’t have to get crazy, but you will benefit from being dedicated to your nutritional plan. I know how it is, and if you’re like me, sometimes it seems like SUCH A PAIN to enter your meals in My Fitness Pal. And that’s silly, right? It’s an app on your phone and it’s going to take you about a minute to enter that meal. Less if you eat the same meals a lot. We can do this. I will if you will. Let’s keep each other focused!
3) Play More!
Make your training into play, if you can. See and feel the joy in movement. But, one way or another, make sure you have some play in your life.
Recently, I had a friend wonder what she knew at 8 years old that she didn’t know now. I told her that 8-year-old girl knew the importance of play. As adults, we get so serious and forget that play is where our heart lives and breathes and laughs.
Like the very wise Dr. George Sheehan once wrote: “Sport is not a test but a therapy; not a trial but a reward; not a question but an answer … The first and most basic commandment for health and longevity is the following: Pursue your own perfection … I am ready to start a new religion, the first law of which is, ‘Play regularly.’ An hour’s play a day makes a man whole and healthy and long-lived.”
4) Read Something Good!
Read something worthwhile in the morning when you wake up, before you go to bed, and/or when you have a spare moment. It can be a chapter in a book or a line in a magazine or a quote on Instagram. Just make sure it’s something healthy and positive for you. Something that motivates or inspires you. Something that stirs your soul to say “Yeah!” Or “Wow!” Or “Awwww.” Or “HAHAHA!” There’s enough Debbie Downer stuff that will be shoved at you on social media or the television or even those stupid little tvs on gas pumps (I hate those!). You don’t get to choose your intrusions. So when you do get to choose, choose well!
5) Take a Social Media Holiday!
I’m not kidding. A social media sabbatical. I’m a Facebook queen but even I step away during the day and about one day in every week. If I didn’t, believe me, I’d be throwing more punches.
Social media is both a marvelous invention of our time and a horrid monster if you let it be. I’ve worked in social media since 2008, and I’d have lost my mind if I didn’t enjoy SM holidays. Take it from a pro: walk away sometimes. Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and SnapChat and everything else will all still be there when you return. And here’s the good thing: they’ll be more fun when you return because YOU will be more fun! Try it!
This list isn’t the be-all of surviving life, but it’s a good reminder of some basic steps that can help us to feel less frustrated with our world and more focused on our goals. You can’t see your attitudinal muscles in the mirror but they affect everything you do. Strengthen them, and watch as your life improves!
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