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Plastic Brains?

Did you know that your brain is plastic? No, seriously! One of the coolest things about our brains is what’s known as plasticity. Just like plastic, our brains are easily shaped and moldable. Our brains can do new things and make new neuro-connections all throughout our lives. Plasticity is how that works, and you can use that feature of your brain to live with more joy, peace of mind, and enhance your mental well-being. I help clients shape and strengthen their pliable brain using practices that boost mental fitness.

But you can’t do it right away - mental fitness takes time. And it takes repetition. Just like trying to build physical muscles, our brains need repetition and concentrated effort to forge those new neuro-connections and to grow and develop.

Think about it this way - Have you ever tried to start meditating? If you’re anything like most of us, you turned on a great mediation app or YouTube video, settled in on your yoga mat, closed your eyes, and promptly started thinking about everything on your to-do list, the funny thing your kid said before they left for school in the morning, whether you wanted salad or pasta for dinner (always go with the pasta), and before you knew it, your meditation timer was going off and you were no more relaxed than you had been before you started.

Look – that’s ok! If you got one good minute of meditation in, that’s great! Tomorrow you can try for a minute and a half. In order to build up your mental fitness, you need to practice! Just like everything else you want to learn or train yourself to do, you need to do it over and over again. You need to train your brain, just like you train your biceps.

The more you do this, the more you put in the work to focus on your mental fitness, the bigger the gains you’ll see, because the benefits of mental fitness compound over time.

Most of us will need some help to do this, and that’s ok. Tell your partner that you’re going to meditate, and you’d appreciate it if they could keep an eye on the kids for 10 minutes. Close your blinds so your dogs don’t see the UPS driver approaching and go nuts barking. Turn off the TV and Spotify. Or use your Spotify to find a meditation soundtrack or just some white noise. Dial in. Focus on what you’re doing. Then do it again tomorrow.

Of course, mental fitness isn’t strictly about meditation and being stress-free. Mental Fitness improves your performance, your relationships, and your overall ability to navigate life with higher levels of joy and fulfillment. Your emotional health is part of mental fitness as well. Those who boost their mental fitness have sustained improvements in:

· Using emotional energy more effectively

· Self-Confidence

· Communication with loved ones

· Teamwork and collaboration

· Happiness

· Conflict management

When you practice mental fitness, you simply have the tools to handle life’s challenges with a more positive mindset that supports you in every interaction with everyone in your life, from your spouse or partner to your boss, to your employees, to the barista at your favorite coffee shop or the jerk who cuts you off on the highway. This is called PQ (Positive Intelligence) and unlike your IQ, which is pretty well set early in life, you can absolutely improve your PQ. But like everything else you’d like to build up or improve, it takes time, it takes effort, and it takes repetition.

PQ, created by Shirzad Chamine, is the author of the New York Times bestselling Positive Intelligence. Shirzad has lectured on Positive Intelligence at Stanford University and has trained faculty at Stanford and Yale business schools.

Nancy Kalsow has trained under Shirzad and supports her clients in learning tools and techniques to overcome obstacles and help rewire the brain in more efficient ways. To learn more, check out Nancy’s coaching package: Be Positively YOU will boost your mental fitness.


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