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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Managing Your Mind: Two Principles Underlying Mental Fitness


We are back for part two of our Managing Your Mind tips. Authors Gillian Butler, Ph. D., and Tony Hope, M.D., have graciously let us excerpt some helpful hints from their new guide. Be sure to read last week’s tips on work and check back next work for some more helpful hints.

Valuing yourself

Marc was a chef. He ran a successful restaurant but had one ambition: that he and his restaurant should be recommended in the Good Food Guide. He believed that he was not good enough for even a passing mention. Like so many people, he was riddled with self-doubt. Then, one day, the great honor came, and his excellence was recognized with a wonderful review. But he did not feel happy. He had wanted this honor all his working life and now when he attained it he felt wretched and miserable. Why? Because, instead of valuing himself more as a result of this achievement, he valued the opinion of the Good Food Guide less. His reasoning went something like this: there can’t be much to being in the Good Food Guide if they include the likes of me! If you do not value yourself independently of your achievements, you will not value your achievements.

Chapter 3, page 15

Recognising that you can change

Three conditions for fruitful change
  1. Understand the present: Choices about change can only be made in the present. That means that it is important above all to accept where you are now. The first condition, therefore, for fruitful change is that you see clearly where you are at the moment. Do not hide away from present reality. If there are aspects of the present you do not like, you can start to plan how to change: but if you pretend these aspects do not exist, you will never change them. The potential for changing the future can lie only in the present.
  2. Step lightly from the past: “If only things had been different.” “I wish I hadn’t said that.” It is understandable to feel dismayed by the mistakes and concerns of yesterday, but it is a mistake to allow the past to become a prison. The past can no longer be changed, so the second condition for fruitful change is to step lightly from the past. The past is an information bank from which you can learn; it is not a web in which you are caught.
  3. Accept the uncertainty of the future: We can only take one path and can never know what would have happened had we taken a different one. It is as if there were an endless branching of possibilities stretching out before us. The place we find ourselves in is determined by the past, but it tells us little about how things will turn out in the distant future. The path that appears to wind wearily uphill may provide unexpected rewards later on. Thus, the third condition for fruitful change is to accept the uncertainty of the future.

Chapter 4, page 25

Recent Comments

  1. joe murray

    Yes, I have had this problem for some time. I have set my goals too
    low! In addition, these were short term goals. In the past three years I have made a simple correction.

    I have set much higher goals over a longer time period. I have also
    tried to become an “independant-thinker’. These corrections have

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