It’s hard to believe that it’s been 17 years since terrorism landed at our front door in such a profound way that claimed the lives of thousands, caused billions of dollars in destruction and seared suffering, wreckage and vulnerability in the American psyche.
But from that tragedy emerged some good including a national conversation about resilience — a personal attribute that we are wise to cultivate.
With age comes experience, but it’s our aptitude for flexibility that creates the resilience we need to handle the challenges of our lives.
Too often with aging comes rigidity — we become less malleable with time. Most people know how important it is to be physically flexible, but not as many understand that mental flexibility is just as important. Being emotionally fit helps us handle what life throws our way.
Here are a few ways to intentionally add flexibility — a little yoga of the mind — and get out of your comfort zone.
>> Make conscious changes. What do you do everyday that is the same? Do you always order the same food, go to the same restaurants, buy the same detergent, shop at the same store or drive the same way home every day? Do something different on purpose.
>> Watch what you say. When you use words like can’t, never, always or shouldn’t, you practice rigidity. Practice using phrases like, “Let’s see how that works” or “I’m open to considering that” or “I’d like to think about that some more.” Anything you say that allows for open exploration supports flexibility.
>> Try something new. Learn something new. Cook something different. Anytime you participate in novel and stimulating activities, you activate your brain to fire in different ways. Mental flexibility is supported by novelty and newness.
>> Be less critical. Sometimes we see people and judge them based on one thing. Decide to allow people to be who they are without criticizing them. Look for traits you appreciate versus the ones that bother you.
>> Argue for the other side. When you get into a disagreement with a friend or your partner, make it a point to see it from their side. If you can see the situation from a different perspective (even if you don’t agree), you will be exercising your brain.
>> Practice mind flexibility daily. Just like we need to stretch our body to be more flexible, the same is true for our mind.
While these suggestions may seem very simple, they are not easy. However, the more you can enhance your mental flexibility, the more of an ease-filled and comfortable life you will lead.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.