MENTAL STRENGTH (Part II): Get Quiet

Greetings Everyday Spy,

I’m old enough to remember when ‘New Age’ was actually new.

For my mom’s 33rd birthday I bought her a book. The book was called, ‘Learning to Love Yourself’ and my 13 year-old brain thought it was the perfect gift. Turns out I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was at 13!

I loved my mom – still do. As a kid, she was my hero; a hard-charging woman with an on-fire career who loved to read. She lived off of coffee and raw determination, and was excited if she got 5 hours of sleep a night.

I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face when she unwrapped the gift I gave her.

Her face changed from a smile into a mix of confusion, embarrassment, and disgust. She managed an awkward thank you and patiently asked me why I chose that particular book. I think my answer was, “It made me think of you.”

Without realizing it, I had broken an unwritten rule that was very important in the 1990s: never talk about new-age, self-help, hippie mumbo-jumbo with educated professionals.

Luckily, times have changed since my bad book choice in 1993.

The self-help industry is worth $12 billion dollars in 2019 and estimated to grow $1 billion each year through 2022.

94% of millennials reported making personal improvement commitments in 2015. The same was true for 81% of Gen Xers and 84% of baby boomers.

And with so many people looking to improve, there is no shortage of salesmen willing to sell new age solutions to age old problems.

Elite operators recognize that self-help is real, but the self-help industry is a fraud.

No video, book, or blog post promising improvement is ever going to improve you. The only way to actually help yourself is through practice.

Spies practice. Special ops units practice. You can practice, too.

Actions practiced regularly yield improvement 100% of the time.

EverydaySpy is committed to breaking down complex concepts into simple actions.

When you want to get better at walking, you walk. When you want to get better at shooting, you shoot. When you want to get better at writing, singing, cooking grits or skinning a deer you don’t grab a book or do a Google search – you just practice.

This training series is about improving your mental strength. All you need to do is practice.

Thinking clearly is the most important factor in building mental strength.

The mind is incredibly efficient. If it were a computer, we would say it runs 24/7 with parallel processors (conscious and subconscious) and limitless storage capacity, without the option to reboot or upgrade technology.

Despite all that we know about the power of the human brain, 92% of people do not meet the goals they set and 70% say they are unhappy with their lives.

The gap between what you can achieve and what you are achieving is not due to something that is missing. It’s due to something that is present but blocking you.

You are getting distracted.

The amygdala is the central clearinghouse for all information that enters your brain.

Your mind is bombarded by distractions everyday. Notifications catch your ear, images catch your eye, and smells catch your attention all day long. Your 5 senses are under constant attack.

Your almond-sized amygdala is responsible for processing, directing, and initiating the body’s response to every one of those sensory inputs.

When you think clearly, your amygdala works like a turbo-engine. But when you get distracted – when your thoughts get jumbled – your amygdala gets gummed up and misfires.

Two minutes of quiet each day can more than double your amygdala’s performance.

Quiet removes distractions. By reducing the flow of new sensory inputs, your brain has space to index and classify previous data from the day.

Quiet is not meditation, mindfulness, self-love or any other piece of hocus-pocus upsell. Quiet doesn’t even mean silence. Quiet happens any time you reduce the flow of new inputs from your 5 senses.

Quiet can look a lot of ways. Here are some examples you can use right away.

  • Close your eyes at your desk
  • Silence your phone
  • Turn off the TV
  • Step outside
  • Stand in a room with white noise
  • Stare at a sheet of white paper

Quiet is a free, easily accessible, unlimited resources that brings immediate and lasting improvement to your mental strength.

Two minutes of quiet reduces stress levels, increases memory, decreases anxiety and increases personal feelings of satisfaction.

You’ve seen it happen in your life before. Think back to a moment where you experienced intense stress, fear, or shock. When faced with that overwhelming new sensory input, your amygdala needed time to process the data. To take the time it needed, it ‘forced’ you to be quiet; it made you do something like close your eyes, cover your face, put your hands on your head, stop listening, or maybe even sit down.

As your mind reaches optimal performance, you need less quiet time to maintain the same level of mental strength.

Quiet is what we call a ‘force multiplier.’ It yields increasing results while using decreasing resources. All it takes is practice.

Quiet is not sleeping, reading, ‘vegging out’ or anything else you do by turning your mind ‘off.’ Quiet happens when your brain is awake and active but protected from distractions. It is a choice you have to make.

And you are going to start now… with me… right here.

    Step 1: pull up a timer – on your phone, computer, or watch

    Step 2: set it for a 2 minute countdown with an alarm

    Step 3: After you read this sentence, start the timer and close your eyes…

    …

If you skipped the exercise, you missed the most important part. If you just finished the exercise, I know exactly how clear and strong your mind feels right now.

Take your 2 minutes of quiet as often as you want. There is no such thing as too much or too little.

But you must take it. You will not increase your mental strength as long as you let yourself be controlled by the distractions around you.

If you want to disagree with me, you can. If you want to tell me you don’t have time, you can.

The men and women who jump out of planes, work incognito, and change the course of history all take 2 minutes of quiet every day.

And you will understand why as soon as you try it.

The self-help book I bought my mom gathered dust on a shelf for nearly two decades before she gave it away.

She continued in her career to become CEO of a specialty hospital in Pennsylvania. She is one of the strongest minds I’ve ever met, and she keeps getting stronger.

2 minutes at a time.

Goodspeed, #EverydaySpy