How a Positive Mindset Can Be Your Competitive Advantage
Being a happy, positive, and joyful person all the time might feel a little exhausting like you have to fake it and be someone you’re not. But what if, with a few simple mindfulness practices, you could quickly return to your natural state, a steady equilibrium that feels good and could help you meet your fitness goals? Well, read on to learn how a positive mindset can be your competitive advantage.
Being positive is not fake smiles
Everyone experiences emotional highs and lows. You didn’t get the promotion, your kids are sick, you didn’t reach the goal of setting your personal best, you had a big-time disagreement with a family member. To be human is to experience all the emotions, and sometimes ‘hey, look on the bright side’ is the last thing you want to hear. Having a positive mindset is not about shoving down emotions and slapping on a fake smile. It is about:
- Being mindful
- Staying committed to your goals
- Acknowledging what feels real
- Accepting what is without judgment
Mindfulness. A buzzword you’ve most likely heard before, but what does it mean?
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” (mindful.org)
Mindfulness is awareness of surroundings, sensations, feelings without having to do anything about it. Being in a state of equanimity; mental composure under challenging situations, awareness without reaction. Being fully present, not reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around gives you a significant competitive advantage. You can stay focused on your goal, committed to the outcome, whether that’s completing a marathon, setting a personal best for your squat, swimming against the clock, or even doing a tricky kettlebell move that requires your attention to do it safely and correctly. No matter the crowds, noise, or mental chatter you are totally dialed in.
1-Minute Mindfulness Practice:
- Sit up straight, but not stiffly, in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands in a balanced position and close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing as you follow each breath in and out.
- After 1 minute (or longer), gradually open your eyes and resume activities.
(Center for Healthy Living at Kaiser Permanente)
Staying committed to your goals
Part of a positive mindset is staying committed to your goals. That might look like getting back to the gym after some time off, working out with a buddy to stay accountable, or trying something new, like winter fat-biking. Staying committed means:
- Being clear on the goal
- Making it simple and measurable
- Having a WHY
- Setting up structure and accountability
- Having a plan for when you’re struggling
- Treating yourself to a reward
We’ve laid everything out for you in our 2022 Goal Setting Guide. You don’t want to miss it.
Part of having a positive mindset is allowing yourself to feel your feelings. Go ahead and be with the upset, the letdowns, the heartbreaks. It’s ok, and it’s normal. Then when you’re done being hurt, angry, and disappointed, come back to your goal and what you’ve set your sights on. Being stuck in negativity usually means no forward movement or momentum, and if you’re going to win and be a competitor, you’ve got to get back in the game. You can do this.
Acknowledging what feels real
When you’re embracing a positive mindset, you acknowledge what is happening. You are not avoiding it, pushing it down, or living in denial; you look at it straight on. If you’re the type of person that’s always on the go, slowing down long enough to do even a 1-minute mindfulness practice might be challenging. That is ok; it’s called a ‘practice’ for a reason.
Be honest with yourself. When we slow down, we’re confronted with thoughts, ideas, and feelings we’ve been avoiding. Being mindful and aware forces you to be with what’s going and, most importantly, acknowledging it without any guilt, shame, or weakness. You may want to express this emotion through movement, like yoga, dancing, or creatively through drawing, painting, or writing.
Having the competitive edge means having the courage and ability to be with your emotions and continue on the path to victory without letting them take you out.
Accepting what is without judgment
Acceptance is all about self-compassion and kindness. Speaking to yourself as you would a young child, asking yourself ‘what do I need,’ or giving yourself what makes you happy. You might be thinking, ‘what does this have to do with exercise and reaching a goal’… well according to the author, speaker, and happiness and success expert, Michelle Gielan, being optimistic can result in:
- 25% greater performance ratings
- 31% higher productivity
- 23% lower stress
Accepting without judgment is part of sharpening your mind for the competitive advantage. Focus your energy and attention on moving forward, on what’s next, and you’ll have everyone else beat. Think about how quickly you’ll be able to rebound and get back in the game when you’re not busy being hard on yourself for how it went.
Your creativity, intelligence, and energy levels rise when you have a positive mindset. It helps you recover from illness, keeps you focused and allows you to believe that you have everything you need to reach the top. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and come back stronger, more equipped and resilient. Now that’s a competitive advantage!
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