The Fierce Gentleman has a lot to do in the world.
A Fierce Gentleman who recently emailed provides a typical example. He was:
- working a full-time job
- raising a young child
- applying to adopt another child
- building a shed
- cutting firewood
- planting a salad garden
- working on a side business
The greater your gift, the greater the demands placed on you by the world.
And the greater the demands, the more crucial it is that you build a rock-solid physical and mental foundation that can bear up under all that demand.
With that said, here’s what I consider the essentials of physical & mental health: the Fierce Gentleman Foundations.
Today we tackle the first, and most important, Fierce Gentleman Foundation: the mental diet.
F.G. FOUNDATION I: YOUR MENTAL DIET
You are what you are, and where you are, because of what has gone into your mind.
You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.
Because of this, your mental diet is the first and foremost in importance.
To understand your mental diet, answer this question:
- What is the first thing you take into your mind when you wake up?
- What is the last thing you take into your mind before you sleep?
Far too many men I know answer the first question “My email” or “The Internet”, and far too many men I know end their days with violent TV shows, or violent arguments with their spouse.
Ancient wisdom says “Don’t let the sun set on your anger.” As for the Internet, it is a tool that can be used for good or ill. Without great discipline, it defaults to being a time-wasting, attention-fracturing tool of mass distraction.
The mental inputs you take first thing in the morning set the tone for the day, so the F.G. makes them the most positive, energizing, uplifting inputs you can possibly manage. (That’s usually not his email inbox.)
It could be an ancient wisdom book like the Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, some Camus or Pope or Schweitzer or even the Dalai Lama. Let these great minds touch yours across the centuries and lift it up.
Your initial morning inputs should concentrate your mind, deepen and still it, and allow you to gather your Presence for the day. My father rose between 4-5am, before anyone else in the family, to get work done. I now rise between 430-5am to gather inspiration from wisdom texts, and to spend at least 20 minutes in quiet meditation, letting the wisdom sink into my mind.
The Buddhists call this “setting the day”. You are planting the seeds of peace, equanimity, and strength that you will continue to tend and water throughout the next 16 to 20 hours.
Feed your mind optimism, hope, and calm before you feed your body. Spend at least 20 minutes in quiet relaxation, allowing your mind to gather itself for the day, before your family wakes up.
Improving your mental diet is as much about elimination as it is about addition. While you are adding wisdom books and uplifting media, you must also subtract useless and fear-based “news”, the mindless chatter that makes up 99% of blogs and Facebook and Twitter posts, and the violent, superficial or gossip-based movies and TV shows that make up 99% of our “entertainment”.
Cleaning up your mental diet will make cleaning up your physical diet at least 50% easier.
- Eliminate negative influences in your mental diet.
- Add positive words, images & media in their place.
- Spend the first 10-20 minutes of the day in silence, in mental relaxation or meditation.
In the next article, we’ll tackle eating a clean diet.
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Also published on Medium.