76. Bicep curls for the brain. What exactly is mental fitness?
For a long time, the focus of psychology research was helping people who were struggling. The focus was on clinical diagnoses like anxiety or depression.
Eventually, a new branch of psychology research appeared called “positive psychology.” The paradigm shift was the recognition that it was also important to help people that were doing relatively fine, begin to thrive.
This research in positive psychology now serves as the evidence-based foundation for coaches and consultants who promote the importance of mental fitness. The goal is to create micro-level interventions that individuals can use regularly and on-demand without a great deal of time or cost involved.
For example, there are meditation apps like Calm or Headspace that guide us through short exercises that help us re-center and work on self-regulation. There are also plenty of tools and exercises out there that focus on things like gratitude or a growth mindset.
The goal of these mental fitness interventions is to incrementally program our brain to begin incorporating these positive states. Based on neuroplasticity research - which suggests that the brain can adapt and change through experience - the hope is that we’ll strengthen our brain just like we strengthen our bodies.