Mental Obesity


Mental obesity is on the rise.

We all know the symptoms of being physically unfit — obesity, labored breathing, poor strength, chronic illness. We also know exactly what it takes to become physically FIT — exercise, nutrition, sleep.

What is less known is what it means to be MENTALLY unfit.

What does it mean to be mentally obese?

Here are some common symptoms:

  • you find it difficult to focus
  • you’re highly anxious
  • you’re rarely fully present in meetings; you’re constantly multi-tasking
  • you’re often ruminating about the past or the future
  • you’re constantly being triggered (by an email, a text, something someone says)
  • you’re unable to pause before responding to situations; you’re highly reactive
  • you’re not aware of what you’re feeling from moment to moment
  • you worry about work even when you’re not working
  • you have trouble sleeping because your thoughts keep you awake
  • you’re judgmental of yourself and others

These are all indicators of an unfit mind — a mind that has been sitting on the proverbial sofa, eating chocolate and watching too many shows on Netflix. The good news is that an unfit mind can become a fit mind in the exact same way that an unfit body can become a fit body — through training.

Here are four proven training modalities for the mind:

MEDITATION: a fit mind has sharp attention and an ability to focus on one thing for extended periods of time. Meditation can help. Start with my 100 Seconds of Mindfulness Challenge (see comments).

COACHING/THERAPY: a fit mind can glimpse more of the internal blind spots that trip us up. We need someone from the outside to help point these out. A coach or a therapist is an invaluable tool in helping us do that.

COGNITIVE BIASES: a fit mind is less likely to fall victim to the plethora of common cognitive biases, aka thinking errors. Learn to identify the most common thinking errors so you can spot them in action (see comments).

SLEEP: if you’re not physically well-rested then you’re not going to be mentally sharp. A fit mind is a rested mind. If you fall short on this one then everything else gets hard.

We’ve been talking about physical obesity for decades. Now it’s time to bring mental obesity to the forefront. The future of our individual lives and humanity as a collective will be most largely shaped by one thing: the fitness of our minds.

By Ryan Paugh

Hi there!

With decades spent exploring the outer world and the inner world, I share some of the insights I have learned along the way.

Topics include mindfulness, spirituality, growth, perspective, and career.

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