13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do started as a personal reminder to not give in to bad habits in the face of adversity, but turned into a psychological guidebook to help you improve your mental strength and emotional resilience.
When I started Four Minute Books, I decided to go through all the summaries I’d already read on Blinkist and write posts for those. This is the third to last of them. Two more, and it’ll be all uncharted territory from there. There’s a reason I waited that long for this book. Knowing the history of how it came about, I wasn’t sure if I could deliver a lot of value with this summary. In hindsight, I’m stupid for even questioning it (you’ll see).
The book expands on Amy’s famous article on Lifehack, has become a bestseller and was translated into more than 20 languages.
- Complaining that you’re not getting something you think you deserve is a waste of your energy.
- Eradicate your Facebook news feed and stop the comparison madness.
- Finally learn to be alone.
I hope you’re ready for some serious mental exercise…brain lifts, here we go!
Lesson 1: Complaining that you’re not getting something you think you deserve is a waste of your energy.
Number 4 on Amy’s original list was not wasting energy on things that are outside of your control. This not only means not trying to change the weather, other people’s behavior, or the fact that you just got fired, but also not wasting energy complaining about it.
Every complaint is a serious waste of your breath and it’s a topic that keeps resurfacing in books again and again and again for a reason. Even if you think you really really deserve something (and you might), the world doesn’t owe you anything. The minute you believe it does, you’re setting yourself up for anger, frustration and bitterness.
For example, if you get a divorce and your spouse gets custody of your daughter, she might end up showering her with expensive gifts you can’t afford. You can complain about it, but it’ll only make you focus on the bad parts and try to control your ex-wife’s behavior. If you instead took that time to just spend it with your daughter and show her you love her, she would never turn against you. But if you’re busy fighting with your ex-wife and neglect her, you’ll probably indeed damage the relationship.
Lesson 2: Kill your Facebook news feed and stop comparing yourself for a while.
Let’s face it, scrolling down your Facebook feed only makes you feel dead inside. You’ve just gotten addicted to the little dopamine hits you get from finding something good every once in a while, that’s why you keep scrolling. Other than that, you’re just poisoning your own well by indulging in all kinds of comparisons.
You know what? It’s time. Time to stop the comparison madness. Looking at a sea of promotion notifications, Hawaii beach photographs, new cars and VIP events can you look at, just makes you feel miserable about your own life. But Facebook is just a highlight reel. It doesn’t show the shitty sides of life. Just the good stuff.
It’s a bad yardstick to measure your self-worth by and will only make you compete with others in vanity metrics. How can you be a true friend if you’re constantly busy envying what your friends do and have?
Stop it. Eliminate your Facebook feed with a few clicks. Leave it for a week. See how you feel. You won’t miss anything. But you’ll feel content with your life.
Lesson 3: Finally learn to be okay with being alone.
Speaking of content, there’s another thing Facebook can’t teach you. It’s okay to be alone. When was the last time you just sat on your chair, alone in your room, and did nothing? No phone, no reading, no TV, no music. Because that’s what being a human is.
Just being. We’ve completely forgotten how to do that, largely because our society condemns it. If you’re not active, you must be lazy. That’s why we’re terrified of being alone and turn to watching Youtube videos while eating, permanently listening to music, or texting 50 people the second we realize we’re about to run out of “buzz”.
I’m guilty of this. Only recently have I stopped watching shows while eating and started taking long walks without having my earbuds popped in. But being alone like that teaches you that the world doesn’t collapse when it happens and that you actually don’t need anything more.
You’re totally okay just being by yourself. It’s a wonderful realization to come to and, more importantly, one of the biggest precursors of being able to establish healthy relationships with others.
My personal take-aways
I’ve admired Amy Morin’s work for several years. Her article has been shared over 700,000 (!) times. As a fellow Lifehack author, she’s inspired me, especially since I’m super into willpower. Before you now dismiss Amy as “another writer who got lucky and turned a viral article into a book”, you should hear her story.
Note: I’ve written about how you can become a contributor to Lifehack too!
Within a three year period, Amy lost her mother and 26 year old husband, who both suddenly died. In 2013, when her father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she wrote the original article as a reminder to herself. The clinical social worker and psychotherapist had long been practicing her craft, since it was her 40th article on Lifehack and struck the right nerve at the right time.
I love the calls to solitude and returning to our roots. Good set of blinks (I think all 13 things are included) and a great book, go for it!