Mental Mechanics: Don’t Stress Over Stress

Stress is a term we all know well. 

It is also a term that has been twisted, tortured and bent to take on many forms over the years. 

Originally coming from centuries of use in the world of Physics. It was used to explain elasticity, or the property of a material to resume its original shape and size after being influenced by an external force. 

Dr. Hans Selye used the term to fill a void in the literature to describe the pathologic changes that occurred in laboratory animals that were exposed to acute stimuli. He later demonstrated that persistent “stress” could cause long-term disease development. His work drew significant attention and “stress” became a buzzword in multiple fields. The problem was that the usage all but ignored his original definition and intent.  

Because most individuals were using the term to describe disagreeable threats, Dr. Selye introduced a new term, “stressor,” to differentiate between stimulus and response. 
Over the years we have continued to be socialized in understanding stress as being negative. Other terms have emerged to describe good (eustress) vs bad (distress) types of stress. 
If you look at Selye’s original definition,  it simply states that it is response of the body to any demand placed upon it. He did not classify it as good or bad, in fact he labeled it as “non-specific.”
Instead of fearing stress, or beating the term up, try embracing it as a normalized and consistent response to life demands.

Plan for it, learn to manage it effectively, and create awareness around YOUR personal responses to stimuli. If you need help with the process, seek it from a trusted source. 
Take the lessons that come with these events and allow yourself to develop and grow.

Once we embrace it, it can no longer hurt us. Stress is like an old friend, one that we bump into often in our daily adventures.  It is not good. It is not bad. It simply is. 
Change your relationship with stress and all areas of your life will change with it. 

Mental Mechanics: Change is in the Air

“Change is enevitable, growth is optional.”

John C. Maxwell

I want to share a secret,
It might sound a little strange.
I’ve learned the only constant 
Is a little thing called change. 


September begins the season of change. It is one of the most significant times of year. The August heat is beginning to submit to cooler days. The pumpkin has once again become the most popular fruit on the planet, bringing promises of pies and spiced lattes. The bright green leaves of Spring and Summer begin their brilliant transformation cycle. Soon the forests will be engulfed in flaming oranges, yellows, and reds. This is my favorite season for several reasons. The largest of which deals with the beauty we associate with change. 

I would wager that most humans have a love-hate relationship with change. Ironically, it is the thing that happens most in our lives. Days change, weather changes, we change our minds, we change our socks, and we change jobs.  Change is literally the only thing that is consistent in our existence. 

Whether things are going really well, or really poorly, the one guarantee is that they won’t last…no matter how hard we try to hang on. Change is consistently one of our biggest societal fears. We are also socialized to think change equates to negative outcomes. Please indulge me for a moment.  Every single good and monumental thing in your life also came from change. If we can embrace the idea that nothing stays the same, and learn to adapt to whatever comes along, change cannot hurt us.  Once we become comfortable with this type of movement, it is considerably less scary. 

Today, think about change that you’ve been resisting. How has that resistance affected your life, and growth? How much better would your life be, if you made peace with it? How can you begin embracing it today? 

Mental Mechanics: Creating Meaning

“Go after what creates meaning in your life, and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

Kelly McGonigal

Meaning inspires us
fueling our flames of wellness


One universal truth about human existence is that our lives are multidimensional. Much of our efforts focus on the physical and mental dimensions of our well-being. But we are made up of so much more.  One important aspect of humanity, albeit often overlooked and misunderstood, is our spirit self. Spiritual wellness is unique for each of us. It is usually the deepest part of our existence, which shapes who we are and ultimately what we do in life. This dimension can often be the most personal piece of our wellness puzzle. 

Our spiritual wellness centers around meaning and purpose. When we perceive our journey to be filled with meaning, it allows us to align our values with our efforts. Spiritual wellness can be represented in numerous ways, ranging from religion, to relaxation, to reflection. Increasing our spiritual wellness means understanding those things that provide meaning in our lives. Whether we follow organized religion or not, we all crave a sense of meaning and purpose. 

I believe the hardest part of increasing our spiritual well-being is taking the time for self-reflection. Take a few deliberate moments today to search inside yourself. Look for those things in your life that provide a deep sense of meaning. What would allow you to have more of it? What else can you do to increase meaning in your life. Make a plan and go for it. Life is too short to just push through, continuing to do things that aren’t aligned with your true purpose. 

Make your life great.

Mental Mechanics: Being Proactive

“Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

Harvey McKay

Do not wait until
You are overcome with heat
To start finding shade.


I have been accused of procrastinating a few times in my life. I was going to list a few specific instances but decided just to do it later. One thing I have learned about success in life from some of the most elite performers on the planet is that it goes hand in hand with proactive thinking.  The most successful people in our society have solid plans. They also have contingencies in place when those plans inevitably go awry. 

There will undoubtedly be many times in life in which you will have to react. If you are a human (like me), then you can probably recall quite a few right now. Being reactionary is a tremendous skill to have…if you apply it in the right ways. Sitting back and waiting for things to happen ‘to you’ won’t do much to help you succeed. Having plans in place so that when you have to react, you can do so deliberately, will get you much closer to your goals. Think of these as your “When/Then” plans. When ___ happens, then I will handle it by doing ___. This approach has always allowed me to be intentional in those moments. I have been able to respond (not react) to those bumps in the road (which ALWAYS happen) in a way that is more in line with the direction I want to go.  

Today, take an honest look at your situation. Are you being deliberate in how you approach the goals you are pursuing? Are you putting off till tomorrow, what you should be doing today?

This is your life. Make it look however you think it should…TODAY. 

Mental Mechanics: Getting Back Up

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you’re hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”

Rocky Balboa

I have seen this clip or read this quote in many inspirational/motivational venues. It is one of the most recognizable quotes I’ve used, either because of the relatable content or the impassioned delivery. I must agree that it is very motivating, and on a personal note, I like to revisit it occasionally for a quick reminder. Life isn’t easy, that is not new information. It is a wonderful, joyous, and very rewarding journey. One that is also filled with challenges, obstacles, and opportunities to learn valuable lessons. The key, as stated in the quote, is to keep moving. Some days we won’t be able to move a great distance, but we must keep moving. Taking a knee occasionally to rest and re-group is necessary, but we must keep moving. Think back to a time when you thought you’d never persevere through a challenge that you were facing. Perhaps it seemed so overwhelming, and opposing, that you were not certain that you had enough to make it through successfully. Now notice I said “think back” to that time. It is behind you, you made it. It may not have been easy, or pretty, but you made it. You kept moving.

We are capable of some pretty amazing things when we can learn to just get out of our own way, stop self-imposing challenges, and KEEP MOVING. Take time today to really look at a current challenge that you are facing. Then explore ways that you can really move (even a step) further today. Take a hard look at yourself, and decide what you are worth, and what you deserve in life. No matter how big this challenge seems, you CAN keep moving beyond it. You’ve done it before, so why not now? It is your life, make it look exactly the way you want it to.

Mental Mechanics: Simplicity

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.


This is one of my all-time favorites. I’m not sure if truer words were ever spoken.

I revisit it often, and it always reminds me of how complicated our lives are ONLY because we choose to make them so.

I believe simplicity is one of the most critical aspects of living a successful life. Think about it, when things are going well for you, most likely, the process is simple.

The most elite performers I have ever worked with have figured this out. To keep things simple is to focus on the building blocks that make us better. It is not allowing noise, narratives, or never-ending comparisons to make us feel as though things should be more complicated.

As humans, we have gotten extremely good at filling our lives with as much unnecessary “stuff” as possible, to the point of detriment. We have learned to excel at overcomplicating our journey and often keeping ourselves from effectively moving forward.

Today, take a realistic look at your situation. Are you making things more complex than they need to be? Are you simplifying where you can? If not, why not?

This is your life. Make it look however it should allow you to be at your best. Make things as simple as you possibly can.

Mental Mechanics: Presence

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

Henry David Thoreau

As humans, we LOVE the “next big thing.” We follow trends; we buy new products and programs; we want to be part of something new and exciting.

The problem with this idea is that it sometimes turns important ideas into fads or gimmicks. When meaningful concepts fall into these categories, they lose their power and become white noise. We tend to move on to whatever catches our eye next.

The ability to “be in the present” is not just a popular phrase but a recognized and scientifically proven key to elite performance.

Although being present has become a bit of a trendy phrase lately, the holistic benefits are well documented.

Experts in many fields are quick to recommend activities to help us be present, to assist in everything from increased quality of life to lowered anxiety. Shelves are lined with new books about the topic weekly. Companies are paying top dollar for speakers and programs to help their teams get an edge.

This concept is not new, it does not require expensive texts or workshops, and it can be practiced almost anywhere and anytime. Being present means that we are fully immersed in and embracing the moment. We are not judging it or allowing our thoughts to pull us away. We are simply part of it. This ability comes naturally to us, something we have as children. We become socialized to scatter our attention, take on as much as possible and judge it harshly.

Being present is not always easy. We have trained our brains to dwell on the past or try to predict the future. It takes work, but it is something we can all do. It just takes practice and deliberate intent.

Being present is the key to health and happiness. It helps cuts down on the excessive worry and helps us stay connected to the world around us.

Today, take a moment to be present. At your desk, on the floor, or on a walk outside. Just allow yourself to be part of the moment. Accept what is and that you are only part of it. Once we can take the element of judgment and control from the moment, we can simply be part of it.

This is your life. Why not be there for as much of it as you can?

Mental Mechanics: What Makes a Champion?


What makes champions?

Their ability to thrive

In adversity. 


Those we consider champions are the ones that reach their respective pinnacles. It could be standing on the center podium at the Olympics, hoisting a belt overhead in the center of the ring, or a trophy on the field. 

I have had the good fortune of working with champions in multiple areas of life, from World Champions to Heavyweight Champions, to award-winning performers. 

Many factors lead to this level of success. 

If you look back at some of the greatest champions in history, you will see that they most likely managed some type of life adversity. They found a struggle as part of their journey and were able to manage it. They used the lessons learned to create better versions of themselves. 

This ability led to their ultimate success. 

Adversity doesn’t have to be a showstopper. It can simply be a chance to regroup, reprioritize, and recommit to our pursuits. Adversity is a needed element of life.

I like to look to nature for many life lessons. A tree needs certain adversities to grow strong. It extends its root system to search for water, as well as to brace against the wind. If this were not the case, the roots would not grow long and deep into the earth, and the tree would topple over. 

Today, look at an adversity that you are currently facing. How can you use the lessons in it to become a better version of yourself? 

This is YOUR life. You choose what to do with each experience, the good and the bad.

Choose to be better and keep moving forward.