Strength is Not Given; It Is Built
As parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc. we want to see our loved ones have what we perceive to be happy, healthy and wealthy lives. As these are all terms based on separate understandings, experiences and perspectives it is impossible to define what that looks like for any one person. Which is why there is no universal book on parenting, growth and life. What is your definition of happiness and what steps do you take to get there? Every child, teenager and adult goes through different experiences that will inevitably shape the way they see and act in the world. However, there is one universal aspect that all people deal with in any of these unique situations and that is “pressure”. Pressure is defined as “the force exerted on an object” and this force can be felt physical, mentally and emotionally. Pressure is also a relative term, as we all face different forms of pressure as we go through life. Therefore, our lives are not represented by the level of pressure we deal with; but instead our ability to deal with that pressure. Our Strength!
Strength is defined as “the ability to deal with pressure” and is not one size fits all. Strength is not a number but a ratio. It is the percentage of force given based on the amount of force in possession. There are 2 people petting a dog, who is stronger? The veterinarian who has been working with dogs all their lives or the person with cynophobia (the fear of dogs). The person with cynophobia is stronger because they have to mentally, emotionally and physically push through a larger amount of pressure to complete the same task. How well do you handle pressure? The one pressure that all life on this planet is built through and would not exist without, is gravity. The force of gravity combined with your DNA shapes how your body will develop. Both the actual and perceived capability of our bodies influences the way we react in a given situation. The human brain is built on safety and the likelihood of injury. The more physically, mentally and emotionally capable our bodies the less we have to mentally calculate the level of danger, known as risk.
Physical activity creates an increase of pressure on the body which forces the body to change and adapt. As children develop, there is a connection formed between the brain and muscle tissue that will also play a massive roll into adulthood. This connection is called the central nervous system and it is connected through single nerve cells in the spinal cord called motor neurons. These motor neurons are the only way the brain connects to our muscles. A motor neuron cell body is located in the motor cortex, brainstem or the spinal cord. The fibers project to the spinal cord and outside the spinal cord to directly or indirectly control muscles, organs and glands. Physical activity helps to build the connection between the brain and muscles through the central nervous system. Consistent aerobic exercise just 30 minutes a day, induces persistent improvements in cognitive functions, healthy alterations in gene expression in the brain and beneficial forms of neuroplasticity (neuroplasticity is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization). Long term benefits include increased neurological activity leading to improving academic performance, improved stress coping and enhanced cognitive control to name a few. This change creates an improved physical capacity which leads to an increase in mental cognition, self confidence and ability to deal with life’s pressures.
As a parent, have you ever leaned towards or taken your child completely out of a situation they should have dealt with at their age because you wanted to “protect them”? Do you tend to shelter your children from a stressful situation based on your own fears? If you envision a happy, healthy and wealthy life for your children, you must help them learn to deal with the pressures of life. Getting them out, moving and active will directly impact a child’s mental health which continues all the way into adulthood. As Simone Usselman-Tod mentioned in last weeks amazing Circle the Child article (do yourself a favour and go read it), actions speak louder than words. As teachers and leaders our actions have an impact on the younger generation. Just as importantly our actions (or lack there of) also impact our own mental health. So, lead by example, be active, improve your own physical health and mental health. This will in turn influence your children and improve their physical and mental health. So, let’s all do ourselves a favour and instead of hiding from pressure, let’s walk, jog or run towards it!
Zachary Bosanac uses the power of physical strength training to grow your body and mind so you can be your strongest in any situation you choose to muscle your way into.