We’re inundated with nutritional information for healthy eating in order to maintain well-flowing arteries, high-functioning organs and a generally healthy body. Most is common sense, things our parents taught us. Eat fruits and vegetables. OK, we didn’t know it was the lycopene in the tomatoes that made them so healthy, but we did know tomatoes were good for us. We are also highly informed on maintaining healthy hearts, bones and muscles with exercise, supplements and alternative therapies like acupuncture and massage.

While donating blood at the American Red Cross recently, it was viscerally clear to me that I am what I eat. The contents of that blood was a reflection of all the choices I had made about what to put into my body—the healthy food and the junk food, and the low-fat veggies and the fatty cheeses. It was also clear to me that the contents of that blood determines, in part, my health and vitality. So I choose every day how healthy and functional I want to be.

It also struck me that the same is true for my mind. I am what I think. The contents of my mind is a reflection of all the choices I make about what I put into it. And the contents of my mind determines my overall health and vitality. In this way too, I choose every day how healthy and functional I want to be. And so do you.

If an assessment was done on your mind today, what would the results be? Is your mind a vibrant picture of health—supple and pulsing with life and energy? Or is it atrophying in places from too much focus on one area of your life. Is it thriving or suffering? Possibly suffering from an over-focus on work, or thriving from a balance of work and leisure, from judgment and frustration with small daily events, or thriving with a focus on gratitude for all the blessings present to each one of us every day, or from an abundance of mental and verbal chatter, or thriving with time and space for solitude and silence?

Mind Nutrition Guideposts

As leaders, how do we maintain healthy minds (not brains, but minds, the seat of our consciousness)? Again, this is not new information—we already know it. The opportunity is in how we actually use and practice it, and build healthy mental habits.

Here are some tips:

  • Exercise your mind. Keep your mind facile and growing. Be curious. Let your interests guide your discovery and learning. Do not let your innate need to "know" or to "be right" get in the way of your learning. Challenge yourself to think beyond your current thinking. Tone your mind; no flabby thinking allowed.
  • Feed your mind positive thoughts. Are you listening to talk radio, for example? if so, stop. It is junk food for the mind.
  • Be intentional about what you feed your mind. Practice gratitude, being aware of and thankful for the many things you do have. When focused on what you don’t have, that is all you’ll see.
  • Focus on what you do have and you’ll ride a wave of peaceful gratitude into your day. It is very easy for the human mind to run amok, mired in the negative aspects of life. Don’t let it happen to you.
  • Keep it peaceful. Be a "non-anxious presence." In the face of others’ distress, do not absorb it. It has been said when your dog jumps down the well the least helpful thing you can do is jump down after him. You will be most healthy and most effective in any situation when you remain distinct from it, yet connected in a helpful way to it. So when the drama alarms go off in your office (you know the ones), don your oxygen mask first, breathe deeply of the clean pure air, and then step in to assist others. And find ways to remain peaceful in an anxious world.
  • Take daily booster vitamins. Spend a few minutes every morning super-charging your mind with clarity, intent for the day and a clear plan for how you will move through the day. Clarity boosts everything. Nourish your mind and your body. You will find your ability to reach your potential as a leader, and as a human being, richly enhanced.
Barbara Osterman, founder and owner of Human Solutions LLC, is a business leadership consultant and cultural catalyst. She can be reached at 585-586-1717 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . This article appeared in Business Strategies Magazine, February 2004.

Barbara Osterman
About The Author Barbara Osterman [Full Bio]
Barbara Osterman, founder and owner of Human Solutions LLC, is a business leadership consultant and cultural catalyst. She supports organizations in increasing business performance and results by successfully weaving business initiatives and culture transformations.

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