Essay:Quantifying Mental Strength

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Our society thrives in quantifying physical strength, such as how fast one can run, how long one can jog, how far one can throw a ball, and how much weight one can lift. We quantify and respect it, and use quantified targets to improve.

Mental strength is far more important than physical strength. It is long overdue to quantify -- and improve -- mental strength:

  1. do you frequently have problems with anxiety? Can you reduce the occurrences or intensity?
  2. does your mind apply logic to reject the illogical, even when the illogical is pressed upon you by the media, Hollywood or peer pressure?
  3. are you vulnerable to teasing, or can you "mock the mockery"?
  4. can you view yourself objectively, admit when you are wrong, and change towards what is advantageous?
  5. can you speak in front of a large hostile audience?
  6. do you have unexplained difficulties in social situations?
  7. do you dwell on things that are unchangeable and thus unproductive, such as the past?
  8. if someone insults you, for how long (in minutes or hours) will that bother you?
  9. is your mind strong enough to deny desires of your body, such as addictions or unhealthy food consumption?
  10. is your mind able to overcome irrational fears, such as fears of rejection, public speaking, public humiliation, failure, flying, heights, close quarters, big crowds, seeing doctors, and others?

One can score himself, and use the score to improve.


In public school, the primary approach to mental weakness is to prescribe medication, and that is the approach taken by many adults also. Liberal actor Heath Ledger, for example, was on anti-anxiety medications when he died of an overdose of drugs. But there other approaches available.

Christianity, for example, offers a combination of logic, faith, and willingness of self-sacrifice. Thomas Aquinas added mockery to the available tools that can be used.

Judaism has the precedent of Abraham's offer to sacrifice his beloved son.

Islam relies heavily on the concept of submission to a more powerful being, which implicitly incorporates elements of self-denial.