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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

navy seals, mindfulness, buds
Photo: National Archive

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and objective. But the SEALs add objectivity to their practice.

Today, we’d like to share a strategy that will help you be more objective. Being objective means you are able think rationally and control your emotions instead of being controlled by them.

We call this strategy: Reporting the News.

How Navy SEALs Use “Reporting the News” to Navigate Adversity

Surf Torture & Perspective

During the second week of SEAL training, the instructors woke us up in the middle of the night and ordered us into the ocean for an evolution known as surf torture. You link arms with your classmates and lie down in the ocean in knee-deep water. You just lie there in the dark, freezing water while the waves and sand feel like they’re drowning you.

It was a frigid winter night and people started quitting right away. So many people were leaving the water to quit that there was a line to ring the bell (in SEAL training, you must ring a big brass bell when you quit).

Seeing all these people quit started to make me panic. The cold seemed unbearable. I’d never been half this cold before. How was I going to be able to do this for six more months until graduation?

A Wake-up Call for one Navy SEAL

As I began having what felt like a panic attack, an instructor walked over, knelt beside me, and said, “To accomplish your life’s biggest dream, you need to sit in some cold water for a few minutes. Is that really such a big fu***** deal?”

That snapped me right out of my negativity. When he phrased it like that, quitting seemed like the most ludicrous decision in the world. I wanted to be a SEAL more than anything. And I was thinking of giving all that up because I had to sit in some cold water? That’s moronic.

This story reveals a powerful lesson: When we’re going through adversity, it feels like the biggest deal in the world in that moment. The obstacle feels brutal, daunting, and Everest-like. And because the obstacle feels that way, we become stressed, anxious, and frustrated. 

However, if we can shift from subjective, emotion-based thinking to objective, fact-based thinking, those negative beliefs and feelings will often immediately melt away.

One of the best strategies we’ve found to switch from subjective to objective thinking is to pretend you’re a news anchor and narrate what you’re going through.

Here’s an example:

Perhaps you’re hosting some people for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s the morning of, and you still need to buy and cook the food, set the table, and get dressed. As a result of this to-do list, you are completely stressed out and in a frenzy. “There’s so much to do!” Your body is coursing with cortisol, and your mind is racing thinking about whether you can get everything done in time.

What if a news anchor was telling the world about what’s happening?

“Breaking news from New Jersey. Today, a husband and wife went to the grocery store, bought a ham, cooked the ham, and—you won’t believe this, ladies and gentlemen—they also managed to get dressed while doing all of that! Incredible. A truly inspiring story of defeating the odds and never giving up!”

As a viewer of that news bulletin, you’d be thinking, “What the hell!? How is that news? Someone bought a ham, cooked a ham, and got dressed? That’s the lamest story I’ve ever heard!”

And you’d be right. Is it really such a Herculean feat to buy food, cook it, put in on the table, and get dressed all in one day! I mean, when you detach, step back, and think about it, it’s not exactly the kind of legendary story one passes down through the generations or makes movies about.

Final Thoughts From a Navy SEAL

When you’re in the thick of it, every challenge seems enormous. That’s because you’ve lost an accurate sense of proportion due to thinking subjectively and letting your emotions control your perspective. Going forward, when you start to spin out and get stressed out and anxious over a challenge you’re dealing with, pretend to be a newscaster and just matter-of-factly state what you’re doing. This puts things in perspective and immediately—and usually humorously—makes clear that maybe this challenge that was causing you so much consternation isn’t really such an enormous deal.

Onward.

Trident Mindset is a mental health and mental toughness training program created by Navy SEALs, intelligence operatives, and neuroscientists that teaches proven tactics for reducing stress, increasing happiness, and thriving during adversity. We believe the quality of your mindset determines the quality of your life. Our mission is to teach you to master your mindset so you can live your happiest life.

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