Personal Development

Mental fitness: what it is and how to improve it

Learn how to boost your mental fitness using the Positive Intelligence method.

At Heights, we're all about keeping your brain healthy with our Vitals⁺ , but we want to help you get the most out of your mind and improve your mental fitness too.

In this article, experts Kristin Liu, Mahitab M. Marzouk, Javier Carbajo, and Sherif Ibrahim teach you how to train your brain using the Shirzad Chamine's Positive Intelligence method.

What is mental fitness and what are the 4 components?

Just like physical fitness, becoming mentally fit is about keeping your brain healthy, active, and resilient. If you work on this, you'll be better equipped to handle life's challenges with an optimistic mindset.

The concept is made up of four core components:

  1. Emotional: managing emotions, self-esteem, and resilience .

  2. Social: building strong connections and support networks. This helps combat loneliness .

  3. Financial: feeling in control of your finances and able to deal with money pressures.

  4. Physical: ability to reduce the risk of illness through sleep, diet, exercise and brain health.

Shizad Chamine, best selling author of Positive Intelligence , created the Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ) to measure how mentally fit you are. It calculates the percentage of time your mind serves you as opposed to sabotaging you.

The Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ)

Put simply, Chamine’s theory is a measure of the strength of your positive mental muscles (Sage) versus the negative (Saboteurs).

Your “Sage” lives in the region of your brain that handles challenges in ways that produce positive emotions like curiosity, empathy, creativity, calm, and clear-headed laser-focused action. It is the voice of authenticity and positive emotion.

Your “Saboteurs” undermine and self-sabotage you by triggering anger, shame, and any other negative emotions. They stop you from doing what you’re capable of doing.

So where there are 4 overarching components of mental fitness, in Chamine’s theory they can be broken down even more...

PQ: What are the components of mental fitness?

Let's meet the 10 'saboteurs' and 5 'sage' powers that make up your PQ.

The 10 'Saboteurs'

The Saboteurs sit in the limbic system (the right side of your brain) that creates fear, anger, and other negative feelings. These self-destructive clusters of behavior are not necessarily bad as their original purpose was to keep us safe. The Saboteurs provided the fight or flight responses we needed during our development.

1. The Judge: the Master Saboteur This is the universal Saboteur and affects everyone. It is a character that judges ourselves, others, circumstances, and situations. It is the one that beats you up repeatedly over mistakes or shortcomings.

2. Avoider

3. Controller

4. Hyper-Achiever

5. Hyper-Rational

6. Hyper-Vigilant

7. Pleaser

8. Restless

9. Stickler

10. Victim

Most of us don’t have all 10- click here to take the free assessment and meet your Saboteurs.

The 5 'Sage' powers

Your inner sage has five powers:

  1. to empathize

  2. to navigate

  3. to explore

  4. to innovate

  5. to activate.

In combination, these powers work to create a positive view of yourself and allow you to focus on what’s in front of you rather than worrying about what’s next.

Your inner Sage balances out your Saboteurs by seeing the positive in every negative. It looks for the gift in every challenge in order to reframe the thought process.

Controlling your Saboteurs

Shirzad Chamine’s program teaches you about the Saboteurs and how to take control of them. You learn about awareness in order to identify them, and mindfulness exercises to interrupt them.

One of the key aspects of the program is PQ Reps. These are short, powerful techniques to build up the self-command muscle in your brain. These exercises will teach you to be calm in the midst of challenges, and you’ll be able to develop command over your own mind in order to shift from Saboteur to Sage response.

  • Action plan: Instead of resenting your saboteurs, acknowledge that they’re there to protect you, and practice your PQ Reps . Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you do them, the easier and faster it will be to shift into the Sage response.

Mental fitness vs. meditation

Mental fitness training is more versatile as you can don’t have to do it for long. PQ Reps take anything from 10 seconds to 10 minutes to complete. Something as simple as three deep breaths is considered a PQ Rep.

You don’t need to be at home to do them- you can be anywhere! You can perform PQ Reps in the middle of a meeting, while you’re folding laundry, or even doing the dishes.

How does fitness help mental health?

Just as exercise helps boost your mental health , becoming more mentally fit can help improve how you feel. Shirzad Chamine’s MRI research found that practicing 12-15 minutes a day over 6-8 weeks:

  • Decreased grey matter in the “survival brain” region, where your Saboteurs live.

  • Increased grey matter in the PQ brain region, where your Sage lives.

His studies found that PQ reps helped encourage positive emotions.


Know your own mind?

The average brain health score is 51/100. Take our 3-minute quiz to learn how yours measures up and how to boost it.

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