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My Transformative Prison Mindset

Fears of physical harm, the unknown, and losing one’s freedom can be overwhelming for most people

By Greg LindbergPublished about a year ago 4 min read
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I was sentenced to a potential 97 months in prison for a conviction that was, thankfully, later overturned. At the beginning, the length of my sentence was enough to make me lose hope. Giving up and becoming pessimistic seemed a likely outcome. In the end, however, an opposite effect occurred.

My new autobiography documents my time in prison and the life skills that helped me overcome the challenges I faced.

Conviction, Imprisonment, And Vindication

Before my conviction was overturned and I was released, my experience at the Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Alabama provided a unique opportunity to help both myself and others.

As well as janitorial work and library assistance, I taught business and entrepreneurship classes to my fellow inmates. To this day, I am still in touch with the friends I made there. And, after witnessing firsthand the deficiencies of the criminal justice system, I have made one of my life’s goals to combat those injustices.

My mission is to ensure fair sentencing, assist reentry, and ensure access to justice for all. By founding Interrogating Justice in 2020 as a nonprofit organization, I fulfilled a promise I made to my fellow prisoners to remember them and honor their plights and struggles.

How to Make the Most of the Worst Situations

To stay sane in prison, I had to develop several principles and characteristics. I discuss these principles and aspects in my book 633 Days Inside. Throughout my life, I have cultivated many successful traits and habits, but during my most significant life challenge, all my ideas were tested, developed, and ultimately strengthened. Ultimately, it came down to being resilient to adversity, channeling anger into productivity and, strangely enough, fasting.

Resilience In the Face of Adversity

Taking on adversity head-on is crucial to developing resilience. You either sink, or you swim. Adversity can be turned into an advantage with proper effort. Getting to the bottom of your hardship is the first step.

In business, I experienced the printing industry's mixed reaction to the digital revolution in the late 90s and early 2000s. My approach was an example of tackling change and challenges head-on.

At that time, everyone subscribed to print magazines and newsletters. As online content became more and more readily available, however, print and mail became more expensive. While some in the industry embraced the digital revolution, others fought against the change.

Many publishers circulated articles entitled 'Why Print Will Never Die' among themselves. They denied the appeal and the efficiency of digital. They never believed that, eventually, the communications landscape would drastically change.

The companies that spent time telling each other that print would never die have not fared well. So, what were the differences between companies that were successful and those that were not? The first characteristic of those who adapted was their leaders' willingness to face reality head-on and not fear trying and failing with many models, knowing that eventually one would win. Secondly, they had a culture of reality, as opposed to fixed beliefs.

Becoming Better, Not Bitter

I discuss how you can use anger and resentment to your advantage throughout my book. Both powerful forces can be used for positive outcomes when combined with the right mindset.

Irritation is a common experience in our lives. However, if you quickly convert your anger into productive activity, adversity can be used to your advantage. For example, it's natural to be angry whenever someone has treated you poorly, set you back, or caused you harm.

Most of us cannot avoid anger about such circumstances. Nevertheless, your ability to turn adversity to your advantage depends on how quickly you can turn anger into productive activity.

The strength, opportunity, and potential blessing of any challenge or perceived danger can be harnessed if we approach them with this attitude.

Insights Into the Power of Intermittent Fasting

My second triumph in prison was physical. I achieved strength, youthfulness, energy, and mental clarity through fasting. While intermittent fasting is currently in vogue, I went further. During my incarceration, I started with one day of fasting then, as I studied more about the science, I progressed to five uninterrupted days of fasting, with regular meals on the weekends. I am presently maintaining a weekly routine of four full days of fasting followed by a three-day feast. While not recommending this routine to anyone, I’ve found that it works for me.

In addition to the stress of my legal battles and incarceration, my life had already been disrupted for years. To reinvigorate and take better control of my life, I decided to do whatever it took. My research into intermittent fasting began at that time.

Research shows that ketone bodies (compounds produced by the liver to provide energy to the cells of the body) can stimulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is responsible for stimulating brain cell growth. These ketone energy molecules result from the breakdown of stored body fat

Since I began fasting, I've noticed a significant improvement in my memory, sleep quality, creativity, focus, and attention. There's no doubt fasting is one of the most challenging things I've ever done - but the incredible benefits far outweigh the required discipline and endured discomfort. I acknowledge, however, that I am not a medical professional. I simply know what worked for me. For others, before making drastic changes to one's diet and lifestyle, one should consult a physician.

With my book, I wanted to portray the importance of the human spirit when faced with adversity. My most important goal now is to empower others to develop the same practical optimism that I developed during my incarceration.

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About the Creator

Greg Lindberg

Greg Lindberg is the founder of Global Growth, an entrepreneur and author. He's able to identify what's valuable in any situation and leaning on it for growth. His most recent book is titled 633 Days Inside: Lessons on Life and Leadership.

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