I am always hesitant to write something that has the overt intention of providing motivation or inspiration, as I know that the best motivation that we can receive from others is to see a life lived to it’s fullest potential. Words can feel hollow and I often find myself reading ‘motivational’ articles or lists for the sake of feeling better about myself for having read them.
My intention is to share with you a few lessons or principles that have been revealed to me recently whether through things I have read, listened to, or discussed with friends. It is not meant to be motivational, but simply as a compilation of a few things for you to ponder, experiment with, and perhaps apply to your own life.
Life is a Game
The fact of the matter is that the decisions we make and actions, or lack thereof, have an impact on our lives. This is a very obvious statement but one that I think a lot of people overlook. We choose the things that we want to invest our focus and time into so that we can gain certain commodities or things which we value. We may not have complete control over everything that happens to us, but e as Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl eloquently stated: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” The common theme amongst all games is that there is something resisting ones progress. It is the same resistance that we face everyday when we are struggling to a far off goal. This is why when a running back stiff arms a would be tackler and powers towards the goal line, or when a hockey player dekes past an opponent and leaves the goalie looking for his jockstrap, we are transfixed to the TV. It is a picture of what we are trying to do in our own lives. We are trying to break past the resistance that we push against every day.
When we watch sports we are intrigued by this struggle. There is no one strategy that works to defeat resistance other than being persistent and tenacious. This tenacity is displayed when we see athletes who have very few genetic gifts but who put in more work than anyone else to get to where they are. If you don’t have all the skill in the world don’t be afraid to be the grinder, the one who puts in more work than everyone else, the one who day after day, year after year struggles towards his or her goal.
Believe in Yourself
I know that this sounds corny and I am slightly embarrassed that I am writing this but really believing in yourself is the most important thing that you can do to improve your life right now. Now I’m not talking about the empty motivation that is offered on classroom posters and from insincere well wishers. I’m talking about having strong confidence in your abilities to achieve any task that you set before yourself. Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi said that ‘In life it is not necessarily important to be strong but to feel strong’. I found this interesting because when we train we’re constantly trying to make ourselves stronger, bigger or faster. Our progress can be tangibly tracked through the amount of weight we can lift or how much muscle we have gained.
While it is important to see tangible physical results you should also ask yourself “how strong do I feel?” How do you feel about your relationships with your friends and family? How do you feel about the direction that your career or occupation is headed? How you feel about yourself will determine how you act towards others, it will determine what opportunities you notice coming your way and which ones you have the strength to take on. So even if you feel depressed or weak or broken, act as if you are not. Act as if you are strong and you will be just that.
Be the Hero of your Story
I have recently been listening to Joe Rogans podcast, which at times can be crass and asinine, but which also contains nuggets of wisdom that can truly be life changing. One thing that he said changed his life was the idea of being the hero of your story. Personally, I love being able to watch a movie and imagine myself as the hero. John Wayne encapsulates the true hero as he is brave, honest, loyal and just a plain badass. We feel drawn to these heroic characters because we can draw comparisons from the heroes virtues to our own. We want to be strong, courageous, and brave and when we see someone acting on those virtues it is enthralling. However, we also end up seeing ourselves in the actions of villains or weak and cowardly characters in movies. We can see the same character traits in ourselves. We can feel the brokeness inside of ourselves and it is not a good feeling. I know that I am not alone in this realization. We all should be aware that we have the elements of a hero and a villain inside of ourselves. It is up to us which one we nurture and act on.
Every morning wake up with a mission that needs to get done. Even if you’re down in the dumps and struggling that just makes your ascension to greatness even better. No one is inspired by someone who has had everything handed to him/her, so this story is about you overcoming obstacles and persevering despite others not believing in you. Make your story exciting, make it empowering and inspirational, make it sad at times and joyous at others, but most of all make sure that you are the goddamn hero and do some badass shit now and then.