By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
How we think makes all the difference. The way we position ourselves in the world makes a difference. The words we use makes a difference. If that makes the difference and offers the biggest returns, isn't that where we should focus our attention?
We over-think instead of thinking efficiently and effectively. We're busy but we aren't productive.
Before I ever threw a punch or a kick in martial arts class, my teacher explained to me why I was doing everything. Why I bowed, why I took off my shoes, why I should punch this way, why I should kick that way, why someone may attack me, why I may need to defend myself and others, why I needed to think a certain way.
Most of all, why any of this mattered...
If no one ever explained it to me, I may have quit. Instead I have kept a faithful practice in martial arts since I was six years old. And still maintain training 5-6 times a week.
The Big Why
Even as a child, if someone told you to do something, you wanted to know why. Knowing why is the basis of survival: when resources and supplies were limited, we needed to know why we were doing things, the purpose, so we could figure out if it helped in our overall survival. If not, wasting time and resources for that effort could mean life or death for you and your tribe. And if you keep the village alive, it feels like your life serves a purpose. In return the village helps you live longer.
"Be like water my friend."
— Bruce Lee
The most common mistake is when people attempt to start things without knowing why they should or why they should even care. They think about some goal, something they want. Goals are the expressions of purpose. They can change, be flexible, have different deadlines, but are always second to purpose. Much like a river, it can bend, fork, maneuver, change, but why it exists is to meet the ocean.
To survive, one must be responsive.
What you think, you become
My thoughts create my actions. If I always thought "try," instead of "doing" or "not doing," my life would become subjective and less meaningful, full of fear and doubt.
Our words and thoughts can be indicative or subjunctive. Meaning words can be indicative of their actions -- or be more existential, subjective, wishful, and be used to imagine outcomes instead of actively trying to pursue outcomes.
"Do or do not. There is no try."
You need both. That takes control. To use the example of the Jedi (who were just examples of martial arts wise men), the Jedi were about the control over their minds and their words. Yoda only spoke in the indicative. Trying means hoping, doing means doing.
Many people have ample motivation, what they lack is control. The ability to turn motivation into anything lasting and meaningful.
It needs to be a unified front. Either every aspect of your life is going to improve or it's not. Whatever weak links you may have, will synergistically affect everything else. People make the mistake of thinking they just want to look better or become richer, what they really want is to be a better version of themselves and value themselves more.
What is mastery?
Goalless practice. To practice with purpose.
Two identical twins start karate. One has a goal to get a black belt. One's purpose is to get better every day, to become a master. Who'll get better every day? Who'll get their black belt first? Who'll keep going after their black belt? Who'll always win in sparring? Who will quit in a short amount of time and talk about the good old days when they used to train karate? It's a skill, it's not innate, it's not something some of us are born with and others aren't. Practice is about the honing of those skills. Do you practice your ability to overcome conflict and adversity? If not there is no other option then for adversity to overwhelm you.
How you think about it will affect every other choice that you make. This applies to weight loss, to business, to living life to its maximal capacity .
Judge the action, not the self
We tend to find motivation through value judgments of the self. For example: you're good, you're bad, you're smart, you're a genius, you're amazing, you're a loser, you suck. Obviously if it's flattering, we don't consider it a judgement, we consider it a compliment or a truth. Only when it's negative do we consider it a judgement but they both work to create temporary motivation. One can create an emotional high, the other can be seen as a challenge or we want to succeed out of spite, but it can only last so long. This is not the same as giving objective feedback or affecting real change.
These methods are not self sustaining and always require constant external stimuli. Someone cheerleading or barking at us. It takes the focus off of things we do, and puts the focus on ourselves. Productivity is about actions, the focus should be on the actions we take or don't take, not on ourselves. What you did was brilliant vs you are brilliant. Thinking we are the ones being judged creates high anxiety, expectations, a fear of failure, and a constant comparison of who we are vs who we think we ought to be. It destroys resilience.
Still that's subjective judgement rather than objective observation. Use the language of productivity. It keeps the focus on action, on producing, and thriving. What you did was effective vs you are brilliant. Being called brilliant is nice to hear, being called an idiot not so nice to hear, but neither gives us any direction. Productive, not productive, effective, not effective, optimal, less than optimal, this method of evaluation gives us a roadmap to improve our methods. A further path to mastery, a better path to learning.
Comfort is seductive
If all we do is chase comfort, what need do you have to change? Then meaning and happiness becomes difficult and far off goals. Not a process. Important things in life aren't always pleasurable or exciting, but we do them because it's meaningful and it makes us happy. Like school, career, family, relationships, causes, charities, etc.
Babies make weird faces, fall over, make strange noises, try to touch everything, hurt themselves, things that aren't always pleasurable. If they didn't, they wouldn't be developing. That's their one job in life, to develop as a human being. That is not always comfortable or pleasurable, but it's meaningful. Developing ourselves is still our job.
This is why in Star Wars, when they speak about the Dark Side, they're really talking about the seductive nature of the path of comfort, the easier selfish path, the destructive path.
Keep yourself informed
Everything is information, even food. What is it telling you? Are you giving yourself the right information to be at your peak? A martial artist can beat a bigger person not because they are stronger but because they are more efficient. Improve yourself mentally, physically, financially, educationally, socially, and maximize happiness and meaning.
Eventually there are no more books, outlines, brainstorms, mantras, meditations, or resolutions. You need guidance but only you can do the work. It can't be done for you.
“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”
― Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy
Source: Must Triumph
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