The Struggle Alone Pleases Us, Not the Victory

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Back when I was in high-school, during one of my kickboxing practices, I had to act as a sparring partner for a few weeks to one of the best fighters in the country. 

It was the most humiliating and excruciating experience in my life. There’s no other way to put it. There was nothing I could do to even touch the guy, let alone beat him.

Yet, even though I consistently got beat, my skills improved considerably. When I look back at the four years I spent as a fighter, I often remember that one time I got a lucky jab at him or when he broke my nose. 

Quentin Tarantino once compared our work towards progress as running a race. 

If we run against people who are slower than us, yes, we win, but if we race against people who are much faster, we’ll come last every single time, but our time will be much better.

We live in a society that loves winning. 

Winning is the only thing. The desire to be first. To be the best there is. 

There are some victories that are impossible. Sometimes, a good defeat is its own reward. Sometimes, the best we can do is fight an impossible battle and manage not to lose it.

Having to fight against someone with far superior skills would provide me with the kind of mental clarity and focus that made me be so present in the moment that everything was moving in slow-motion. 

If I wasn’t careful, I’d find myself on the floor, trying to figure out what day of the week it was.

I couldn’t win, but I still struggled. And I enjoyed it so, so much.

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The 40% Rule: Get Rich, Get Fit, Become Successful With This Simple Rule

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I don’t know you, but I know this about you: like all of us, you have one goal you’re struggling to achieve. Maybe it’s a business venture, maybe it’s turning a passion into a source of income, maybe it’s your desire to get in better shape.

What usually happens is this: you begin to feel tired. Maybe exhausted is the better word to describe what you’re feeling.

What if the problem isn’t how much you’re trying to get done, but rather your mindset?

And this is how the 40% rule can help you achieve all your goals.

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What’s the Opposite of Loneliness?

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Loneliness, defined as an unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. The key word here is perceived.

Loneliness, defined as social pain — a simple mechanism that forces us to seek others. The key word here is pain.

A perceived pain, for even one who is surrounded by others might end up feeling lonely. Some might say that’s what real loneliness actually is: feeling alone when you are, in fact, surrounded by others.

Today, when we’re all connected via invisible waves of technology, there are but two great tragedies: one is to be lonely alone, the other is to be lonely among others.

I often wonder which is the selfish option of the two?

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20 Lessons I Learned From Making a Lot of Mistakes in My Twenties

Experience is what we are left with after we make mistakes

I am fast approaching 30.

Three decades of making mistakes, being broke, depressed, lonely, anxious, feeling guilty, powerless, hopeless.

Three decades of trying to conquer the world, trying to conquer myself, trying to change the world, or just those closest to me.

I’ve lost my way more times than I can count. I’ve failed, time and time again. I’ve tried my best, from time to time. I’ve cried, I’ve won, I’ve lost.

To be 30 means that my view of the world should have crystallized by now. Well, I still have almost six months to figure things out, but I can certainly say that wasting my twenties was one of the best decisions I have ever made without thinking too much.

Consider the following rules as me sharing what took me most of my twenties to figure out.

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Your Feet on The Ground, Your Eyes on The Stars: Achieving The Impossible

Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash

“Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood.” — Terrence McKenna

You are probably familiar with the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

We use it to justify the idea that one must focus on one thing, reach mastery, as this is the only way towards success and fulfillment.

As most simple truths in life, we use it because we don’t want to use precious mental energy in trying to understand the nuanced truths of success and mastery.

The nuanced point is that even the notorious specialists, such as Salvador Dali or Pablo Picasso, were masters of a multitude of skills and crafts, not the least of which is their charisma and their ability to market themselves.

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The Not-So Subtle Art of Being Yourself

Photo by chester wade on Unsplash

“the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it — basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
Charles Bukowski

Even as a child, Muhammad Ali took great pleasure in being different than the rest of his peers. He did so not because he was a rebel without a cause, but he certainly did it for the applause.

His defiance of the rules became most apparent when he began to train as a boxer. He refused to fight in the usual way, instead developing a style that would compliment his speed and agility. It was frustrating to try to punch Ali, as he kept dancing around the ring.

A few years later, he’d both irritate and confuse his opponents with his bold statements. After all, what could a fellow boxer expect from a man who claimed he was so fast that he could turn off the light switch in his room and be in bed before the room would be covered in darkness?

As children, we are often taught by our teachers and elders that there’s a certain way of doing things. There are rules and laws and norms that must be obeyed, unless we want to be ridiculed or even marginalized by others.

What we aren’t told, however, is the fact that a strong sense of self is the by-product of doing things our own way, the side-effect of ignoring the rules and venturing within ourselves for our own definitions of who we are and what we’re capable of.

The price of conformity is often a life of predictable boredom.

The price of independence is a life of introspection, constant struggle, and backbreaking work towards self-growth.

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The Beauty of Doing What You Can With What You Have

Some five hundred years ago, a 26 year old sculptor was given the task of turning a leftover slab of marble into a work of art. Other artists had tried to give life to the stone and had failed, but the young artist took on the contract, determined to shape the marble that others had discarded.

Early in the morning on September 13, 1501, the artist began to work in order to extract his vision from the piece of stone. He carved and carved until he set his dream free.

Later, artist Giorgio Vasari would describe the process as, “bringing back to life of one who was dead.”

In June 1504, the statue, a depiction of the Biblical character David of epic proportions, was installed at the entrance of the city’s town hall. The name of the artist? Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known best as Michelangelo.

This story serves as a reminder that we are often wrong in assuming that in order to become successful we need access to resources.

It is quite the contrary. It is not the resources at our disposal that determine our success, but rather our resourcefulness, our ability to be creative in spite of certain limitations and setbacks.

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Little by Little, a Little Becomes a Lot

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Some two and a half millennia ago, in what is now Southern Italy, there lived a legendary wrestler by the name of Milo of Croton.

A six-time Olimpic Champion, Milo’s career spanned over 24 years, during which he was undoubtedly the best wrestler of his generation. He is said to have been able to carry a bull on his shoulders and to have burst a band about his brow by simply inflating the veins on his temples.

But what can this ancient wrestler teach us about success?

Quite a lot, as it turns out…

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The Map Is Not the Territory

You’re not who you think you are. You’re not who they think you are, you’re not who the ones you love need you to be, you’re not even who you think you have to be for the ones you love.

Who you are is a bit of all that, but so much more.

Your not what you have, or what you do, you’re not what you worship. You’re not the words you use, or your actions, and you’re certainly not the consequences of those actions.

You are not your habits, your dreams, your goals, or the story you tell yourself about how you ended up where you’re at.

You’re not the mood you’re in right now, or the one you’ll be in two hours from now. You are not the tears you cry, or the laughs, or the moments of doubt.

You’re not your country, or your race, or your gender.

You’re neither where you’ve been, nor where you’re going. You are neither your successes, nor your excuses. You’re not the money you have in your bank account, you’re not even the money you have spent until now.

You are not the memories you cherish, nor the ones you hate to remember. You are not the aspects of you that you’ve hidden inside the drawers of your soul, nor the parts of you that you show even to a perfect strange you meet on a summer afternoon.

The map is not the territory.

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What Do You Worship?

In the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” — David Foster Wallace

In his famous commencement speech given at Kenyon College in 2005, David Foster Wallace shared with us a few simple, yet valuable insights that could very well form the foundation of someone’s daily philosophy on life.

Near the end of his speech, however, Wallace makes his most daring claim: we all worship. He talks about money, power, beauty, and intellect as false idols worshiped by our unconscious collective obsession with making sense of what we don’t understand.

In a way, we are all inclined to worship what we can’t quite define.

We don’t understand why someone’s beautiful, or why someone’s amassed incredible wealth. We call those who are intelligent as, gifted.

Who offered them this gift and why?

Worshiping is our way of trying to find order in an inherently chaotic universe.

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