Well my last post ended up proving to be more profound than I first thought. So I thought it would be a good idea to continue on with one of the important themes from that. Being the idea of having an internal purpose. Two reasons why I want to expand on that. First, I have just finished reading the book that The Way of the Peaceful Warrior movie was based on. And it was probably the most incredible book I’ve read to date. Second, I guess I’d like to provide a little more insight into what having an inner purpose really means, where it may come from and, through things I’ve learned through that book, how to apply it across your entire life, so that every day you are not only motivated, but happy. Because happiness is really the secret to life. And the key to complete happiness is inside you, and it always has been.
The majority of people are trying to find this key in everything but themselves. They look in their job, they look in their partners, they look in their achievements, their wealth, their kids, even their workouts themselves. Their external surroundings. You hear it all the time, and you probably say the same thing yourself. After watching the movie and the reading the book, I’ve come to realize that happiness is a choice you make, despite anything going on around you. Now I can tell you’re probably thinking ‘but bad things happen, I got fired, I can’t find a great partner, I’m in debt’ etc etc. But when you think of things like a promotion, new job, a great wife, you think happiness don’t you? And that is the fundamental problem – we as humans, label things good or bad, right or wrong. I’ve realised I probably cannot do justice to the experience learned from this book in one blog post, but I will try to highlight some key points and apply to the intrinsic purpose.
One of the overall points the hero of the book had to learn was that a warrior takes action. The master says ‘the warriors acts, the fool only reacts’. It is through action that the warrior finds happiness. And that term also means the action of choosing to be happy. Now, to apply this to your intrinsic purpose, I’ll try making a comparison to the reactive fool and the active warrior. The fool will react to social cues such as ‘you’re overweight’ ‘Ryan Gosling is soooo sexy why can’t you have a body like his’ and so on. So, they react by going on a diet, working out, getting fit and all the rest. They really give it their all, idealizing this outside influence a la carrot and the donkey. But it generally doesn’t last. They are trying to live up to external ideals, that may not even be synchronized with what they really want. And so it is very easy for them to give up, saying things like ‘I’m okay with my weight’ ‘I can’t possibly look like Ryan Gosling’. And the cycle can often repeat.
Now, in comparison, the warrior will act for no other reason than the action itself. The choice of action reflects the warriors inner purpose. For example, Dan in Peaceful Warrior is a gymnast. In the beginning, he explains to Socrates (Soc) how hard he trains to try making the Olympics and that is his dream. Soc, in the movie adaptation, in very few words breaks him down. Dan says, in a very assertive and domineering voice – ‘I train 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year’.
Soc: ‘Why so much?’
Dan: ‘Are you serious? I’m a heartbeat from making the qualifiers’
‘Qualifiers for what?’
Dan (Smugly): ‘Well, you ever watch the Olympics?’
‘Nope’. And that was it
Well, you’re probably thinking who cares if he doesn’t watch the Olympics because millions of people do. But the actual lesson is profound.
Dan was using these outside influences to motivate and give purpose to his training. He was ‘chasing gold’. But it is all an illusion, those things cannot really bring you happiness, and it’s the act itself that brings you real happiness. What happens when you receive your gold medal? That single moment in time is quickly passed by and can then make you feel empty inside. Try applying this to yourself now. Think back to any achievement you received an award or trophy for, even grab that trophy and feel it in your hands. How do you feel? Does it make you feel happy inside? Do you feel like your now doing what it was you won the trophy for? My guess is it doesn’t really bring any feeling to you. In the end, it’s a piece of metal.
In Dan’s case he naturally loved gymnastics so the act of doing is all that is really necessary. Once he realized this, his training evolved. He devoted, and I now follow this principle, each training session to the act of training for training alone. It wasn’t focused on winning a prize or making the qualifiers. Because these external forces are beyond your control and will come and go. However training, in whatever it is you choose it to be, exists every single time you do it. It cannot be taken away from you any more then it can be given to you. It is you. This can apply to any single thing you do in your life, and in this case, to properly apply it to your workouts, you need to shift your focus from any external motivation and look inside you for the reason.
For myself, I love Futsal. And as a player, I have finally evolved the way I play in an incredible way, because I now play for the sake of playing itself. It doesn’t matter to me if we win or lose, doesn’t matter if the ref makes bad calls or I get injured. Where not so long ago I would get angry or try to start fights very frequently. But none of that makes a difference now. As long as I’m playing (playing is most certainly a form of training) I’m at peace, and I will choose to be happy no matter what happens. So I want you try this in your own life. Think of something you like to do, be it sport, a hobby, work, whatever it is. Break it down. Do you do it because you want to win, because you want money, because you want fame? If so, try to step back and think why you actually enjoy doing it. Doing this you will surely learn whether you are doing something because you genuinely enjoy it or if you are really only doing it for some reward or recognition. If the former, try to forget any result and enjoy each time you are doing it for doing it alone. I guarantee you will not only find happiness in doing it, you may also find that you end up achieving more than when you were focused on just that.