10 Tips For Tough Times
I sat down to write a completely different blog post today. My plan was to catch you up on all of the stuff I’ve been doing to fulfill my duty as your “People’s Nutrition Educator” – researching for and speaking at nutrition conferences, doing interviews and podcasts, etc.
I promise to do that soon, because I have a ton of outlines, notes, and research quotes that I think you’ll find interesting and informative.
But alas, that must wait. There are more important issues we must talk about today. Not often, but every once in a while, I like to talk about things that are more thought provoking (and probably more helpful to you) than protein grams and 6-packs.
This is going to be a long, philosophical, free-flowing rant. So if you’re just following this blog for da fitness shit, you might want to skip it today. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled, vanity-driven programming next time.
*Warning — the following ended up being way too long of an intro about why I wrote this blog post. If you just want the barebones strategies — scroll down a little. For your viewing pleasure I numbered them.
Don’t Waste Your Life Wishing You Were Someone Else
I got an email last week, and it is something I just can’t get out of my frickin’ head. Its been bothering me all week. Until I address it, I won’t be able to get on with the rest of it (meaning the fitness bullshit).
Because of how personal it was, I ain’t gonna share it word-for-word. I’ll just paraphrase it. It went a little something like this:
Nate, I hate my life. I feel even worse about how bad it sucks when I see how great your life seems to be. I see pictures of you online looking lean, having a good time with your family and friends, succeeding in your career, and doing all kinds of cool stuff. It makes me feel like crap. I wish I could trade spots with you. Please help.
Dude, I know some online people crave getting emails like this. They love feeling like pseudo-celebrities and like they are cooler, smarter, and better than everyone else.
I fucking hate it man.
Now of course I could project a totally false image and say, “Yeah, I’m The Miyaki, and I’m awesome (for you pro wrestling fans, think The Miz). I got everything figured out, and if you want to be as cool as me, just buy my secret life-hacking tips.”
But that would be total bullshit man.
I’ll do that for the fitness stuff because you should have to pay for your vanity, as I have paid for mine. And I gotta make a living somehow. But I just can’t bring myself to roll like that for the more important stuff like this.
Now I responded to this person personally. Yes I went to Berkeley and know that is not correct English. Fuck the grammar police.
The rest of this post is for those of you who may be going through some tough times.
First off, and most importantly – dude, you only get one life. Don’t fucking waste it wishing you were, or trying to be, someone else. That’s about as meaningless as it gets my friend.
Second, I’ve worked with uber-rich, ultra successful, super fit, smoking hot, somewhat famous people, or whatever other trait you think you are lacking, or think you need to attain to magically solve all of your life’s problems and be happy.
Trust me, once you get through that initial layer of projecting a perfect image to the outside world, you see that most of them are just as fucked up as you or I. We all got our problems and struggles man, that I can definitely guarantee you.
There’s not that much that you truly need in this world to be happy. I say keep that list small, short, and simple. If you are reading this on your personal laptop, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you already have everything you need to be happy.
Now I’m no hypocrite. And I’m definitely no monk. I’m just as vain, selfish, and greedy as everyone else. I’m trying to get ultra rich and super ripped too. But if you can keep what you need simple, you can work towards getting what you want without all of the worry, stress, anxiety, burn-out, jealousy, and “dickheadedness” that has become the new social norm.
*Warning #2 — By the way, I’m in no way qualified to give you life advice. I’m just an athlete, part-time writer, and trainer who has worked with a lot of people. I guess you could say I’ve picked up some “street psychology”. I don’t have mystical powers, and can’t see the future as some of these life coaches and gurus proclaim. These are just my opinions. Don’t bet the farm on them. I could be way off.
Facebook Fantasy Land vs. Real Life
One more thing. If me posting up stuff on social media somehow makes you feel bad about yourself, I sincerely apologize. I read somewhere that social media makes people unhappier overall because we all just post up pictures and updates of ourselves in our best moments – in great shape, traveling, doing fun, exciting, and cool shit.
We see the best snapshots and highlights of people’s lives, but not the entire story, and start to think everyone has it so much better than us. We are filled with jealousy, and start to believe our own lives are somehow lacking.
Dude I post up physique pictures of myself throughout the year as proof that I practice what I preach and that my nutrition approach can work as a long-term lifestyle plan. There’s a lot of Internet marketing bullshit out there, so I just want people to see that The Feast is the real deal (at least for me, and some of the people I’ve helped).
Its not because I think you actually give a shit about me, or to make you feel bad about where you might be at.
And obviously I’m no frickin’ Mr. Universe. I don’t have great genetics, and I have clients that are in better shape than me. The goal is to give you some confidence that the plan can work for average folks (like me), so you will ultimately get motivated to go out, apply it, and get great results yourself.
And in all honesty, I’ve had a 6-pack for close to a decade now. It doesn’t change your life. It doesn’t mean shit in the real world, or in the grand scheme of things. It might make you a few pennies, but it won’t make you happy if you’re not already happy. It’s like designer jeans man. It looks good, but it won’t change your life.
As for the rest of the stuff I post, yeah, I dig my life and da people in it. I’d rather post up when we’re letting da good times roll than drag you down with my problems. Who wants to hear someone fucking complaining all the time? All our lives are hard enough. You don’t need to be concerned with my bullshit in addition to your own.
But I’m perfectly happy to be an open book and tell you the full story if that makes you feel better about your own struggles. Despite what Facebook may make you feel like, no one’s life is a Sportscenter Top Ten Highlight reel. There are a lot of ups and downs and struggles along the way for everyone.
Its like my boy Blue, I mean Bruce Lee once said: No matter what some people will say, barriers are not the experience of any one person, or any one group of persons. They are the universal experience.
Blue had some good quotes too, “Just ring the fucking bell you pansy“.
Me? In all actuality, the last 2 years of my life have kind of sucked. Let me flip the script on you and give you the Facebitch lowlights:
- My dad — and what made it harder was the fact that he had become my best friend – passed away after battling cancer for 4 years.
- My mom had a stroke and died 4 months later. Ol’ Patty Hourigan was a crazy Irish lady, but I miss her way more than I thought I would. Guess its one of those “you don’t know what you got til its gone” kind of things.
- Kalai’s brother and dad passed away in that time frame too. Death has not been too kind to our crew over the last few moons.
- Someone very close to me is losing his battle with meth addiction no matter what we try and do. His addiction’s killing him, but to watch him is killing me. In fact, addiction has been a lifelong nemesis within my circle.
- I’ve dealt with boredom, frustration, roadblocks, questions, bad moves, things not quite working out as expected, lack of fulfillment, contemplated a complete change, and so forth in my career, seemingly just like everyone else I know.
- I had to drop a deuce in a port-o-pottie, which for those who know me closely know that was a very traumatic event that I’m still recovering from.
You don’t want my life any more than I want yours my friend. Trust me. But what I hope I can share with you is a little bit of my mindset. Some of the philosophies I’ve studied have given me tools with which to get through tough times. They’ve given me lenses (but since I’m a beach dude, we’ll call them a nice pair of shades) through which to look at whatever comes in life, and roll with it all, most of the time with a smile.
Honestly, I don’t think I would have made it through the last few years without some of these strategies.
If you think this is hippie bullshit, I understand. I once thought that to. I still do sometimes. But at least I’m not going to ask you to take off your clothes and come chant and sing Kumbaya in the mountains with me (unless you want to, and if that’s the case, I’m in).
I’m not down with such modern trends of gurus, cults, dogmas, mystical retreats, good thinkers’ poses, and offices with many leather bound books and that smell of rich mahogany (know that reference?), and so forth.
Hey, whatever helps you is cool with me. But myself? The only thing that has ever helped me are simple and straightforward strategies that I can apply, without the bullshit.
If you’re struggling, I hope these tips help you, as they once did (and continue to do so) for me. Use ‘em or ridicule ‘em as you see fit; it’s no sweat off my sack either way.
1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else.
All I can tell you is that you cannot make choices in your own career trying to downplay or live up to a comparison with somebody else. You just can’t do that. You have to do your own work based on your own gut, your own instincts, and your own life. — Brandon Lee.
When I look around, I always learn something and that is to be always yourself. And to express yourself. To have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. – Bruce Lee.
Keeping up with the Joneses (who are these mysterious Jones people anyways? I know who the Kardashians are, and I WOULD like to keep up with one or three of them), constantly comparing yourself to everyone around you, seeing what they got and what you do not, trying to follow someone else’s path, etc., are all a one-way ticket to jealousy, with the final destination being misery.
Trust me man, someone always is going to have it better than you, and have more than you, no matter what you do. At the same time, there are always people who have it way worse than you.
Who gives a shit? Worrying about where you stack up doesn’t change where you are actually at in life. And envy won’t change your situation. Only action will.
Focus on where YOU are at now, and an immediate step YOU can take to get better. Then go out, do it, and be done with it.
2. Meditate on Death to Appreciate Life in Every Breath.
But then I come to this place of my ancestors, and I remember. Like these blossoms, we are all dying. To know life in every breath, every cup of tea, every life we take. The way of the warrior…That is Bushido. – Katsumoto, The Last Samurai
The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings. He knows that he is going to die, and he has nothing left to hold onto: no illusions in his mind, no resistances in his body. He doesn’t think about his actions; they flow from the core of his being. He holds nothing back from life; therefore he is ready for death, as a man is ready for sleep after a good day’s work. – Tao Te Ching.
This is not meant to be one of those abstract, mystical, life coach trademarked sayings where intellectuals, pontificators, and cult followers sit around circle jerking about how profound and insightful the idea is, and then sell T-shirts with the slogan on it.
Do this. Literally. Every day. Nothing could be more simple and straightforward. It will change your perspective forever.
What if you knew for sure you were going to die today?
Yeah man, the rest of the shit we normally complain about doesn’t seem that bad does it. Your I-phone is acting up? Someone said something bad about you? Work sucks. You’re struggling a little in your career or personal life? Dude, it could be way worse.
You’ll soon realize what is a catastrophe and what are merely inconveniences in your life. 99% are inconveniences, although we treat them as otherwise.
As some samurai once said – all misfortune springs from not keeping death always in your thoughts (or thinking you are going to live forever).
3. Live with an Attitude of Gratitude
If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart, you will endure forever. – Tao Te Ching
Fame or integrity: which is more important? Money or happiness: which is more valuable? Success or failure: which is more destructive? If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Tao Te Ching
I don’t know man, if you’re reading this on a computer screen, found it through Facebook or Twitter sipping on gourmet coffee or a Red Bull, etc., you ain’t doing that fucking bad right? Why don’t you take a moment to appreciate what you got, instead of always complaining about your situation and bitching about what you don’t?
There are people in this world who wake up to bombs, don’t have clean water, and go to bed starving. Be grateful for what you got while you are trying to get more you selfish bastard.
4. Practice Kaizen
Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending. — Hagakure.
Yagyu once said, “I know nothing about how to win over others. I only know the way to win over myself.” Your life is something you build every day. You must convince yourself that you have surpassed yesterday. And tomorrow you must feel that you have surpassed today. In this way there is no end to your mastery. – Bushido
Top of the mountain or down in the dumps – what does it really matter where you are at today? Life’s not a race, and its not some graded, standardized test.
How do you get through tough times, or reach the top of the mountain if things are already rolling for you? The answer is the same. Simply put one foot in front of the other and keep walking on every day, regardless of the circumstances.
Or, like I said above, you can sit and bitch (and get nowhere).
5. Stop Giving a Shit About What People Think About You.
Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make. – Bruce Lee
As we know, gung-fu is aiming at self-cultivation, and the inner self is one’s true self. So in order to realize his true self a gung fu man lives without being dependent upon the opinion of others. Since he is completely self-sufficient he can have no fear of not being esteemed. A gung fu man devotes himself to being self-sufficient and never depends upon the external rating by others for his happiness. – Bruce Lee, Artist of Life
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. – Tao Te Ching
Everything matters if you care about what people think of you. Nothing really matters if you don’t.
This is the one perspective that I believe has helped me out more than anything in this life. It might not be so great for traditional success, but for personal happiness, it’s the closest thing to a magic secret.
People sometimes ask me why I’m generally a happy guy. This is it. I really just don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks about me. That’s not a front. That’s the truth. And its freedom. Thus, I can make the decisions that are truly right for me. How can you have any shot at being happy if you’re living your life solely for the approval of others?
I gotta be 100% honest. I think that’s just my natural disposition. So I don’t really have any good advice on how to help you get to that place. I know it’s a very frickin’ hard thing to do.
But if you can find a way to just be yourself and go with your gut, without worrying and obsessing about what other people think about your place or your path, life is much less of a bitch and way more of a beach, regardless of your circumstance.
Struggles and setbacks ain’t ever really that bad. It’s when we start thinking about how they will appear in the eyes of others, or what they will think or say about us, that the illusion of disaster or impending doom appears. The human spirit is strong, and can come back from almost anything. Its our weak minds that ultimately bury us.
6. Maintaining a Fake Image Will Ultimately Crush You. Just Be Authentic
Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualizing and self-image actualizing is very important. Most people only live for their image. Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that. This is again the curse of the ideal. The curse is that you should not be what you are. – Bruce Lee, Artist of Life.
Do not bear false attitudes. False attitudes work best where there are no enemies. In real situations they can get you killed very quickly…Think about being seen only by yourself and not through the eyes of others. Why would you want to appear as one thing and be another? ~Miyamoto Musashi
Projecting an image, putting on a show for the world, being the cool guy or girl, trying to be the demigod that can do no wrong and that everyone turns to or looks up to, etc. are all a big waste of time and energy. Who you trying to impress? The people that really matter in your life probably know you’re full of shit anyways. Trying to live up to some illusion of a perfect life will drive you crazy. Eventually, you’ll crack.
You just gotta be yourself, the good and the bad. Sometimes its more good than bad, sometimes its more bad than good. So be it. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.
When you’re an open book, you eliminate the stress of trying to hide things or of trying to decide what you should say and what you should keep secret. Talk about why everyone is so damn scatter-brained these days. It takes far too much energy to keep skeletons in the closet. Stop living your life like its run by a PR firm. Save that for your 9-to-5 (probably more like 7-t0-11 these days).
And hey, if things are tough right now, be honest with your circle and reach out for help. Don’t hide it. How can you get the support you need if you’re putting on a celebrity-style front?
7. Ditch the Dogma and Find Your Own Path
So what these students are doing is merely performing their methodical routines as response rather than responding to “what is”. They no longer “listen” to circumstances; they “recite” their circumstances. These poor souls have unknowingly become a classical mess. They are the “product” of conditioning that was prescribed for them hundreds and thousands of years ago. – Bruce Lee, Artist of Life.
He studied all the traditional philosophies, but then he began to form his own philosophy, and he came to the realization that you just can’t borrow another person’s philosophy. You have to learn about yourself and create your own philosophy, your own way of life. — Linda Lee (on Bruce Lee).
Creeds and traditions and so forth can work great for some people. But if you’re reading this, chances are that is not you.
What if you don’t fit their ideal mold? What if you know in your heart you believe something else? What if you’re struggling to find answers?
I was raised under a certain religion. And while I respect and appreciate some of the lessons it taught me, it wasn’t until I looked outside of the code that I found an approach that worked better for me, and helped provide me with some peace of mind.
Trying to fit into something you know in your heart that you’re not may be the root cause of your struggles, or at least are making them worse. You need to have the courage to go out and find what resonates and works for you, regardless of whether or not that is the traditional or not-so-traditional path.
8. Be Like Water & Just Roll With it All
Be pliable. When a man is living, he is soft and pliable; when he is dead, he becomes rigid. Pliability is life; rigidity is death, whether one speaks of man’s body, his mind, or his spirit…I try to live freely from moment to moment, letting things happen and adjusting to them. – Bruce Lee.
Like flowing water, life is perpetual movement. There is nothing fixed. Whatever your problems happen to be in the future, remember well that they cannot remain stationary but must move together with your living spirit. Otherwise, you will drift into artificiality or attempt to solidify the ever-flowing. To avoid that, you must change and be flexible…The meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems. – Bruce Lee
See below on how I elaborate on quotes with more quotes. That’s writing awesomeness.
9. Stop trying to control what you can’t
I must give up my desire to force, direct, strangle the world outside of me and within me in order to be completely open, responsible, aware, alive….The truth is that life is an ever-going process, ever-renewing, and it is just meant to be “lived”, but not “lived for”. It is something that cannot be squeezed into a self-constructed security pattern, a game of rigid control and clever manipulation. Bruce Lee Artist of Life
The Master does his job then stops. He understands that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. Because he believes in himself, he doesn’t try to convince others. Because he is content with himself, he doesn’t need others’ approval. Because he accepts himself, the whole world accepts him…If you want to accord with the Tao, just do your job, then let go. – Tao Te Ching
Life is random. So be it. At some point, you will have to just drop it all and roll with the hand you’ve been given.
One thing is certain: you can’t change the reality of the situation you face no matter how much you wish things were different. But you can change your reactions to your situation, and change your everyday state of mind to better deal with it.
Sometimes you just have to take whatever life thrusts on you with a smile and deal with life’s challenges with a “glass half-full” approach. I grew up in a small beach town — Half Moon Bay, CA. We’re most known for Mavericks, the big wave surfing spot.
Although I never surfed, I certainly adopted the “roll with whatever comes, don’t take life too seriously, be flexible like water, and enjoy the ride on the waves of life even when it gets rocky” Wave Man mentality.
I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s a good way to live. You should try it some time man.
10. Never Stay Down
Refuse to stay down. In Chinese variety stores we have a weighted dog, like your weighted clowns, which points out a moral: “Fall down nine times, but rise gain ten times.” To refuse to be cast down, that is the lesson. – Bruce Lee.
Believe me that in every big thing or achievement there are always obstacles, big or small, and the reaction one shows to such obstacles is what counts, not the obstacle itself. There is no such thing as defeat until you admit one to yourself, but not until then. – Bruce Lee
Samurais are useless unless they have the spirit to rise above the sea (of troubles and difficulties). This spirit can encourage other samurais. – Bushido
Sometimes life can throw you some curveballs. Every once in a while, it lands a haymaker right on your chin. If you don’t believe that, you haven’t been alive long enough.
You got two, and only two choices when this happens:
A. You can pick yourself back up and get back into the game. Maybe you’ll get your revenge.
B. You can stay down for the count.
But if you’re going to manage to get out of bed in the morning, you might as well fight. When all else is failing you, just rely on some good old-fashioned courage.
Strategies vs. Gurus
I don’t know man. I believe in straightforward strategies more than mystical and commercialized “life coaching”. How can someone have the balls (or lips) to say they can teach YOU how to live YOUR life?
Besides, with ego involved, we’re all fucking un-coachable. At least I am, and I’d take those odds that you are too. But with books and strategies, its almost as if you are discovering the material yourself.
No one likes to be told what to do. We fight back with what we think we know, or just out of spite. Our egos are too inflated for true learning. Reality TV and social media have warped our minds. We all believe we are mini-celebrities starring in our own reality show.
We’re not as open to learning and growing as we think. We become set in our ways. We are stubborn as hell.
But when you read, it’s almost as if you are discovering the strategies yourself. It’s like you are teaching yourself. There is no third party to size up, prove your superiority to, or match wits with. You can let your guard down, be humble, and learn in secret.
The only way information will stick for the long-term is if you believe it came from within you, from your own thoughts, research, and conclusions. Remember, you are a mini-celebrity and the world revolves around you right?
I hope the above strategies trigger something within you, and help you get through tough times.
If you want to learn more, go read some books by Bruce Lee.
Normally, I’d put affiliate links at the end of this post to those books so I could make some cash off of it. But that would taint this post and make some people think that was the whole reason why I wrote it. Nothing could be further from the truth, so I don’t want that doubt to linger like a bad fart.
This stuff is too important for that. I want you to get the help that we all sometimes need.
Whew, this post was way too long. I’ll see you next time for some simpler fitness shit.
Posted on April 29, 2014, in Philosophy and tagged Bruce Lee quotes, Miyamoto Musashi quotes, philosophy, self-help strategies, tao te ching quotes, warrior philosophy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.