Saturday, April 9, 2016

LIFE IS NOT A CONSTANT STATE OF JOY


Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...my American readers just got chills reading that.  My philosophy fans realize it’s a bastardization of Locke’s “life, liberty and property”.  That aside, let’s analyze one of the key parts of that phase; the PURSUIT of happiness.  What is implied there?  That you don’t HAVE happiness, that you are in fact pursuing it.  Why is this the case?  Because you don’t become better while you are happy, but only while you are pursuing happiness do you achieve some manner of greatness.  This is a lesson many young trainees need to understand.



Image result for squats on a bosu ball 
And don't trust everyone who calls themself a trainer

I bring this up because SO many trainees bemoan whenever their lives are not a constant state of happiness and joy.  Any degree of misery is considered insufferable, and all avenues must be taken to avoid it at all costs.  This is why these young trainees insist on having a routine that is “fun” and not boring, demand that a diet allow them to eat the foods they enjoy, cry foul whenever they must spend time or money or effort on anything that will actually help them achieve their goal, and in general refuse to at any point in their existence feel even the slightest hint of discomfort.


Does the above sound like the life of a warrior?  Does that remind you of the Spartans?  Or is that instead a life of decadence, hedonism, and depravity?  Can you name any significant historical figure that accomplished ANYTHING while living that sort of existence?  The only people that I know of that can live a life like that are sponges; leaching off of their parents, or friends, or their government, or the kindness of strangers, encountering no personal hardship and simply flowing through life.  Consequently, those people tend to not have the best physiques.  Rather shocking, no?



Image result for south park world of warcraft
But at least their WoW characters are jacked

In order to be successful, at one point, you have to be miserable.  This is simply a fact.  This is not to say that misery equates success, as there are plenty of miserable people that are failures, and in many cases it is the fact that they are failures that MAKE them miserable.  However, the reality remains that one must endure some pain and suffering in order to make themselves something better than they are.  In order to be better than the herd, one must be willing to suffer in ways that others are not.


I know it’s cliché’ to bemoan the current generation in contrast to one’s past, but I can’t help it; the degree of uncomfortableness that people are unwilling to encounter is mindboggling these days.  I’m not even at the point where I am telling people that they have to squat until they puke to make the progress they want; I’m talking about telling people they have to wake up early to be able to train. I’m talking about telling people they have to learn how to cook 3 meals with a slow cooker to be able to eat right.  I’m talking about telling people that they have to ASK someone using the squat rack if they can work in (human interaction?!  God forbid!) so that they can actually get in a decent workout.  The threshold for discomfort has reached an all time low, and so has our physical ability as a whole.



Image result for fat person on a rascal scooter
Next time, go for diet soda


There are rewards ripe for the picking for those that are willing to suffer even the slightest.  He with zero fear of human interaction in many cases finds themselves a free squat rack where, upon asking the current trainee if they’d like to share, finds that the previous owner has literally fled the scene rather than risk having to speak with another human.  Someone that is willing to bring lunch to work just 3 days a week will end up with a significantly more impressive physique than the office lacky that eats potato skins at TGIFridays everyday of the week (you’d feel like that would violate their own policy).  And hell, while we’re discussing office lunches, he who is able to get OVER themselves and not care that people make fun of them for bringing in boring lunches and skipping out of office birthday cake will be significantly more accomplished than the trainee who caves to social pressure.  And for all that is holy, these are such INSIGNIFICANT sacrifices to be made, yet so many won’t be able to put in the slightest bit of effort.


For those willing to perform any manner of sacrifice, it’s an amazing era, as the average population is so far gone that it takes incredibly little to stand out as impressive.  For the trainee willing to push even further? You can be a god.  If you are willing to perform a routine based on how effective it is versus if you find it fun or safe, you will surpass those that managed to make it to the gym but are running Starting Strength for their 28th consecutive month.  If you are willing to eat food that you know benefits your training regardless of its taste, you’ll triumph over those that are desperately performing nutritional voodoo in order to justify eating a sleeves of Oreos (hey, it fit my macros, right?).  Are you willing to put it all on the line, get in front of an audience, and perform against other competitors rather than just comparing your numbers online?  Congrats, even greater sacrifice, even greater reward.  It goes on and on.


Image result for jacked jesus 
Just saying....it could happen


Life is not a constant state of joy, at least, not for those that are actually succeeding.  Sacrifices need to be made, discomfort must be experienced, pain must be reality.  PURSUE happiness, don’t actually experience it.  Let happiness be just on the horizon, something that you crawl through broken glass after, something you run through hot coals to get to, something you smash through walls to have.  As soon as you get happiness, you get soft, but as long as you keep pursuing it, you’ll accomplish something.

7 comments:

  1. Emevas,

    I will try and keep this short.

    The stirring of an archetype in ones unconscious psyche and the compulsion to embody that and give it a unique personal and conscious expression in our lives is always interesting.

    For some men that is the warrior.

    Do you think this "calling" is diminished as a result of a world in the wealthy west where we have tried to make everything easier and have happiness through instant gratification.

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    1. Ya know, I had to think about this for a little bit.

      My initial thought was "absolutely", but honestly and truly reflecting on it, I'm going to say no. Historically, the "warrior caste" of any society was still a small subsect and for good reason; you wanted elite warriors, not mediocre ones. Now, the warrior caste was almost never at the absolute top of the social hierarchy (usually reserved for kinds, religious leaders, nobility, etc), but it almost always consistently ranked around second place. Plato wrote about how the ideal state was one ruled by the Philosopher Kings and then, if/when that fell, the next state would be a military state ran by the warrior caste.


      What we are instead witnessing is the lack of shame for NOT being IN that caste. A society requires members of all castes in order to function. The philosopher king may be at the top, but the servant class still needs to exist or else nothing would actually get accomplished. However, it would have been that those in the lower castes would DESIRE to be in an elevated caste, even if they knew they had no possibility to do so. The stories of peasants becoming knights in the feudal era and such.


      Instead, due to the ability to communicate on a global scale, not being a warrior has become espoused as the ideal. Nietzsche talked about "herd morality" or "slave morality", which was this idea that, for the higher castes, qualities like aggressiveness, tenacity, ruthlessness, etc, were praised because they were necessary to be effective, whereas in the lower castes qualities like peacefulness, humility and pity were considered morality because these qualities were necessary for THAT caste to contribute to society in the most beneficial manner. With the lower castes making up the majority and now having the ability to communicate with each other, they reinforce the ideal OF these virtues and decry the virtues of the higher castes as "immoral".


      I don't feel that the instant gratification is diminishing the warrior caste, but is simply the effect of having so many of the lower castes being able to communicate, conspire, and create. It is the product of ability, but not necessarily indicative of a downslide. Meanwhile, the warriors are still being warriors, and still hold the virtues that a warrior needs. They simply get drowned out by the majority.



      This was real long winded, but an awesome question, and it really got me thinking. Thanks for asking it!

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    2. I think a great add-on to this is the reluctance of your "warrior caste" to share their experiences with the "servant caste" in the face of the overwhelming servant caste communication. Even literal warriors, as in war veterans, don't like talking about their experiences with non-vets. And why should they? How could you possibly describe an experience like that to someone who hasn't experienced it, but think they know everything about it anyway? At a metaphorical level, the "new warrior caste" which could include elite athletes as well as anyone who wants to take training seriously, have no way of explaining that drive to someone who lacks any similar motivation--so we don't try. We communicate with each other (like this) until a forum (/r/weightroom or eliteFTS, anyone?) gets overtaken by the servant caste--at which point, as you pointed out, they get drowned out by the majority.

      Interesting....

      --Will

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    3. That's an excellent addition Will, and spot on. I know that, offline, I never talk about lifting with people, and when prodded, I offer the barest of details. It's not enjoyable for me to share with people who just don't get it. It's not even about elitism (I don't think I'm special for lifting weights), it's more just about how much effort it takes to bridge the gaps in experience and knowledge to make anything I say relatable.


      Your observation on the decline of forums is too true. So many of the sites I used to go to just became cesspools where beginners parroted other beginners and any advice from someone that actually knew what they were doing was either ignored or mocked. It's why I say to avoid following popular training programs, as the sheer sign that they are popular tends to be an indication that they are unsuccessful.


      Definitely a fun topic to explore. You opened up something good here Paul.

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  2. Will,

    I think your points are very interesting and spot on. I remember I came across leangains and intermittent fasting as an early adopter. I had fatty liver and severe liver issues unrelated to drinking (junk food). I altered my diet and stopped eating too often to try and cut the accumulated fat on my gut away.

    I also got the "train at maximum effort and train abbreviated" piece from that system and progressed a lot. NB I am not a Fanboy at all of Martin Berkhan but the below exemplifies your point.

    I remember that when Martin Berkhan posted a 600 pound deadlift on youtube at 6% bodyfat some of the starting strength forum members were saying he was "anorexic" and or "assisted". They said he needed to eat more and do a proper program like starting strength to improve his form. Comments about trips to emergency etc also appeared on Facebook and in other internet outlets as the majority of the peasant class could only critique him on form.

    Emevas,

    I have thought a lot based on your blog posts about why I even lift and what cultural, archetypal and personal forces play on this.

    At 45 there are a billion cultural excuses for just stopping and "enjoying life". Why get up in the cold at 5:30am? Why not live a little and just eat what You want? Why endure the joint aches and pains? Probably damaging yourself. Who wants a narcissistic obsessed gym wanker when you can have a dad with a dad bod?

    I think my withdrawl from the internet and lifting and nutrition forums replaced by reading a few blogs stems from this very point you guys are alluding to.

    I am part of the non-warrior servant class and there is nothing more I hate than acting like an internet warrior in general and especially when I don't have the lifts to warrant it.

    I believe that lifting to me is a war. As opposed to feeling a part of a warrior caste, I am waging war against my natural tendency to be in the servant class. My skinny fat genes, my small stature, my comparative weaknesses as a kid etc naturally pre-dispose myself to a servant class stature.

    Given my age I think lifting and dieting is one of the few tangible and measurable ways to exemplify in reality how I can discipline my conflicts and instincts and walk my thoughts.

    Your blog is great, in a see of shit where poorly conditioned hucksters push crap like macros and beginners programs I like the way you walk your talk.

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    1. Paul,

      That comment really made my day. Thanks for that.

      I think you're on the right track here. You desire to be more, whereas many others in your place (as you've noted) simply desire to drag everyone else down to their level to create equality. That alone separates you from others in a positive way.


      You're right to stay away from forums. The only thing that compels be to go back is boredom, getting ammunition for future blog posts, and potentially helping 1 lost soul in a sea of terrible advice. Any chance of getting anything positive out of them is pretty slim.


      Thanks for being a reader of my blog. It means a lot knowing how much you have narrowed down your selections.

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    2. Entirely agree with both of you. My blog list is down to this, Tight Tan Slacks before they all but stopped posting, Dan John, and a few EliteFTS writers. Sad that Steve P and Chase Karnes basically don't write anymore. I read a lot more books and a lot fewer blogs than I used to.

      Will

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