Patterns, Discipline, Growth: Take Ownership

Life is a set of peaks and valleys. But every time I’ve found myself down and out it was the result of damaging lifestyle patterns: what I was eating, how I was moving and engaging myself mentally, or possibly even overdoing any type of drugs, alcohol or other addictive activity. It’s important we learn to associate feeling good with maintaining balance and self-discipline.

As ex navy seal Jocko Willink says, “discipline is freedom.”

Every day is a chance to exercise that willpower “muscle.” Take ownership of this task.

Life’s a bitch and it doesn’t get any easier, so the focus needs to be on getting stronger and more resilient. I would highly recommend researching stoicism as an ideology. The stoics placed heavy emphasis on separating reality from our value judgments of it. They practiced this with a mental exercise known as ‘prosche'(attention to one’s mind) that closely resembles Buddhist mindfulness. To stoics, learning to recognize our judgments creates what they call the “inner citadel,” a place where stoic adepts can remain at peace, regardless of external circumstance.

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius or “Letters” by Seneca would be good places to start. Also the set of stoicism books by Ryan Holliday are great modern adaptions of these ancient ideas. Why not learn a new way of thinking?

As Emperor Marcus Aurelius so eloquently stated, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

Along with this, we must learn to let go and not sweat the externals. This includes letting go of objects, wealth, lavish lifestyles, and even other people.

As Yoda said, “let go of everything you fear to lose.”

It’s important that we learn to unconsciously separate internals and externals, what we can control and what we can’t, so we’re able to dwell automatically and more effectively on what we can.

As far as learning to let go, meditation is a powerful tool for this. It also serves as training for focus, willpower, and improving self-narrative while reducing anxiety/negative self-talk and facilitating a general sense of peace.

As the Buddha said, “Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts.”

I would say learning the Buddhist philosophy is just important as practice and suggest both regularly. Perhaps dedicate 20-30 mins a day to learn and practice. Stay consistent and you will be glad that you did. Make the commitment to sharpen the saw.

As Abraham Lincoln said,”Give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the saw.”

The human body requires regular motion to operate at high levels. its incredibly beneficial for the body, immune system, and even cognitive functioning to embrace novel movement skills. Fitness creates just another effective opportunity to exercise our willpower and drive self-improvement daily.

Everybody should have a movement hobby. Basketball, racquet ball, tennis, calisthenics, jogging, weight training, biking, martial arts, parkour, yoga, dance, any combination, whatever – at least one fun way to get moving regularly. Being fit can, and should be fun. Dedicate yourself, make it so.

Always try new shit. Always do it for the act of doing; never worry about the result and never fear failure – it is the path to mastery. 

We only control our actions; can’t control what others think of them. Focus all anxiety and stress inward to become a better person. This is a central tenant of both Bushido and Stoicism. Become someone worthy of respect. That’s on you.

The easiest way to change what you’re looking at (life) is to change what you see (your perspective on it).

Try to become a better human every day, and try to treat others with respect, no matter how they treat you in return. Take ownership of these qualities. They will improve your life.

Best of luck.