Part two! If you missed part one, read The Tao Of Human Fitness first.
Ok, now where were we? Oh that’s right; egotistical desire.
Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole, and the square peg into the round hole.
According to these ancient sages who practised Taoism and other philosophies, all desire is driven by ego. Whether desire for material wealth or possessions, power or political influence, all of this was seen as a distraction on the path to enlightenment (or happiness). It is interesting that this was seen as an issue even in ancient times. In modern times, even more so.
So the message from the old masters was to stop wanting things. Stop wanting material things, stop thinking you need to achieve things. Just chill out, meditate and grow vegetables. Right? Well… it was probably a bit easier for them, not having electricity bills to pay and so on.
I don’t necessarily agree with this entirely, but I do agree that working yourself into the ground to pay for a bunch of crap you don’t need while neglecting your health (physical, mental or both) is no way to find happiness. On the other hand though, I believe that the desire to strive towards great achievements is a natural instinct that human beings were designed with. The only problem with this as I see it is that for a lot of people, we often tend to prioritise things that we think we should be more concerned with, over the things that we actually care about. Further to this, there’s the “I really don’t want to, but I have to” stuff. For example “I really should spend more time with the family, but I have to do more hours at work instead”.
When you’re not doing the things that you know you should, it’s a guilty little feeling nagging at the back of your mind. These “should” things can either be positive or negative… “I really should spend more quality time with my kids” would be absolutely positive, “I really should put in more hours at work and get that promotion” could be a positive thing, or it could be a negative thing if it means more stress, less family and leisure time and you don’t really need the extra money anyway.
In training or in life, we need to be more focussed on doing more of the things we actually want to do and should be doing, rather than reluctantly doing a bunch of stuff we really don’t want to do and really don’t need to do. For some reason, a lot of people I talk to feel guilty for wanting to do more of the stuff that makes them happy, or feel like they are being selfish if they don’t want to do more of the other stuff.
Anyway enough of this and back to the subject of fitness and training. I can’t solve all of life’s problems but I can tell you how to ensure that you achieve your training related goals. The first step is possibly the most important one and it relates directly to what we’ve discussed above. Rather than rejecting our egotistical desire though, I say we need to be in tune with it. We need to accept and honour our true motivation, rather than deny it and convince ourselves that our goal really should be something different.
What I am getting at here is whatever you want to do is fine. If your motivation is that you’d like to participate or compete in an endurance event, that’s fine. If your motivation is to be a strength athlete that is fine too (yep even if you’re a girl!). Whatever it is that you think “that would be pretty cool, I’d like to do that” is absolutely fine and you should enthusiastically go after and smash hell out of that goal. You know what though? This also includes people who just want to see a “better” body when they look in the mirror. I recently asked for some feedback on a theory about this, and my suspicion was confirmed that a lot of people feel guilty because they “know it should really be about my health / strength goals / fitness / endurance / performance (choose one or more of these), not just for vanity reasons”.
I say screw that. Health is always a priority… you’re not going to be successful in any of these goals if you don’t ensure that you do it in away that makes your body healthier, rather than just running it into the ground with too much work on not enough fuel. Even if you were somehow successful with an unhealthy approach, you wouldn’t be enjoying it very much. Apart that though, embrace your true motivation and train appropriately to achieve that goal.
Otherwise, what are you doing, really? Reluctantly pursing a goal other than the one that would actually make you happier is definitely akin to forcing a square peg into a round hole.
I can’t believe this is blowing out into three articles! Stay tuned for more.