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Friends In Arms

If you think that some hardships are so bad that there’s no return from them, I can tell you first-hand that heartbreak and suffering can make you a more loving and hopeful person, and that loss can ultimately be a gift.

Allowing the vacuum of vulnerability to open in your life is one of the most challenging things you can ever do. You subject yourself to love, sure, but also the potential for sadness and sorrow. You can end up sitting in front of the vacuum of grief; you’ll submerge into the emptiness, and have to let go of what was once familiar to you. You’ll have to forgive those who have done you harm and ultimately, you lose the idea of who you once were. This is so that you can eventually become something else. There’s no way to know what will come into your life to fill up the emptiness, but one thing is for certain: if you want a life different than what you’re used to, it won’t come by doing the same things you’re used to.

After repeated heartbreak and trauma, I spent years role-playing; sometimes I played the victim and sometimes I played the hero. Other times, I played my own worst enemy. Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t willing to stop and look at the moments of beauty in life. Our judgement is clouded by the clutches of emotion and expectation, which are blind spots.

“They did this experiment in England once. A group of people were told that for the following few weeks, hired strangers would be interfering ever-so-slightly in their lives. Nothing they would normally notice, maybe a passerby on a bicycle or a waiter at a restaurant. Just little interactions set up to alter the course of their routines. When the study was finished, the volunteers recounted all the things that had happened to them. And some of them were seriously affected by the message they were being sent. One woman started believing in god. But here's the thing. Nothing was done to them. Their lives had carried on completely unchanged. The only thing altered was their perception. People see what they're looking for.”

It can all exist at once; you can be happy and sad, joyful and fearful, angry and at peace, etc. These intense moments of pure happiness sprinkled throughout moments of intense pain teach you something. The suffering you experience cannot and will not outweigh all the good you have in your life, and all the good in your life doesn’t minimize the trials you’ve gone through. This is one of the gifts of loss that they don’t tell you about: the ability to become completely and totally awake in your life.

Your lowest moments in life are opportunities for major breakthroughs.

“Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from our mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life.”

Simply put, life is pain. If you are to survive the art of life, it’s not about avoiding pain but making use of it. Like an egg must be cracked so its yolk can seep out, a human must experience the pain of agony and despair before their inner-fighter is revealed.

At first, holding the plank position, for example, feels like suffering. Your entire body begins to tremble. You fall, you pick yourself back up, and you try again. Eventually, what was once difficult becomes easy, and you rise up one level and repeat the same idea with an even tougher objective. All suffering and setbacks are of use; they serve as our best lessons.

You Must Know What You’re Fighting For, Deep In Your Heart

So, you want to live a better life, make more money, and exercise at the gym multiple times per week. Why? I urge you to look beyond the scope of superficial metrics; because, when you die, your money and good looks will not mean a damn thing. Why you do something is just as important as what you do. How will this impact others, what does your doing something leave behind? Maybe you’re doing all of this so that you can then focus on the bigger picture. What is that, exactly? Superheroes are perfect examples of “having a cause.” You always need something bigger than yourself to strive for, if you are to live a meaningful life. A man or woman without a cause will have no effect in this world.

Your Past Doesn’t Define You

Your past is permanent and there’s no changing it, and your future is an illusion, since nothing has happened there yet. We as humans need to understand this. No matter what problems you face, your identity isn’t married to your past. It’s defined by what you choose to do in spite of it. If you want to build muscle, for example, would it make sense to say “Na, I’m fat. What would it matter if I went to the gym and exercised daily for 40 minutes?” No, you wouldn’t. Because you know that your body changes with the more you stick to a rigorous exercise routine backed by continuity.

Life happens. Keep it moving.

We All Need Someone, To Some Extent

A soldier never goes into battle alone. Just the same, we as the “soldiers of life” cannot fight our battle alone. We need brothers and sisters and friends in arms. We need to lean on one another, to pick one another up, and to realize that we’re stronger together. In the world of exercise, do you have a trainer or friend showing you the ropes? Who do you lean on when it gets tough, and who keeps you accountable?

Home is a battlefield

Whether you're a war soldier or simply fighting the battle of civilian life, our battle becomes normalized; because with it, there's a clear objective. It's because we need structure. When we take our eyes off the target, we slip into old habits. Bad habits that got us into serious trouble the first time around. Just remember, the shark that does not swim, drowns. Learn the waters you were born into. Become the water, and never fall off the path. It takes so many days to form a habit of success and only one tiny slip to break your streak.

Always. Move. Forward.

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