I am stumped by the bad news. I did not know how to react. I have everything on the line. Bang! Lady luck frowns at me. My plans, my goals are all at risk of failing. I closed my eyes. My heart screaming, why me? All I want is to keep my neck above the water to survive. And life would be so cruel to me.
Why not me?
Life is meant to suffer. To be alive is to face challenges at every corner. Marcus Aurelius the Roman Emperor, who was probably the most powerful person on earth during his time. He too faces challenges on a daily basis. If a person who is as powerful as him faces the challenges of life, we are not immune from any pain that life inflicts upon us.
He wrote Meditation which was a personal note to himself about the realities of life. One of my favourite quotes is this.
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
When bad things happen, I always remind myself of the quote. We can be the victim of life’s circumstances or we can find a way to accept it and overcome it. The sooner that we can accept the reality, the sooner that we can move on from the bad experience. Let the bad experience be a lesson. Sometimes we need life’s bitter lesson to learn. And that’s the only way to learn.
The reason that you are feeling frustrated by life is that you are trying hard. You want to go beyond what you are now. To go beyond what you are, you will face pain, frustration and challenges. Once you overcome those, life throws more at you. And you will grow further.
Life is a series of pain and frustration. Embrace it and feel excited about it. For every pain and frustration, it is an opportunity to truly test who you are.
To live your life to the fullest. You need to live a life with kindness and compassion. Here is how you do it.
To yourself. You have to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Do not compare yourself to other’s success. If you make a mistake. Accept the mistake. There is no need to beat up yourself. Watch yourself talk, listen to the choice of words used against yourself. No one deliberately messes up their own life. Whatever that happened to you, you have done yourself. Forgive and be kind to yourself.
To others. Give 100% attention to the person whom you are talking to. Listen to her words. Look into her eyes. You do not have to agree with what she says. But let her know that you are listening. If the person has wronged you, forgive the person. If the person did something good for you, be grateful.
Kindness and compassion can be contagious. It starts with you. If you can make someone’s day a good day. That person will make another person’s day a good day. It spreads and it amplifies.
That’s how you live a full life, by showing kindness and compassion one person at a time.
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”
Life is a series of challenges. Sometimes, I feel like I am the Nintendo’s Mario character jumping over never-ending series of obstacles. Everybody wants to defeat the final boss and save the princess. In my case, the princess is nowhere to be found. All I see are nothing but more sophisticated puzzle designed to frustrate me.
The above paragraph summarises my perception towards life. I am always angry and feel shortchanged by life. I get beaten by life time and again. I am certain that I can have life beaten back. I did not give up. I have scars on my heart to show that I will not back down. I watch a motivation. Read a motivation quote. Gets me all energized. After a few hours, the feeling of frustrations sets in again.
I did not have a system that kept me going. I did not know how to handle setbacks and frustrations. To me, it is always the other person’s fault. The government’s fault. This is the wrong era. There is nothing that I can do! Life wants me to fail and so I have failed.
I have never tried anything new in life. As I only expect things to fall apart. To me, the secret to never fail in life is to never try.
Then I picked up the book — Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday. If there is a book that I would pick up to read on a weekly basis. This would be it. Whenever I have empty pockets of time, I would pick up the book and read one or two pages. If the time is shorter, a paragraph or two is equally good.
The book heavily leans towards the philosophy of Stoicism. This is my first book on Stoicism. The author offers an actionable system of thoughts and actionable task on handling life’s challenges. This is why the book is effective.
The author helped me to think about my frustrations. Can I make the frustrations and challenges into an opportunity? When there is an opportunity, how can I take action to seize the opportunity? Just as the book title, the obstacle is the way. The frustrations become the way.
I am still a work in progress. Nevertheless, the book has helped me to face each day with slightly more courage. Pick up this book and learn its philosophy, let obstacles become the way.
The Jocko Podcast is one of my favourite podcast that I listen to on a regular basis. I first heard about Jocko Willink is from Tim Ferris’s podcast. That was Jocko’s first appearance as a guest on a podcast. Jocko was there to promote his book – Extreme Ownership and I was mesmerised by Jocko’s life philosophy. Soon after, which Jocko has his very own podcast assisted by his friend – Echo Charles.
Exactly who is Jocko Willink? Here is an introduction from TED.
JOCKO WILLINK is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, host of the top-rated Jocko Podcast, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he is a leadership instructor, speaker, and executive coach. Jocko spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, starting as an enlisted SEAL and rising through the ranks to become a SEAL officer. As commander of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the battle of Ramadi, he orchestrated SEAL operations that helped the “Ready First” Brigade of the US Army’s First Armored Division bring stability to the violent, war-torn city. Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the Iraq War. Jocko returned from Iraq to serve as Officer-in-Charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams.
In Jocko’s podcast, the topics that he shares are about military history, leadership, Jujitsu, fitness and discipline.
Recently, Jocko Podcast released their 100 podcasts. In that 100 episodes, there were many gems. Here are some of my major takeaways.
The human willpower is the most powerful force on earth. Jocko has shared many books of soldiers overcome great odds to survive from great tragedies and later thrive in life. The one that somehow stayed in my mind is a book called “I’m no Hero” by Captain Charlie Plumb. The story of how POW survived is unbelievable. It is simply the will to live and survive. I asked myself many times whether I would survive if I am in Captain Charlie’s shoes. The answer is no. Whenever I have a bad day. I would think about the POWs. Suddenly, the day seems to brighten up.
Appreciate life. The people who served in the uniform has lived by the devil’s mouth. Emotionally and physically, they have lost far more than a civilian like myself can imagine. Through the podcast, I have been reminded of the many sacrifices that men in uniform have made so that I am able to sit down in comfort to type this sentence. I do my best not squander the limited time that I have on earth.
Up before the enemy. During Tim’s podcast, Jocko mentioned that he wakes up 430am every day to exercise. He wants to be ready for the enemy and face down the enemy. The enemy is a figure of speech. It can be anything. Jocko’s workout would set the tone and gives him the necessary energy to face the day. Jocko has inspired me to wake up earlier than usual. Nowadays, I would wake up anywhere between 530am and 600am for either a run or lifting weights. I feel good about myself. And yes, I feel that I can face any enemy that life throws at me throughout the day.
Discipline equals to freedom. To me, discipline is doing the right things even when you do not feel like doing it. When I set out to write a 500 words post every week, I would find the time and do it. Regardless whether I feel inspired or not. When I set out to run 10 KM twice a week. I would wear my shoes and start running. Even if I do not feel like running, I would still hit the road. Discipline is about doing the right things that you have promised yourself to do and doing it consistently.
Extreme ownership. One of the major themes of Jocko’s podcast is about taking ownership. Taking ownership of the problem, the responsibilities and see through it that it is either solved or done. Taking ownership of your team’s performance to make sure they are performing at their best level. Jocko’s book Extreme Ownership explained the concept of ownership very well. For a glimpse of Extreme Ownership, listen to the TED talk below.
Just do it. Whenever I need a pick me up really fast. I watch this. You will be back in the game in no time.
You can do more. In some of the podcast’s episode, Jocko would answer questions from the fans asked through either Twitter or Facebook. Many of the questions are about how the listener can do more than they are able now. Jocko’s answers are simple and straightforward – Do it. There is nothing that limits ourselves other than ourselves. If a single parent can hold two jobs and bring their kids. You can do far more than you think you can.
I cannot recommend enough of Jocko’s podcast. As a matter of fact, you do not need to believe me. It is better to find out by yourself. Take up his advice and make some changes to your life. You will definitely see and feel the changes. Get after it.