Life sucks. If it doesn't, maybe you're doing it wrong.
Life has challenges, it's hard, it confronts you every day. Life has big hands. Huge, gnarled, scarred, rough, worn hands. And every day you wake up life will slap you with those giant catcher's mitts. I had a 6th Grade teacher, Mr. Mitchell, who told us repeatedly, "Life is not fun, fair, or easy. If anyone tells you differently, they're selling something."
When is life fun, fair, or easy? When you're sitting down. When you're not doing anything. When you aren't challenging yourself.
You can do that, you know. You can quit. You can always choose. You always have the option. You can always decide to coast through life. You can choose the soft life. You can choose comfort.
I was a cop for 23 years. I ran into the quitters every shift.
One young lady was up at 3am screaming at her boyfriend. As I gathered information for the report I asked her where she worked. She told me she was on disability. I checked my notes. She was 19.
I asked her why she was on disability. She said she gets headaches once in a while.
Let that sink in.
I told her. "I work 5 jobs. I have 3 kids. I put in 80 hours a week. I haven't had a Christmas off in 6 years. I am never late to work. I often get headaches. But I am there. So you are now resigned to never working, never producing, never putting out, never doing anything. You're just going to sit on the couch for the next 50 years?"
She said "pretty much."
Do you think she will grow? She is just barely starting out in life and she's already quitting.
I worked with a guy once who had lost all the fingers on his right hand. He was right handed. He had to learn how to operate with his left hand. He rolled his cigarettes, by hand -- one handed. I can't do that with two hands. He never missed a day of work.
I knew another guy while I was a manager of a gym. He had served in Vietnam. He lost his left leg below the knee. He wore a prosthetic. He never missed a day of work, and never missed a workout.
When I worked at the factory I knew a guy who got his hand cut off in a machine. Doctors were able to reattach it. It was a mess of scar tissue, and had limited function. I knew they guy because he went back to work. He never missed a day. Had he shut down and quit life, I would never had known him.
Another guy at the factory burned his hand when a machine spit 650 degree plastic on him. His hand was also messed up, but he never missed work.
Doctors removed 6 inches of my colon in 2020. I taught Tai Chi days after I left the hospital. Three weeks later they told me it was cancer. They put me on a chemo pump, I still went to work. Life is hard, but I'm harder.
Life challenges us. That's what it does. It stands in front of us and gives us a choice.
"Face me or lose face."
"Do the hard thing or do the nothing"
We always have that choice.
The hardest thing we do in our lives is get up when we can't. Even harder is to choose to do the tough thing when an easy thing is readily available.
But we don't grow while comfortable. We don't grow on the couch. We don't become better than we are if we don't do more than we do.
Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, tells people all the time, "Live like no one else will live, so later you can live like no one else can live."
A sculpture doesn't invent itself. Life chisels at it, breaking off and discarding everything that isn't its true self. Life beats it, carves it, sands it. But in the end, it is beautiful.
Are you being sanded? Is life chiseling at you? Good, it means you are on the right track, becoming more than what you are now.
I tell my clients that not once in the history of sports did a hurdler carry his jumped hurdles to the finish line. Our obstacles are meant to be surpassed, overcome. We aren't supposed to keep dragging them around. I tell my clients that so often we drag our little red wagon of challenges around with us. "Look what I had to go through. This happened to me once. See how hard I've had it? This is why I can't do anything now."
Drop the handle on that wagon and push it down the hill. The things you have faced in life are there to make you better, not weaker. That's not what life is about, becoming smaller and weaker. Life is hard, get hard back.
So how do we begin?
It's not huge things. It's not waking up and deciding that you're flying to Nepal tomorrow to climb Everest with no experience at all. Or deciding that you're going to the NFL or NASCAR or NHL.
It's the small things. Tiny little moves every day. Several times a day.
Read one book this week. Anything. Hell it could be a Snoopy book. But just read. Sure a book seems daunting right now. But start with one page. It means you have to shut off that one-eyed brain sucker you don't think you can live without. Are you really interested in what the freaking Kardashians are doing today?
Make one meal a week. Look up the recipe on the internet. Go buy fresh ingredients. Make the recipe. With real food. No microwave. Eat what you prepared.
Clean one thing today. Just pick up one thing and either throw it in the bin or put it where it belongs. It where it belongs is cluttered, then you have something else to organize.
Move a little bit today. If you have to get up from the dining table, stand up ten times. If you can't do ten pushups, do them against the kitchen counter. No one said you have to commit to a one hour, grueling, sweaty workout involving iron plates, kettlebells, jogging, yoga, Pilates, and spinning all at once, starting tomorrow. Just do little things throughout the day. Touch your toes. Do ten jumping jacks while waiting for coffee. Stretch when waking. Walk to the mailbox instead of checking it from the driver's seat on the way in from work. Take the stairs and start hating the elevator. It won't make you that late, I promise.
You can do 1% better or 1% worse each day. But you have a choice.
I took cold showers for several years. I had read several articles about how beneficial they were and just started doing it. Wim Hof "The Ice Man" promotes it as a way to increase health and longevity, boost the immune system, and increase mental and emotional strength.
I'm not the kind of guy who dips a toe it, I just decide to do it and then do it. So I took cold showers for years. I told my kids about it and they asked why I would ever consider that.
"Because life isn't fun, fair, or easy. Life sucks. If you can face an ice cold shower every day, knowing it's going to suck, you can face anything. So get in there an embrace the suck. Make suck a part of your life so you can face anything."
I had to stop cold showers after I did my two doses (not rounds - doses. I quit chemo after that and healed the natural way) of chemo. Doctors said I could have nerve damage in my hands that would be irreversible as a result of the chemo. After only two doses I got Raynaud's syndrome. That's when cold makes the arteries in the fingers or toes close up and your fingers turn white or blue. When the circulation returns the fingers will turn bright red. It hurts the whole time. I became really cold intolerant. Lately I've been trying the cold showers again. My hands aren't reacting badly yet, so I'll keep going. I really enjoy not enjoying the ice showers. But I am embracing the suck every day.
Life is hard. Embrace the suck. Make suck a part of your life. If you can handle the suck that you create for yourself in small doses every day, you'll be able to handle the larger chunks of suck life tends to want to throw at you to encourage growth. Growth never comes from comfort. Growth comes from adversity. Life is full of adversity. Adversity is overcome by action. Action begins with deciding. Deciding begin with a desire to change. Embrace the suck. Win one victory, it encourages another. Then victory becomes a habit. Then, one day, someone will ask how you "do it."
Besides, no good story begins with, "I was sitting on the couch today, clicking channels, with a beer in my hand...."
Join us this week in Tai Chi. This week we will practice the Tai Chi Ruler. It's a simple little device that creates huge results. I look forward to seeing you there.
Classes are as follows.
All classes are pay as you go. No contracts or commitments.
Dubois County Museum
Classes are $12.
Tri State Holistic Wellness
500 Saint Phillips Rd 47712