The mind is often a temperamental, unruly beast.  Inconstant and unpredictable, it will rule you if you let it.  From the dawn of time we’ve searched for ways to rule the mind, harness it for good or at least recognize it for the empty, meaningless wind that it is.  Something happens, you react.  You attach meaning to random events and create stories around the event attaching values of good or bad and responding accordingly.  It’s your automatic meaning-making machine taking control and living your life for you.  The problem is, your mind’s reactive nature does not always do you the best service.

My first introduction to philosophy came early in life because of my involvement in the martial arts.  Because I studied Asian-based martial arts it was Zen Buddhist parables that shaped my approach to dealing with the tyranny of the mind.  Make no mistake, in the martial arts training the mind is every bit as important – if not more important – than training the body.  But many westerners are put off by the simplistic and trite tales that I find so charming.  This is too bad because developing the right mindset will not only elevate your training performance but will also elevate your performance in life.  Lucky for us western philosophy has it’s own answer to Zen minus the cutesy stories, and that is Stoic philosophy.

Here are 6 Stoic principles that I believe foundational to peak performance in sport and in life:

1. Do the right things, for the right people, for the right reasons.  Doing good in the world is essential but insufficient.  Motive matters.  Do right.  But do it for the right reasons.  And for the people who matter.  Christians believe sinners go to hell in the afterlife.  By Stoic principles, sinners are already living in hell because that’s what life is when your words, actions and beliefs do not align.

2. The obstacle is the way.  The very thing that is stopping you, is your way forward.  It is actually the springboard to your next level.  So rather than resisting or lamenting the challenges life sets before you, look instead for the opportunities provided.  It’s rarely obvious, it’s rarely easy, but it is always there for you when you learn to look for it.

3. Expect misfortune.  I’m no pessimist.  I always hope for the best.  But I try to prepare for the worst.  Never underestimate any adversary or any challenge and you will never be unprepared for adversity.  Better to over estimate your opposition and win yourself an easy victory than under prepare and meet defeat.  I always hope things will turn out for the best but I try to prepare for the worst case scenario.

4.  Ego is the enemy.  You cannot learn what you think you already know.  And the truth is you know less about everything than you think you do so keep an open mind and you may discover something new.

5.  What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee.  We’re all in this together.  Life’s not a zero sum game.  It’s not all about you and getting yours.  How are you contributing to society?

6.  Memento Mori.  Remember you will die.  We’re all dying.  There is no way out of this.  Death is inevitable.  This is your wake up call to embrace the moment.  Start living now because now is the only time we get.  What’s holding you back from doing what you want to do?  From creating what you want to create?  From being who you want to be?

These are simple but powerful principles that will improve every moment and every relationship in your life when you remember to apply them.  Sometimes that will mean overcoming and rising above your mind’s knee-jerk reflexive responses.

Wednesday WOD
Equipment: Resistance band, dumbbell, barbell

Warm Up
1 min Banded Shoulder Pass Throughs
1 min DB Swings (overhead)
1 min Band Pull Aparts
1 min DB Swings (overhead)
1 min Marching

1 min Shoulder to overhead
1 min Sumo Deadlift High Pull
1 min Burpees
1 min Alt banded barbell lat pulls

HeroWOD Fournier
50 Shoulder to Overhead
30 alt banded barbell lat pulls
40 Burpees
30 alt banded barbell lat pulls
30 alt banded barbell lat pulls

Cool Down
Belly Breathing
Head Nods/Rotations
Upper Body 1/2 Rolls
Scap Rock/Rotations/Retractions
Dragon Rock
Pigeon Rock