December 2023


Life will happen to us all at some point; whatever goes wrong will eventually go wrong (Murphy’s Law). It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. The proverbial wolf/devil will eventually show when we least expect it, and the situation could make or break us. The father of American Psychology, William James, once quipped, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” Our superpower as humans is the ability to choose the direction we want to go and the approach we want to take. We can either let the trials and tribulations that confront us constantly make us bitter, or we choose to get better, let it lessen our resolve, or learn the lesson.

We will all have moments in life where we come to a new realization, a paradigm shift, where we’ve had enough, and we take the steering wheel of our life. Author Jim Rohn refers to it as the day that turns your life around; the father of American psychology, William James, calls it mental rearrangement; German Sociologist Max Weber coined the term metanoia to capture a massive change in a person’s outlook. Other names for this phenomenon include inflection points, crossroads, U-turns, crises, pivots, monster curveballs, ampersands, life quakes etc. These moments come in different shapes, sizes and forms. These life-changing moments are usually an opportunity for a rebirth, as the character of George Clooney in the movie “Up in the Air” remarked.

Life is in the transitions as much as in the terms connected. – WILLIAM JAMES

In Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age, New York Times bestsellers author Bruce Feiler writes about the nonlinear life, in which each of us faces dozens of disruptors. One in ten of those disruptors is what Feiler refers to as a lifequake, a massive change that leads to a life transition. The average length of these transitions is five years. The upshot: We all spend half our lives in this unsettled state. You or someone you know is going through one now.

I visited my first YMCA in 2018 after relocating to Canada and it was love at first sight. The YMCA offers a variety of services such as health and fitness facilities, immigrant services for newcomers, youth camps, child care services, employment services, and various youth programs. The array of services offered by the YMCA is very impressive and my YMCA membership card is one of my most prized possessions. I use the Ys health and fitness facility a lot to train and exercise daily, the YMCA has also been a great avenue to meet people within the community and become a better citizen. To say that I love the YMCA is an understatement, I am always trying to proselytize to anyone who cares to listen to the value of having a YMCA membership card.

I started meditating consistently during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. It was a very stressful period, and I was looking for a tool to help with my anxiety and state of mind. I stumbled upon a YouTube ad campaign by the mindfulness app Calm that featured four-time NBA champion Lebron James. The calm session featuring Lebron: Train Your Mind with LeBron James was so good that I immediately signed up for a premium version after finishing the session.

Lebron James was drafted by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft. He is in his 20th season as an NBA star and still playing at a very top level. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest NBA players of all time. One of the insights Lebron shared in his Calm session is the amount of time and resources he spent on maintaining his body. Lebron reportedly spends around 1.5 million dollars yearly to care for his body. The 38-year-old NBA superstar takes care of his body using hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy, NormaTec leg boots, trainers, personal chefs, and a consistent routine.

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”― Mahatma Gandhi

One of the deepest truisms in life is that everybody eventually dies. Everybody dies, but not everyone lives, as we mostly get stuck in the trap of trying to get ahead in life, so we stop truly living. We lead a life of quiet desperation, autopilot, trance, and sleepwalking throughout our precious time here. We spend our youth trying to keep up with the Joneses, amassing wealth while ignoring our health, and we devote old age to using that same wealth to care for our health. You cannot fit a wheelchair in a Lamborghini; live your life to the fullest while you are still here and try to be of service to the world around you because everybody dies in the end.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..” ― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Most of us live in someday isle, wherein we delay living our lives and we postpone almost everything to a future we are not promised. We delay starting the business until we have enough money in the bank, we delay going on the adventure of life until we are retired, and we wait living our life until everything is aligned. The reality of life is that everything will never be aligned; you just have to keep showing up day in and day out while creating your luck. As Author MJ DeMarco, observed, “Someday – The legendary place where your hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations all magically come to fruition. Someday is dangerous and paralyzing. It traps you in the land of Nowheresville.” To live a worthy life, you have to start from somewhere by living one day at a time. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. This is not a drill, it is the real deal; we all die eventually – Start Living.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” To be yourself in a world where what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong is extremely tough. It takes a lot of courage to separate oneself from the crowd, go against the grain, stand alone where everyone is thinking the same, and think for yourself in a world where groupthink is the norm is the greatest accomplishment. The internet and social media have normalized crowd, mob and group thinking, black and white thinking; you are either for us or against us thinking.

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”

Leaving it all on the floor is a sports metaphor that refers to playing hard and giving your all in a game. As the saying goes, “We play the way we train.” Your effort in training would eventually show up during game time. It involves having a passionate approach to playing or participating in a game. We get rewarded in public for what we have diligently practiced in public. The former boxing heavyweight champion Joe Frazier was right when he said, “You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your [preparation:]. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights.”

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.” – Abraham Lincoln

You are what you consume, the food, media, people, vibrations, and energies that you allow into your life ultimately determine your attitude and overall well-being. Eating junk food produces a junk body, consuming negative news produces negative thought patterns, and surrounding yourself with toxic people leads to a toxic personality. As the saying goes “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. Your input ultimately determines your output. We live in a world of consumerism where we are compelled to consume more than we produce, a world with an overwhelming array of drugs to numb our pain. Depending on your personality, the array of choices of drugs is limitless from social media, food, pornography, news, texting, new media binging, retail therapy, and a host of other dopamine-inducing coping tools.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein

American author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn often said “Life is the struggle to keep death at a respectable distance. Death wants to move in prematurely. Life’s job is to keep pushing back!”. One of the major activities we can engage in to keep death at a respectable distance and give ourselves a fighting chance of staying alive for a longer time is movement/engaging in physical activities. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity 1 as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity refers to all movement including during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work. The WHO recommends engaging in at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

“Life is the struggle to keep death at a respectable distance. Death wants to move in prematurely. Life’s job is to keep pushing back!”. – Jim Rohn

The world is full of opportunities but the POOR sees challenges in every opportunity instead of opportunities in every challenge. As the author of The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason said “Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.” The unprepared can spot the opportunities around them as they see a problem in every challenge instead of seeing it as an opportunity. POOR is an acronym for Passing Over Opportunities Repeatedly. The co-founder of the multinational technology conglomerate, Alibaba Group, Jack Ma described what it means to be POOR and what serving POOR people looks like. He reacts:

As the saying goes, you don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. Most of us want to be ready before we start, but the reality of life is that everything will not always align or go as planned, but the key is to keep moving. The momentum that you gain as a result of taking action will eventually build your self-confidence and belief in your capabilities. The hardest part of any journey is taking the first step, committing to a goal, and executing it relentlessly. There are going to be ups and downs, detours, diversions, and stop signs, and sometimes, giving up might be considered but with persistence and perseverance, most goals are achievable.

In his poem, The Road Not Taken, American poet. Robert Frost wrote “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.” Our natural human tendency is homeostasis, our inclination to look for the path of least resistance, the easy route, the shortcuts, and go through the road often travelled. As Frost noted in his poem, taking the road less travelled made all the difference. The road less travelled is the third door, it is not obvious to most of us as it takes the relentless pursuit of a course bigger than us, it requires seeing the big picture and staying committed to our priorities and goals. To achieve anything worthwhile in life, courage is an essential component of getting great things done. If you do what everybody is doing, you will ultimately get the same result they are getting.

We are all works in progress but we often underestimate our progress and overestimate what we are going to become in the future. It is a tendency that we humans exhibit and psychologists refer to as the “end of history illusion”. One of the keys to getting ahead in life is to understand that you can always become a better version of yourself and the best is yet to come. Your history is not your destiny, you can change the course of your life at any point by deciding to change the direction you are heading. As American philosopher and psychologist, William James once said “The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.” Good better best, never let it rest until good is better and better is best.

“The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.” – William James