As you’ve come to know by now, improving your health and fitness transcends the body. It’s just as much — arguably more — a mental journey as it is a physical one. And along those lines, we want to do everything we can to help you increase your mental fortitude.
And today’s quote, which comes from Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus, is a perfect example of how you can sharpen your mental ninja skills:
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
In other words, we don’t always have a choice about what happens to us in life, and yes, “bad” stuff is going to happen. But how we perceive and how we react to life is what truly matters.
Think about how much energy can be lost spent worrying, stressing, and dwelling on things that happened — or didn’t happen — or when things didn’t go your way. Was that a good use of your time and energy? What good came out of that?
How did it affect your sleep? How did it impact your food choices? How did it influence other behaviors? Did you skip workouts? Did you turn to unhealthy vices or comfort foods? Did you treat others poorly?
Did it distract you? Did you find that you lost focus? Did you end up making poor decisions or even critical mistakes?
Simply put, think about how a negative reaction led to an even worse outcome! Even though you didn’t control the triggering event, your response can lead to a domino effect.
On the other hand, think about a time when life threw you a curveball, and you made the difficult choice to respond with resilience, creativity, and optimism. You saw it as a learning experience and a growth opportunity. With that mindset, only good things can ensue. You will always come out on the right side.
If you have children, think about a time when something didn’t go right. Think about how you reacted with patience, resourcefulness, and a sense of humor. And think about how your clutch reaction circumvented a catastrophic meltdown, and instead, created a memory.
Another way to think about Epictetus’ quote comes from a comes from actor and comedian Jim Carrey, who said, “Life does not happen TO you. It happens FOR you.” Or, as success coach Craig Ballantyne says, “Control what counts, cope with what you can’t, and concentrate on what counts.”
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