As much as I don’t like to massage his ego, I have to give credit to this post to my boxing trainer Rob.
When sparring with him (a painful experience quite literally, to put it mildly), and trying to keep up with everything I have against someone with a lot more experience in the ring than me, he’s said to me some of the most profound words:
“I like to see what people are made of. You see that when you break people down. Do they whine, cry, complain, make excuses… or do they learn, adapt, show fortitude. The test isn’t keeping up. Its not giving up”– Rob Lynch
Granted, as much as I struggle to keep my breath and stay in the fight when he’s pushing me more and more, I still don’t give up. I stay there, take the hits, embrace my pain and hit back. He keeps coming at me, I’m in pain, but I stay in the fight. I don’t give up. I embrace the jewel of a moment to practice fortitude. And in fact in a masochistic fashion as he likes to say, I enjoy it.
Fortitude is possibly one of the best traits a person can muster, in sport, business, personal relationships and life at large.
Fortitude is more of what the world needs right now. Especially now with what’s happening in the world with COVID.
In times like these especially I believe we could all benefit from adopting learnings from the great Stoic philosophers, from great masterpieces like Marcus Aurelius Meditations and the writings of Epictetus.
Meditations is probably my favourite book of all time and I believe everyone should read it in times like these in particular, but also in general.
I’m a big fan of Stoicism as a philosophy and I admire that trait in people when I see it, unfortunately more seldom than I’d like.
The great stoic philosophers teach us the importance of embracing our pains and troubles. To face them with courage, fearlessness and Manliness. To be grateful for what we have instead of whinging and complaining about what we don’t. To embrace the ‘less is more’ philosophy. To find opportunity in every downfall, in every ruin. To realise that in every ruin you can find a treasure. But that’s only if you’re looking. And you’re only looking if you’re a stoic. If you show fortitude.
The vast majority of people aren’t looking. They don’t show fortitude. They complain and whinge about the glass they always see half empty. The reality is that they still have more than most people but they still complain. It’s never enough. The neighbour has more. A neighbour will always have more.
I’ve become allergic to these people. Their negativity and constant whine is just toxic.
Especially in times like these we need to stay away from that toxicity. Yes the world is going through one of the greatest challenges we’ve faced in our generation. Deal with it. Get over it . Stop complaining and as crazy as it may sound, despite the pain it’s brought to the world, embrace the pain. Be a stoic. For those of us who will survive this we will come out stronger. But only if we exhibit fortitude and stoicism.
Of course it’s a tragedy that people are dying or losing their jobs there’s no questioning that. Any death is tragic. But breaking down into a negative spiral will not help; in fact it will only make it worse. We forget how much pain our previous generations endured: famines, wars, widespread disease with no medication. The word vaccine didn’t even exist until relatively recently in the history of Man.
We’ve become so complacent and used to a comfy life with technology, medication, abundance of food (for most), in fact too much food which creates many more problems in the world than COVID has or ever will. Obesity and diabetes are still the biggest killers in America. Sugar is more addictive than Cocaine yet most people stuff their bodies with it, while complaint about COVID.
Famine was a major problem – and still is in places like Africa – till the turn of the 20th century. We live in times where there’s only a fraction of worldwide deaths due to warfare, we have the longest life span we ever did and the lowest infant mortality rate. In other words: we’ve got a good deal in comparison. We should remember that before whining.
We’ve all become pussy cats, precious princesses whose main preoccupation and obsession is to indulge in the ‘what-ifs’ and their never ending desires for possessions and meaningless indulgences. We’ve become undeserved Epicureans who are never happy. And that’s because we can’t stand still and embrace our pains. Stand our ground, stay in the fight with positivity, bravado and courage.
This attitude is more toxic than COVID or any disease. It’s not what’s made our ancestors great, conquering land, exploring the unknown, sacrificing their lives for the better future of their next generations – us. And what have we become? Ungrateful whining brats who can’t deal with an inch of pain.
So my message to all those people is go study Marcus Aurelius. Read the great works of the stoic philosophers. Man up and Learnt to practice fortitude. Show some grit and tenacity. Get in the ring with someone better than you and learn to get hit without complaining.
It’s not about winning it’s about staying in the fight.
That’s another lesson from my favourite sport of boxing. Every great boxer minus a few exceptions (who had amazing promoters) has lost. From Mohammed Ali to Sugar Ray Robinson (considered by most critics as the best ever). But they did’t stay down. They didn’t whine or complain. They picked themselves up and returned, stronger, better, tougher. They endured the pain, dare I say probably enjoyed it. They pressed on.
They showed fortitude. Much like the great Stoic philosophers, these great athletes and others at the peak of the art, are great people we can, and should, all learn from.