"The mind is everything. What you think you become." - Buddha
Even 2500 years ago, one man and his followers believed undeniably that the mind conquers all. I once took an Eastern Civilization class where I found myself connected to the Buddha’s ideas and ways of living. I had always known that when I was sad, it was because I was allowing myself to be sad and when I was happy it was because I was responding to something that made me happy. It has always been easier to be happy than to be sad or troubled. I think that’s true for all of us.
Buddha believed every living being has the same basic wish - to avoid suffering. As we have evolved as humans, it seems we have gone in the direction of seeking happiness in external sources, rather than looking inward. We look to our high status jobs, money, dream houses, fancy cars, pretty clothes, cool friends, big trips, good food and ever-striving beautiful appearances as a means of being happy. These things are material and temporary.
We believe things such as food and money bring us happiness but most often, they are the cause of our unhappiness. One of our main interests as humans is food. The food we eat is also the principal cause of our mental and physical unhappiness, our ill health and suffering.
I have to wonder, when did we lose touch with finding and knowing our inner happiness? How did we grow into a society of striving for perfection, wanting everything now and believing happiness comes from acquiring more and feeling less? It’s no longer about being better than your neighbor, it’s about striving to be better than everyone. What do all of these things have in common? They are all selfish desires; selfish being the operative word.
I believe most people probably have to think very hard about what true happiness should mean because we have grown so accustomed to this false way of thinking, that has created a false life. But this is how we live and this is what we know. We can’t choose to live in another time where people embraced being selfless over selfish and where being happy with oneself meant being a good person to yourself and to others. The truth is, we are living in today’s society that is completely opposite of this. The only world we can run to for answers is our own mind. Even here we have lost sight of the power of this complex organ. We are what seems to be so “out of touch” with the truest and simplest form of happiness, your state of mind.
As a result of this way of thinking, when we encounter difficult situations, when things go wrong in our life and when we are unhappy with what our life has unfolded to be, we tend to regard the situation itself as the problem. In reality, whatever problems we experience, come from the side of the mind. We each choose to respond to every situation in the manner we choose to. This can be a negative or positive response. If we were to respond to difficult situations with a positive mindset, they would not be problems for us, instead, we may even come to regard them as opportunities for growth and development. Problems, on the other hand, arise when we respond to situations or difficulties in a negative state of mind.
The point: If we want to be free from problems and anything that holds us back from being who we truly want to be, we must learn to control our mind. Everything starts in the mind. Everything ends in the mind. Everything in between, well, is in the mind.
In the matter of health and fitness, this struggle is what I find separates those that succeed from those that withdraw. It is so easy to stay in the same ways we’ve known for so long. Open the bag, reach in, stuff it in your mouth, taste the cheese crunch, do it all over again. In fact, do it until you can’t eat any more. This is a mindset, a habit and an addiction and that’s why it’s so hard to break out of it and easy to stay in it.
How hard is it to change your lifestyle in the area of health and fitness. It has become one of the most, if not the most, challenging area to control in the life of an American. Obesity and health issues are only rising year by year. It has been reported that 1 out of 2 children born after 2010 will have diabetes. When I heard that I thought, wow. It makes sense to me though. The choices we have been making year by year have added up to a nation of rising health issues and more and more deaths each year, than ever before, due to these health issues. We have more and more technology each year but then why aren’t things changing. It’s because we aren’t changing. I ask myself, could we be the prevention of this rather than the cause. The answer: only if we change. That means changing our mind.
Changing my eating and fitness habits is the most challenging thing I have ever had to do. Because of that, it has made my gain the most rewarding of all rewards I have received in my life. I had many setbacks in my journey of losing weight. It was hard to get in the gym with all the other people who were more experienced, to change my way of eating, to give up all those great foods I became so accustomed to enjoying, to experience plateaus and have to fight with my patience but I never let myself quit. That was the difference this time from any other time I had tried to lose weight but failed. I realized at this time that my mind had grown and strengthened, significantly. I was able to do the thing I wouldn’t have been able to do a year before. I did this by deciding to change and by taking it baby step by baby step.
"A jug fills drop by drop." - Buddha
I recently watched a National Geographic special on Sumo Wrestling where I learned the Yokozuna of Sumo was the wrestler who has reached the rank of grand champion. There are more than one, but the Yokozuna they followed in this video, Yokozuna Asashōryū, left his mark on me. He was a big man with a gentle personality. He talked about the sport of Sumo and how balance and knowing your opponent’s weaknesses are integral to winning. He said of the sport of Sumo, “winning is the goal.” He went on to say that, to win, you must use your skills but mostly your mind. I could not help but relate his beliefs and motivations with his sport to the attitude I have created in getting better in diet and fitness.
Then he said something that really triggered a response in my mind. He said, “when I approach the ring, I am not thinking of losing or how my opponent looks and what he could be thinking, I’m thinking that I’ve already won.” He went on to say, “I find the way to take my opponent down, I find his weakness and I take him down. This is about winning and being the best and that’s how I envision myself.”
This is a powerful mind.
If only we can all take on this mindset, how would our lives change?
When we are unhappy with one facet of our life, it usually spills onto other facets, creating a domino effect of unhappiness and negativity. Sometimes things are out of our control, but the one thing that is in our control is the power to change our health, our bodies and most importantly, our mind.
Ah, but how to gain control of your mind. I believe there is a time for each of us where a turning point is the only option. Maybe you hit rock bottom or someone else inspires you. For me, I got to the biggest I would let myself get; I couldn’t be anymore unhappy or I would have withered quickly. There is only one time YOU will be ready. When you decide you are ready to move forward, YOU will do it.
"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." - Buddha
When you do, your body will progress, as mine did. When you do, your health will prosper, as mine did. When you do, your mind will strengthen, as mine did. When you do, your life will change, as mine did.