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7 Quotes That Every 20-Something Needs to Think About
The unexamined life is not worth writing blog posts about.
When I was 22 kind, I was all over the place.
I get that it’s “normal” to be that way in your 20s, but for me, my life was built on extremes. I needed extreme highs to feel good, extreme lows to change my behavior, and extreme goals to get myself out of bed in the morning.
This picture sums up 22 pretty well for me. My gold medals and goofy smiles hide my craving for self-destruction, reinvention, and a different kind of growth. I just wanted to burn shit, and I channeled that “burning desire” into martial arts. I was pretty lucky I got hooked on something.
At 22, I was succeeding in most aspects of my life, but I was also an idiot. I could fight, but I couldn’t have meaningful personal relationships, I wasn’t super kind, and I didn’t like myself much, no matter what I achieved.
I liked to think I was smart because I was reading Solzhenitsyn, Nietzsche, and Viktor Frankl when my college classmates were discovering weed and going out for “thirsty Thursdays”, but not even my scholarly behavior made me “smart”. It just made me my own special kind of dumb.
From ages 17–23, I was one minor injury away from binge eating and drinking, hurting people close to me, and quitting everything I thought I loved. I was gritty on the mat, but a weakling in everything else.
Unfortunately, that was only 2 years ago, so I know I probably haven’t made as much progress with growing up as I think, but I have learned a lot in the past few years.
Competing in Jiu-Jitsu all over the world, having several shitty romantic relationships, and becoming a solo entrepreneur at the ripe age of 23 taught me a lot about life, love, and business. Nowadays, everything I do is sink or swim, and I now know a bit better what it’s like to sink.
Here are 7 of my favorite lessons in the form of quotes from some of my favorite thinkers.
There is more wisdom in your booty than your… wait a second. What?
“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
This quote has rung very true for me in my relationships, but also in my martial arts training.
If something feels weird, it probably is.
If something feels right, it probably is — at least, most of the time.
If something hurts, you should stop or tap out. If something hurts other people, you should stop. Your body is not deceiving you, most of us are just disconnected from what it really wants.
Listen to your body’s reaction to the actions you make. These reactions tell you a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, listen to your body. Your mind will thank you.
You don’t matter that much, and that’s awesome.
“Knowing how little you matter is very important for your mental health and your happiness” — Naval Ravikant
In my last serious relationship, I was all-in like I had never been before.
I thought she was “the one”. I’d never felt that way before, and I acted like it. I did stuff I never expected myself to do.
I gave it my all. I bent my behavior to her every wish. I loved her with all my heart. I tried to protect her from everything bad in the world. I threw my desire to feel significant into my relationship, and I thought that that would make me feel validated.
But no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough, and it wasn’t her fault or my fault. I wasn’t enough for her because we were not “enough” for each other, and we were both making drastic strides to avoid that hard truth.
Break-ups are one great way to learn some humility, but honestly, I’d rather be choked unconscious.
From my favorite philosophy book of all time…
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” — Viktor Frankl
Let’s go back to that break-up one more time.
I didn’t love the situation. The breakup itself was kind of fucked up. It hurt a lot. My life was a mess for a minute. I wanted to leave my skin and live in some other reality where I didn’t have to confront the fact that I was a fucking mess who didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship.
I couldn’t change my life that much after the breakup, but I did learn how to change myself. I didn’t even have to become a monk, I just had to practice better habits.
I worked on myself. I stopped seeking validation from other people. I stopped seeking — period. I got comfortable being alone.
Shit works. I swear.
Meditating on Meditations…
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
― Marcus Aurelius
Can we make it louder for the people in the back?
I’ve been guilty of this myself. I’ve spent too much time writing essays and articles and having conversations about what a good man should do, only to turn around and do the opposite in my real life.
I’ve said that men should be honest, and then I’ve lied.
I’ve said that men should be strong, and then I’ve succumbed to weakness.
I’ve said that men should be kind, and then I’ve been evil.
I am passionate about the value of being a good person because I know what it’s like to be a shitty person. I know what it’s like to act like a fuckin’ turd-muffin, and my goal is to be less and less of a turd-muffin every day.
I’m trying to live well, live more, and talk less.
It’s not a real self-help article without a quote from a samurai…
“If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything.” ― Miyamoto Musashi
This is my favorite quote of all time.
Learning to wrestle as a kid taught me how to learn Jiu-Jitsu in my teens and early 20s. Learning Jiu-Jitsu taught me how to write. Learning to write taught me how to live better, think better, and be better in every aspect of my life.
Everything is connected and related, you just need to have the ability to see the connections. This comes from knowing “the way”.
Don’t learn stuff, learn how to learn stuff.
The 5th rule of fight club is that you tell everyone you read fight club.
“I see in the fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives, we’ve been all raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t and we’re slowly learning that fact, and we’re very very pissed off.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
This quote is way longer than all the others, but it’s a fucking good one.
I’m so fed up with the self-help, pseudo-spiritual bullshit that people force down my throat on the internet every day.
The lesson I take from this quote is that my anger is valid. The fact that I feel fed up with being told to “love myself” all the time is valid. The fact that I feel I have been sold a lie by society is a valid concern.
However, after reading this quote, there’s only one question that matters:
What are you gonna do about it?
Happiness through chocolate cake is not real happiness.
“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Let’s keep with the fiction theme for this last quote because I believe fiction often teaches us just as much about life as nonfiction. I’m sick of the idea that nonfiction is better than fiction — little expresses the human condition as well as stories that have been created to express its intricacies.
Happiness is not eating ice cream, having sex, or making money. Happiness is not hugging your mom, fishing with your dad, or finding a lovely writing flow in a coffee shop on a beautiful spring day in Chicago.
Happiness is contentment. It doesn’t feel amazing all the time. It’s not ecstasy, it’s not what you’ve been told to think it is.
Happiness is when you no longer need to change the imperfections of the universe to fit your insatiable desires.
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In other news…
I’ve got lots of cool stuff happening these next few months.
Here’s my calendar for the next 4 weeks:
March 19: Primal Pro Team Grappling in Milwaukee, WI @ Primal MKE. The event starts at 3:30 pm CT, and you can stream it free here.
March 26: Lapel attack seminar at HeadNod Training Center - Jerseyville. If you’re in the St. Louis area, come check it out and learn some cool attacks! Email headnodTC@gmail to reserve your spot today.
April 2-3: ADCC West Coast Trials in Las Vegas, NV. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how important the trials are. Stream it on FloGrappling.
April 6-10: IBJJF Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships, Orlando, FL. Excited to throw down in my dope-ass gi from my sponsor Martial Paradise. I just wish heel hooks were legal! You can also watch this event on FloGrappling.
Also, today, March 18th, is my dear Mother’s birthday. Make sure if you see her you tell her that she gave birth to an awesome son ;)