If you’re unfamiliar with Newton’s First Law of Motion, it states that an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an equal and opposite force. So how can we apply this law of physics into our personal lives?
Okay, so imagine yourself as a moving object (which you are): a person with their own thoughts and energy, going about their day and interacting with various different people and situations. Maybe you get a phone call with some bad news, or have to work with an insufferable coworker. Or maybe you got a promotion at work, or finally asked that person out on a date. If you’re like most people, your thoughts and temperment will change several times throughout the day: you’ll be in many different mental places. But regardless of how we feel, we all somehow manage to make it to the end of the day, going through the highs and lows of life.
Many of us look for ways to make our lives easier and happier, especially when we notice an imbalance towards negativity. Life can become overwhelming and exhausting. While this may be the end for some people — quitting on their endeavors or feel as if nothing is worth it anymore — this is not the case for powerful people. Because we recognize that there is no obstacle greater than the potential within us – the potential that we can convert into the moveable kinetic. The only thing that can completely destroy our dreams and motivation is any obstacle that we think that is greater than us. But there are very few people and obstacles that can equal our energy. To stay in motion towards our goals, it is important to acknowledge and believe in the inherent power within us: no obstacle is greater than you. Keep moving towards your goals, and recognize that often the obstacle is the way.
One of the things that many of us have in common is a past we cannot change. We’ve often heard many life coaches and motivational speakers talk about continuing to work on the present and moving forward, that we should keep the past behind us. As appealing as this advice may be, I feel that ignoring an important part of ourselves isn’t really complete advice. Ultimately at the end of the day when we are by ourselves and we become introspective, where does our mind go? Often to the past.
Since the past isn’t something we can change, it’s important that we look at it from different perspectives. Just like with people and situations in our lives, if we can’t change them, it’s important to change our perspective. As I sit here, I think about all of failures I’ve had in the past. For some, reflecting on things that’ve gone wrong might be debilitating and discouraging. But with the right perspective, it can be liberating. Each time we’ve failed at something, it means we’ve displayed courage and took a risk. And most importantly that we’ve survived.
We fell down seven times, but something made us stand up an eighth time. What was your reason for continuing to keep trying? And can we cultivate that into a passion that keeps us interested in life?
Bruce Lee would’ve been 78 yesterday. So to commemorate his birthday, I wanted to talk about one of his most popular sayings, of being “like water.”
Water can represent so many things: it is ever-present in our ecosystem. It can change shape from solid to liquid to gas. It moves everywhere, through many things, without doing much. It has no form, which then allows it to take the shape of anything.
In Taoism, this malleable form of water is what makes it such a common metaphor for the universe. There are many things in play in the universe – undiscovered energies, planets, stars, etc. And we as humans are also a part of this vast universe. It is no secret that one of humanity’s greatest strengths is the ability to adapt and survive. We’ve developed technology, communication and culture to find various ways to survive over the years — all products of adapting to the changing environment.
I feel that one of the things Bruce Lee talks about while advising us to be like water, is to be malleable so that we can adapt to life and its challenges. If we are complacent and rigid in our life, we take away our greatest strength as humans, and subject ourselves to a life of suffering. But to be formless means that nothing (external) defines you. You define you, nothing else. Then, our ego is minimized and we become capable of living to the capacity of our full potential. We become more aware and more powerful: two things that I would wish for everyone to be.
How are you today? I hope you’ve been well. Today I wanted to share some wisdom I recieved that helped me respect the idea that small, consistent changes are often prerequisites for big change.
There’s a popular Taoist quote that is often misattributed to Confucious: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I recently learned that this version was a mistranslation of the original Chinese text. There was no symbol or character that represented “one” or “single” to signify the step (and of course they didn’t use miles as a measurement of distance then). A much better interpretation is the following: “The small piece of ground beneath your feet is the starting point for a long journey.” Epic adventures begin from the point on the ground where you stand. Seeds become trees, water vapors become torrential rains and great journeys have humble beginnings; most great things are a result of many small actions over a period of time.
If there are changes you’d like to make in your life, try not to underestimate the smaller actions. Many people might think it’s pointless, or a waste of time, but many of them lack foresight and humility for real change. Try not to be fooled by the words of nearsighted people when your goals are much bigger. Persist and win.
This is a letter I wrote to a younger friend about why it’s important to believe in positive things, especially love. It might not work out like you planned, but positivity gives you the strength and humility to learn in any process. I hope you find value in this as did I in writing and reflecting on it.
I understand that it can be difficult to find the right person to date. But I can’t just stand by and let you believe that just because it’s difficult, that it’s not worth it. When you find the right person, maybe you won’t be together forever. Maybe things will go wrong. But you will most definitely learn. We often see perfect relationships on social media, but these are ultimately fiction — a fragment of people who are a lot more dynamic and strange than just a few snapshots. Try not to be fooled by any narrow concept of what a relationship should be. Get out, be vulnerable and get to know someone. And don’t believe that a handful of negative people represent the whole: it’s simply not true; this type of thinking only propogates negativity and suffering. I’m sure that right now, someone valuable and worth it might be thinking the same thing of other people out there. And maybe like you, they have a friend telling them that not all people are the same, and hopefully they’ll snap out of this negative thinking. We cannot let negative thoughts ever stop us from achieving our goals, be it career or love. The path you’ve chosen for your life is probably difficult. I’m sure there are many people who tell you that it’s not worth it, or that you’re crazy for pursuing it – but you still pursue it regardless because it gives you and others around you happiness. Romance and relationships are the same way friend. We cannot let the world convince us that it’s not worth it. Everything that’s worth it will take time, right? Let’s encourage others to not only give happiness, but hope that their dreams about love and success are valid and attainable.
Many years ago, Sifu (Teacher/Instructor) Patrick taught me about the Buddhist concept of moderation. In my teenage years, and up until my mid-twenties, I’d frequently swing between emotional extremes of happiness and sadness; my accompanying actions were just as impulsive. I would often isolate myself from friends when going through these extremes to avoid my consequences from affecting them– but this thinking was naive. I was always doing it for me.
Most of my life, I’ve been around people who are unable to practice self-control and emotional stability. Because of this, I believed that controlling my emotions meant to suppress my identity. However, I didn’t realize that living at the extremes removed me from living in the present moment: thinking about the past and the future would use time from today. The story that Sifu shared with me was about Buddha during the ascetic phase of his life:
One day, Buddha fell over next to a river while trying to mediate in his malnourished and emaciated state. Laying weakly by the river bank, he overheard a conversation between a teacher and student passing by on a boat. The teacher was advising the student on the importance of properly tuning an instrument. “If you tighten the string too much, it will snap. And if you give it too much slack, it won’t play.” It was then, that Buddha realized the path of moderation, or “The Middle Way.” Buddha had lived life as both a slack string (one of a lavish prince Siddhartha), and one of a string almost about to break (ascetic monk). But only a finely tuned instrument can bring out the true music from within it.
I share this story with you, because it offered great value for me in my personal growth. May you find the middle path in your own life, and walk it towards success.
“Are you a Christian, Jay teacher?”
“What?” She caught me off guard, “What makes you say that?”
“Well my mom said that Christians are good people who care about others and help people, so you have to be Christian.”
I didn’t know how to respond. This was clearly meant to be a sweet compliment. But right now, I couldn’t have an in-depth conversation about how people of different religious backgrounds can also help and care about others. At least not here.
I got this tutoring job by a friend’s recommendation, so I had to make a good impression; becoming the Camp’s controversial math tutor wouldn’t be the way to do it. That summer, my friend’s Christian Leadership Camp was short on math teachers. I needed the money and I was great at what I did: teaching math to middle-schoolers. I couldn’t imagine many scenarios where Jesus would come up when teaching algebraic foil methods. All things considered, I accepted the job.
But here we were. Did this student see me as a Christian for staying late to help with homework? Did she see me as Christian for empathizing when she told me her friends thought she was “dumb” and stopped being friends? Did encouraging her to continue art classes (after seeing her amazing sketches on the margins of their math homework) make me a Christian?
I’m not sure about many of those things. But I do know that this was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in my life. Being a decent human has no religious boundaries.
I decided to start documenting my journey of becoming a respected author, while things are still new, and I’m figuring out things. I want to be able to remember the beginning of the process, before the “likes” and popularity, so that I can remember the most important part of the journey, and share this with others.
It’s been roughly three months since I began writing every single day, with the purpose of becoming a better writer on my Instagram. I also started to read and write more so that I can have a better understanding of both the topic I wish to speak about (increasing the belief in oneself to do great things by recognizing negative patterns through self-awareness) and writing structure in general. I’m also still trying to figure out my demographic, but I think I’ll be able to narrow it down with more writing. I’ll have to give up podcasting daily so that I’ll have more time to write, and ramp up my audiobook intake.
It was also my first day at my new job today. It felt nice, and I met lots of good people. But at the end of the day, this job is just a tool for my writing and podcast. It’s important to always remember why we do what we do.
Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.
Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.
Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.
In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.
When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.