Personal Growth

I am really proud of myself for becoming the strongest and most muscular of my life during this pandemic. For the few years leading up to the pandemic, I got into basic barbell strength training, then considered taking a more bodybuilding approach, and ultimately decided to focus on pure raw strength, specifically powerlifting. When the pandemic hit and I realized that it was going to be months, not weeks (little did I know it would be more than a year), I knew that I had to figure out how to continue my powerlifting at home. It was a new-ish hobby of mine, and if I just let it fall by the wayside, it would essentially mean that I was no longer doing something that was purely for myself. For my own self-worth, I needed to have that thing that I would do for myself.

The rest of the country decided to buy fitness equipment at about the same time, so it was a bit difficult to get the stuff, but with enough persistence I pieced together the equipment I needed. So this whole year I have pretty consistently been doing my lifting. I have gotten bigger, stronger, and I feel good about myself and what I have achieved. Last year, I even participated in a virtual powerlifting competition. I came in last (of three) in my age and sex category, but that’s OK.

Despite having adopted this healthy habit and achieved the improvements that came with it, I find myself wanting more. Yes, more progress on physical achievements, like a running habit and increased flexibility. But more than that, I want to grow my spirituality, emotional well-being, mindfulness, willpower, intellectual pursuits, and conscious leisure activities. I know each of these things will take a similar amount of commitment that my growth in physical strength has taken. So I have to keep reminding myself of that.

I am 37 years old. Just continuing to “think of” myself as a mindfulness-aligned, spiritual-seeking, intellectual person does not make it so. I have to actively pursue these goals and others. Aside from putting in the work, I need to make room for that. I need to slowly shed non-core responsibilities, so that I have more room (primarily time, but also mental context switching) for personal growth.

I have been “wanting” to cultivate a mindfulness practice for at least ten years now. And by “mindfulness practice,” I mean even just ten minutes of meditation per day. Of course, that would just be the start. But even that start, I have never begun for more than a few days. So how much do I “want” it? That is what I need to prove to myself by taking steps to make it possible.

I also find a certain amount of sadness in, for instance, finishing a day of work plus other responsibilities, to walk to get the mail and realize that I have hardly been outside all day on a beautiful day. It’s not that work alone prevents me from getting outside. More that a combination of other responsibilities after work as well as a lack of sufficient willpower to take advantage of little 10- or 15-minute blocks of time together prevents me from getting outside, or whatever my “conscious leisure” activity might be.

All of this is to say that I only live once, and simply floating from day to day, week to week, month to month, season to season, year to year, without putting in sufficient conscious effort in designing my life, cultivating my spirit, sculpting my body, caressing my relationships, appreciating my intellect, and fully experiencing life, will be a disappointment to say the least. We only live once, and we must grab life by the horns and ride it for all that it’s worth.

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