Life Lessons Learned from Running

1. It’s okay to start off slow.

The very first time I started running, I sucked.  I was out of breath literally after two minutes.  Being able to complete an entire lap seemed impossible at best, so I instantly gave up.  I eventually started again, but this time, I did not stop.  I ran pathetic 5 minute laps with a lot of breaks in between for two full weeks until one day, I was able to run for 15 minutes straight.  15 minutes!  That was a huge improvement from my first day of running. (Don’t laugh, marathon runners!)

So remember, if you just started running – running 2 minutes a day is still more than you used to do before, and it still contributes to your body’s strength-building.  You get better as long as you keep it up.  This goes for any other endeavor.  It’s okay to suck at the beginning.  Practice makes perfect!

2.  Always try to be better than you were the day before.

Cardio is only effective as long as you are trying to increase stamina.  Once people fall into the same cardio routine, they stop burning fat.  Thus, in order for their cardio exercises to continue being effective, they have to accelerate their routines on a regular basis.  The more you practice, the better you become.

I find that the same principle applies to life in general.  Once you get too comfortable and stop challenging yourself, you don’t improve.  You stagnate, and eventually become ineffective.  Most notable achievements are results of people pushing boundaries and going where they haven’t gone before.

3.  Enjoy the journey.

Most of the time, we take up running to achieve something – whether it’s a killer body, superhuman strength, or a 1st place ribbon at the end of a race.  All of these things take a lot of time and practice before we are rewarded.  While it is good to have a goal in mind, that goal may take awhile, so you might as well enjoy the journey meanwhile!  Enjoy the scenery, the sunset, the killer beat on your iPod, and burning off your workday stress.  You still gain something at the end of every day.

 

The True Nature of Altruism?

I wanted to discuss what people regard as ‘altruism’.  Anyone who has read any Machiavelli, or any authors/intellectuals who espouse his beliefs, would be familiar with the notion that there is no such thing as ‘true’ altruism, or even morals.  Everything is relative in terms of power.  The more powerful agents set the standards for what is right and wrong, and everyone acts to maximize their own interests, and thus their own power.  Whether power is a means to an end, or an end in itself, is something that is still debated.

As a moderate, I stand to displease everyone.  I am not Machiavellian.  I do believe in standard morals, but I also believe that everyone acts out of self-interest, and that is perfectly okay.  After all, if we don’t advocate for our own selves, who will?   I do find contemporary American society to be kind of strange – a society which preaches individualism, private property, and the obligation to put others needs before one’s own all in the same breath.  It is unrealistic.  I would rarely, if ever, act against my self-interests, and would never expect anyone else to help me at their expense.  This is a mutual understanding most people have.  Most of us would feel downright guilty for asking or demanding someone to give up their convenience, even if it favored us.  Qualities such as sympathy and empathy lead us to respect others’ desire to maximize their own well-being.

Thus, acting in one’s self-interest is not the same as being unethical or selfish, in my opinion.  We still help others.  However, it is our subjective opinions which lead us to prioritize and choose the benefactors of our generosity.  Most people are willing to put the needs of their kids and relatives before their own – but as long as it is their own kids and relatives.  I would choose to help my friends before a stranger, choose which stranger I would take the time to help, and choose which charities I give to.  I believe there is such thing as altruism, but conditional altruism.  I would not put everyone’s needs before my own, but rather a selected and favored few. 

One of my favorite books: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

It’s been awhile since I wrote, but I remember my last post being about some healthy lifestyle choices.  Today, I was remembering a book I read a long time ago, back when I was in high school, but the very positive impact it has had on my life until this day.  Every time I need to re-orient my life and my decisions, I remember the advice I read in this book.  The book is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, and I highly recommend it if you have not read it yet.  I still re-read parts of the book over and over again to remind myself of the habits I could be working on.  Here is a breakdown of what Mr. Covey talks about in the book:

Part 1: Take care of yourself.  (Independence)  Here are some good habits for doing this:

1. Be proactive

This is understanding that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life.  Stop worrying about what you can’t control, and take action on what you can control.

2. Begin with the end in mind

Always have goals and a purpose.  Focus on being productive.

3. Put first things first.

Don’t procrastinate!

Part 2: Work on your relationships with others (Interdependence)

4. Think Win-Win

Be diplomatic in your relationships and arguments.

5. Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Be empathetic and be a good listener.

6. Synergize.

Cooperate and work as a team.

Part 3: General lifestyle

7. Sharpen the Saw

This one goes with my third point in my previous post, and that is don’t forget to take care of yourself!  Relax, recharge, and take care of your spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

Like I said, each of these habits for me is a work in progress.  Sometimes, I feel defeated when things don’t go my way (#1), or I forget to be a good listener (#4).  But thank you, Mr. Covey, for being a great help!