Going to preface right off the bat, this is NOT a religious article. I purposely put the word "spirit" in the heading because it goes straight through and even beyond the core of what we call our "physical" reality.
So why "Spirit of Sadness" in a Martial Arts site? Good question. I hope you're ready to buckle up, sit down, and enjoy the ride!
Have you ever had a day where you were so happy, so full of life, optimistic, seeing the glass as half-full, could see the future bright as day; only to succumb to a sorrowing sadness and almost depressed state of mind - quickly? I mean, one minute you're on top of the world, seeing the bright future ahead of you. Another minute, you're slouched over, shoulders down, downtrodden countenance, saddened face and a head full of daunting thoughts.
Ever thought to yourself, "Man, nothing changed or happened, but I'm feeling down all of a sudden!"
I have to admit... I've had many days just like the one I've described above, where it was as if though the proverbial "shadow of darkness" had not only visited me, but actually consumed and found residence in me. I mean, come on! We're all human. If we haven't had moments or times like this in our life, it just simply means: A. You're lying. B. You haven't lived long enough yet. C. Just wait, it's coming!
LOOKING TO BE ANGRY If we're all honest with ourselves (which is what I'm hoping most reading this would be), we all know of someone that life has been pretty brutal to. Of course, as we should know, "brutal", depending on how it even got to that point, can be relative. Some of us may not even want to see how anyone else's life is brutal, because we feel ours is brutal enough!
Again, if we can be honest with ourselves, we definitely know of at least one person that you 'for sure' wouldn't want to trade your life for theirs!
Here then lies the problem. Whether you're an atheist, agnostic, religious, or don't to classify yourself as anything, we ALL have an obligation to ourselves to "evolve", "grow", "adapt", "metamorphosize", "transition", "rise above" or "elevate" to another plane or level, in order to truly be viable, life-contributing, useful human beings in this world we all share. Which means, if when bad things happen, you can't find it within yourself to take that challenge or struggle as a catalyst for learning and growing; your "spirit", "essence" or "being" immediately begins its descent and even want to depart from you altogether.
Your soul, spirit or inner-you knows that growth comes from adversity; which is why it diminishes more and more, every time your conscious mind gives up on the struggle. Your spirit starts yelling at you through your subconscious mind, which in turn, starts bothering, disrupting, chastising and haunting you via your conscience. Since you refuse to face your fears, downfalls, mishaps, calamities, troubles, issues, responsibilities, losses, insecurities, shortcomings and/or inadequacies... the "spirit" which you were born with gets so small, your mindset succumbs to vibrations and frequencies of the world outside of the one you were born with. In turn, leaving you with nothing but the "spirit of sadness."
I know it's easier said than done. Believe me, I know!
I've faced it all, including the close encounter of death; the loss of loved ones; the disappointment in humanity; the financial heartaches; the family struggles; the return, healing and re-return of ailments; the embarrassment of not being able to feed my family; standing in line at the dollar store, with bread and canned corned beef in hand for the family (wife, three kids and three dogs), the success then failure of business ventures; the list goes on and on. However, in ALL of those cases, my growth came, NOT when I pointed outward. My biggest growths in life came when I realized that I can walk around bitter, angry, distraught, hurt, despondent, fractured, jealous, envious, bitter and/or indignant; but chose not to. Sure, I had every right to comport myself any which way I'd like to and be angry at the world, but at the end of the day, that "spirit" inside of me KNEW that I was born for more! Plus, after all the anger; all the finger pointing; all the cursing; all the blaming; all the criticizing... you're still left with the matter at hand. Plus, you have to know deep down inside, no one is going to come in and swoop your troubles away - you have to adult up on that one yourself!
Is life hard? Yes. Can life be challenging? Yes. Do you feel like giving up every now and then? Yes. Can the pressure sometimes feel as if though your shoulders will crumble and legs give out? Yes. However, we all know in our heart-of-hearts, that we can overcome life's obstacles if we care enough to do so.
The issue is this... Change, adapting and simply living - is hard! But blaming , giving up, being angry all the time, self-wallowing, finger pointing and lashing out at others, feels much easier than wiping away your tears, standing tall, changing your body posture and accepting the fight or struggle. So our saddened spirit won't even allow us to enjoy what we do have.
WHAT DO WE HAVE?
Well let me just preface that while we don't have it all, we can definitely find comfort in and with what we do have.
Before I get into an example, allegory or parable, if you will... the first question I want you to have in the back of your mind, moving forward is this: Are you reading this article on your phone, computer, laptop or tablet? Hmmm. OK, let's proceed.
Albert, a European man leaves his wife and kids, temporarily, to go to America. He believes that once he gets to America, finds work, a home and sense of security, then all his troubles would be solved. By "troubles", I mean, he lives in a modest house, has four kids, a wife, a steady income and is close to his and his wife's family. The main "trouble" is that he wants more out of life and knows that he can acquire "the finer things in life" that he sees all of those Americans have when he puts on his television.
As we fast forward a couple years, Albert has fully settled in at his new job in America, is making twice as much as he was back home, found a beautiful house that has twice the square footage and rooms. He's been sending money to his family every month and speaks to them every day. He feels that it's finally time to bring his wife and kids over to America with him.
Albert gets on the phone with his wife the night before she and the kids are coming to America. He tells his wife that coming to America was the best thing he could have ever done and that had he not made the decision to go to America just a couple years earlier, they would have been stuck in their mediocre lives. But now he knows that he made the right decision and is proud of himself for doing so. Before hanging up, he says to his wife, "I'll see you tomorrow babe. Leaving you guys behind for a couple years, to now have everything, is the best thing that could have ever happened!"
The following day, Albert gets a call from his mother-in-law. She's crying in hysterics! In her pain, anguish and anger, she yells, "They died! They died! The plane has crashed! They're all dead!"
Albert, in his pain and sorrow, cries out-loud, "My life is a disaster! I wish I never would have come to America! It was a curse!"
Two years ago, Albert made a decision to leave his family and "normal" European lifestyle and move to America for more. Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. He was thinking about more for his family and more for himself. His heart was in the right place and his actions were resolute. No one would ever know if things would have been this disheartening had Albert never left to America. If Albert never moved to America and would have just stayed home in Europe with his family, perhaps there would have never been a plane crash. No one would ever know, nor can one even begin to speculate. At the end of the day, no one is ever promised tomorrow. We make the best decisions we can and hope that we can live a long fruitful life. That's a true statement for every human being.
SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Well you see... looking at the story from our point of view, and not knowing all of the details and the bazillion micro-variables that lead up to Albert's decision to leave his family and come to America; it's impossible to speculate, judge or form any opinions on whether things would have turned out different with Albert and his family had he just stayed in Europe.
The sacrifice that Albert made in order to create a better life for his family and himself was noble, honorable and virtuous. However, if there's one thing I've learned in life, it is that bad things happen to people no matter how calculated ones decisions are! No doubt Albert, at the time, thought he had made the best decision in his life, for his family and himself. He even validated that sentiment himself, on the call with his wife, the day before the tragedy. "...Leaving you guys behind for a couple years, to now have everything, is the best thing that could have ever happened!"
We all make conscious decisions every minute, hour, day, week, month and year of our lives, that either drive us towards or away from goals, objectives, and purpose in life. Albert has a new decision to make in life, now that he's confronted with this horrible calamity which has encircled his life.
DECISIONS A. Albert can mourn the loss of his family and forever treasure them in his heart; continue to live life to the fullest and use this horrible event to help others appreciate every waking day they're alive. Despite the horrific turn of events that had dramatically scared him, Albert can live well with himself, with no guilt, knowing full and well that the decisions he made to move to America were with the best intentions and benevolent interest of his family. Although he may be plagued every now and then with the haunting image of his family running through his mind; Albert can still live life with purpose and vigor as a tribute to his family. Love and compassion would propel him to affect millions, if not billions of lives, in the most profound way.
B. Albert can mourn the loss of his family, become depressed, despondent and deranged; constantly imagining how life could have been, had he never moved to America. His decision to come to America, in his mind, could have been the worse decision he's ever made. He can become bitter, unruly, belligerent, angry and/or seething. All of these emotion too, are natural and maybe even inevitable.
OUT OF OUR CONTROL
There's really never any actual way to prepare for the setbacks, tragedies, and calamities of life - especially our own lives. However, the only thing we have FULL control over is how we choose to move forward in either living a life full of purpose or one of despair and continual sadness.
The things that happened to us in life happened already. All we have is a choice, a decision, a commitment if you will, towards the next steps moving forward. That's it. That's what EVERYTHING comes down to - a decision. Will you wake up every day deciding to be bitter, angry, sad, begrudging, envious, murderous, spiteful, nasty, mean, malicious and full of strife? Because if you do, you can rest assured knowing that the same energy you put out, is exactly what you'll attract. Meaning, you would have begun a vicious cycle of perpetuating emotions that would begin to consume you more and more each day. Essentially self-fulfilling your outlook on life and ultimately sabotaging your happiness.
I've used this example to friends, family, co-workers, students and strangers, for almost 30 years now: If I went for a jog and somehow tripped and fell. I have two basic decisions I can make in that moment: 1. Stay on the ground, cry, get angry, be upset, go on social media and let everyone know how angry I am that this happened to me. Email and text everyone in my contacts, to let them know how unfair life is. "Here I am, just trying to better my health and not bother anyone, but... Bammm! I fell while I was jogging" "Life is so horrible!" "Nothing good ever happens to me." "Had my best friend, sibling, parent, spouse, mentor, cousin, roommate or whomever, been there with me, this would never had happened." "They should have been there for me!" OR 2. "Ouch! That hurt." "Wow! That was embarrassing." "Gotta get back up and hobble my way back home." See, you can just dust off the dirt, get up, get back home, clean up, treat the wound and simply move on with your life. Will the pain last a few days, maybe weeks? Yeah, maybe. But you still have to move forward. Eventually, the pain will go away but one thing is for sure... you will NEVER be able to erase what happened. Why? Because it already happened. Now I know to be careful when I jog again. Perhaps bring a small first aid kit with me next time I go running. Probably wear something more sturdy. Perhaps even get myself different running shoes. Something! The point is that I fell, got up, lived to talk about it, learned and grew from the whole experience... and was able to go jogging again.
So many people go through life being angry, and in turn, sleep angry, wake up angry, go through their day angry. Their energy and aura is so full of anger, ill-intentions and darkness; it can even consume or wear down those who may be going through their own problems, yet trying to do so in a healthy manner.
Your real you, your spirit, the essence of who you are, is the one thing you just can't get rid of. You can squelch it, suppress it and even try to forget it, but at the end of the day, you won't be able to live without it. When we finally start living without excuses, anger, hatred, malice, envy, strife and bitterness, you'll start to see that life can be much more beneficial for you. Now you'll notice I didn't say that "life would be better for you", I said "Beneficial." You and your spirit would be on the same page, in one accord, conquering fears, insecurities, inadequacies, complexes, downfalls, and all sorts of negativities together; not allowing the spirit of sadness to fill the void you've been suppressing all of this time - your birth spirit.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights amongst you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. - James -
As a martial artist, whether you're a boxer, wrestler, mixed martial artist, karate, kung fu, Jiu Jitsu or any other martial arts practitioner; you definitely have NO EXCUSE at all. You're bored? Go training. You're angry? Go spar. Feeling down? Workout. Feeling depressed? Do all of the above!!! But whatever you do, stop making the people around you miserable.
The example that was given in this article (above), about the European man and his family, was an extreme example - on purpose. I chose to get really outlandish and exaggerated with my parable, simply to show the stark contrast between a story like that, and the every day story we experience in our day-to-day lives. Although the story is plausible, statistically, it is a far fetched reality for most of the 7.8 Billion of us.
If you need somebody, anybody; some thing, anything, in order to feel alive, happy or productive in your life... be careful. You're setting yourself up for misery. While it's awesome to love, have goals for loved ones and do everything out of and for love; the only basket you want all your eggs in, is yourself. Of course, if you believe in a Creator, then your Creator and yourself. The point is, if your happiness depends on anyone or anything outside of yourself, there's a huge possibility that if and when that "something" or "someone" is no longer there, you'll collapse.
See, let's say if I did everything that I did in life for my mother (as an example), then technically, I never did or do anything for myself. Now, subconsciously, I may start feeling the stress, pressure or burden of living life only for my mother, neglecting myself and the spirit inside of me. Putting a ton of pressure to succeed for her. Again, subconsciously, you might be building resentment and frustration that your goals aren't coming soon enough or at all, which starts to manifest itself in and through your life via anger, frustration, hate, venomous word spewing, bitterness, discontentment and resentment and an overall darkness in your countenance.
Obviously, in this example, I just used my mother... but this can be anyone! You know who that person is in your life, or those people. The moral of the story is that if you hinge your happiness on anything other pleasing you and the spirit inside of you, towards fulfilling your life's purpose, you will always be chasing! Last thing you want in life is to be chasing dreams, people, false hopes and unrealistic goals. Your spirit will remind you every now and then, prompting you in the right direction. When you suppress the spirit of truth that's inside of you; you leave room for many other spirits, just "dying" to find residence in you. One of the first spirits to plague you, is the spirit of sadness. Once the spirit of sadness enters you, all of the others soon follow suite (i.e. spirit or despondency, resentment, meaninglessness, anger, etc., etc. ).
My wife and I love each other like crazy and we've both been great catalyst for each other throughout our 34 years together. However, it would be totally chauvinistic, selfish, and downright egotistical of me if I was the sole reason for her succeeding in her own goals. If I passed away, my wife shouldn't have to live the rest of her life as a miserable middle-aged-woman, regretting all of the times she could have started her own goals, dreams and desires. She should continue her life with the purpose she was created to accomplish. I don't want to be remembered as the guy that impeded my wife's goals and dreams.
Before you go to sleep tonight, assuming you read this whole article, ask yourself; "Have I actually suppressed the spirit I was born with and allowed the spirit of anger, hate, resentment, or sadness to ensnare me, my hopes, dreams and life's purpose?" "Am I the person that even I would hate being around?" "Am I the only person holding myself back and everyone around me knows it but are too afraid to tell me?"
For all my fellow martial artists and even those reading this that are not... Being sad all of the time is not healthy, normal or fun - for anyone. Physiologically, you're actually poisoning yourself (literally) and opening yourself up to all sorts of ailments. Be productive. Set some goals and aim to achieve them. In the grand scheme of things, no one cares that much about you, that they're willing to sacrifice their happiness just be around a goalless, angry, bitter and sad person, that has allowed himself to suppress his true calling in life. If you don't wake up now and realize that you're just not the type of person people want to be around... you will eventually get exactly what you're subconsciously sabotaging yourself with. Be an adult. Wake up now. You can literally change your life if you change your mind. There's no excuse!
If you've ever wondered, even if only for a moment, why others succeed in life, while things just don't come as seemingly easy for you. This book will immediately help you understand how the only one that's ever held you back towards obtaining "the good life" is you. The decisions we've made, we make and continue making in our lives are the only reason[s] you're not where you want to be and very simply, why you are where you are this very day.
This book will show you how we're all born with a power deep in our DNA that helps us rise above any and all of life's challenges. The good news is that we were created with this power and simply need to recognize, activate and apply it in our lives.
Forget about your past mistakes, your past failures and past disappointments. Use the power you currently have at your disposal and decide the life you're going to live.