It’s probably taken me a good 30 years but I’ve now started to really embrace the fact that everything in this life is impermanent.
It’s arguably the most basic lesson we learn yet we unfortunately have a knack of learning it the hard way.
There’s not a single thing on this planet that doesn’t have an end date as the law of impermanence will eventually take its course. It truly rules everything.
Moments will come and go. Days and milestones will pass. Our surroundings will change. Our goals will change. Our job will change. The weather will be different tomorrow. People we love and the relationships we have with them will appear and disappear and all the emotions attached to these things will fluctuate and vary – Never to stay the same.
Fortunately or unfortunately (however you choose to look at it) our lives as we know them on earth will be taken away. It’s a somber thought. There’s an automatic resistance there. It’s because we spend all of our conscious time clinging to it only for it to end one day anyway. We don’t have a choice either. It’s a fact. It’s uncomfortable for most people to talk about too. It’s almost a taboo subject as it stirs up emotions that people just aren’t ready to deal with.
However for me, embracing the simple rule that everything will always be changing for the rest of my days and that my time is limited, gives me an enormous amount of freedom and liberty. It makes me appreciate things a lot more and keeps me grounded as I know it will be taken away at some stage.
This doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with the loss of something that can bring me a lot of joy and fulfilment. Not at all. I’m just as susceptible as everyone else. But it is an important tool to have knowing there’s potentially a curve ball right around the corner.
For me dealing with change and loss brings a great opportunity. An opportunity to grow and challenge my way of thinking. I especially like honing my thoughts of impermanence and the strength I get from it whenever I’m having a bad day and I’m stressed or anxious. Telling myself that these emotions won’t be permanent gives me the ability to deal with them a lot easier and not spend too much time getting bogged down by them.
I think what makes the loss of things hard to deal with is the attachments we create to them. We are creatures of habit and as a result we like to create a comfortable and reassuring safety zone within us. To feel safe and secure. Routine is what keeps us sound in some respects so when our routine and what we EXPECT to happen on a daily basis gets challenged it’s interesting how we react to it.
Ever lost your shit when something or someone randomly pops up and throws your whole ‘routine’ out the window?? Even something as simple as this and the stress and angst it creates can drive people insane. It’s because we have attached ourselves to that particular routine and created a meaning behind it.
The older I get, the more life experience I have and the more observation I undertake of how we humans conduct ourselves it’s quite bizarre how we get so attached to things. We’re so bloody clingy.
Life is full of moments to remind us that everything is susceptible to change and everything will transform into something else eventually. Nothing lasts forever. When we try to make impermanent things permanent, we can cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary suffering when they eventually do change.
I want to relate this now back to all of your health and fitness goals and I’m going to put it in a way that will hopefully stir up some thoughts and also challenge you. It may or may not. Depends what mindset you’re in and how much of this you want to take on board I suppose.
I’ll start by sharing an insight into me.
I train 4-5 days per week. I do this every week for pretty much 12 months of the year. Mostly weight training but I’ll throw in some cardio and hiit type training too every now and then to get a decent blowout. Doesn’t matter if the sun is shining, it’s pouring rain or it’s 2 degrees I’ll make time to get my exercise in. Sometimes my workouts are intense, sometimes they are pretty cruisy. Either way they are still productive.
However the biggest difference for me compared to a lot of other people is I don’t need specific training goals to keep me motivated. I don’t care how much I can bench press. I don’t care what my body fat percentage is. I don’t weigh myself. I don’t chase times or pb’s. If someone was to ask what my 1 rep max for a squat is I couldn’t tell them. I’m not the fittest in the room. I’m certainly not the strongest. Doesn’t bother me at all though. I’m happy doing me.
You know why??
It’s because all of these numbers and records and times and weights and percentages are all incredibly impermanent. And they are just that. Numbers. I don’t attach any emotions to them and because of that I don’t waste my time creating any impermanent attachments to them. This means no unnecessary stress. It gives me the freedom to enjoy my training. And because I enjoy it, I do it more consistently which therefore means I reap the rewards from it.
The one and only goal I have is to be able to move my body as freely as I can for as long as I can. It’s as simple as that. I’m well aware that the law of impermanence with be tapping me on the shoulder at some stage down the track to say ‘listen mate, times up’ but I can tell you id rather go about my business that way than constantly worry myself silly about letting numbers define how I’m going.
My point is – be careful getting too caught up in all these silly little goals you may be trying to set yourself. Believe it or not and as funny as it sounds it just might be the stumbling block to you achieving them.
You’ll soon realise that if and when you reach goals you’ve set, you’ll lose them again at some stage too. You’ll also realise the amazing highs that can come with achieving these goals won’t last forever either. Now this doesn’t mean they aren’t worth working for. I’m not saying that – just be aware of the meaning you’re attaching to them isn’t too hard to let go of as you’ll have no choice but to let it be one day.
It’s quite ironic you know – Letting go of feelings and unnecessary attachments to training goals can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding processes you can go through. It makes you appreciate being able to move your body. Letting go also means you let the resistance go of fighting your body. This is actually where the magic happens! Your mind and body will be free to make a change for the better. This includes the results you may have been searching for in the first place!
I want to sum up by saying it’s fine to having training goals and targets along the way. Totally fine! If that’s what gets you through then you do you. It’s also fine to push your bodies boundaries and see where you can really take it. However there is a trade off for the strong attachment to those goals and that’s dealing with the impermanence of it all.
What goes up, must come down.
My tip – let’s exercise, be fit, be healthy and be happy just because ay. You don’t need to do it for any other reason. If you do it consistently enough and for long enough you won’t need fleeting goals to get you by. You also won’t need to get caught up in something that won’t last forever either.
‘’If you have a body, we can help you’’
Infinite Fitness Peninsula