Book notes - The object is the way
12 Aug 2019
The following notes are based on The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.
One of the most empowering things that we can do is to ask ourselves what it is that we personally can do to improve our own lives, in big but more importantly, in small ways.
There isn't a single person on this earth who hasn't experienced suffering in one way or another. Most everyone you meet will have some kind of problem that is causing them pain or worry. That is normal. What isn't normal, what isn't easy, is consistently taking action to change things for the better. In order to take better action, you have to think better thoughts. You have to challenge the paralysis that freezes your mind and body when you come across an obstacle that seems impossible to overcome. It's time to turn your obstacles into gateways to a better life.
You might be unemployed, stuck in a dead-end job, trapped in a relationship you don't want, sick, tired, struggling with mental health issues. Most of us experience one or more of these things. Life can be incredibly hard, but you have at least a tiny bit of control that you can exercise. You have a tiny part of yourself that you can hold onto, and pull yourself up with. A part that will expand in the same way that your muscles grow when you exercise them.
There are two things that we have the ability to change, right now. Your attitude and your approach. It isn't as easy as just making a snap decision to just be a happier person who has their shit together. Though that is an excellent place to start. Instead, you have to be prepared to take the difficult path, which is where you become relentlessly persistent in your efforts to see the advantages in every obstacle, and turn those advantages into action plans that you make happen.
There are four different categories of obstacles that you will encounter in your life: Mental, emotional, physical and perceived obstacles. Today, most of the obstacles you encounter in life are internal, not external.
List all of the things that are holding you back right now. Include mental, physical, emotional and perceived obstacles in this list.
To overcome the obstacles you listed above, you will need to cultivate an inner will that will allaw you to handle defeat, setbacks and difficulties. Three tools that will help you learn to do this are: Perception, Action and Will.
Perception is how we interpret the things that happen to and around us. We automatically make judgements based on years of experiences. We are constantly comparing current events to every event that we have ever experienced, along with the emotions associated with those past experiences. This is not something that we can control. So we have to learn to seperate reliable signals from the deceptive signals. We have to learn to identify the objective truth, as if the events were happening without our participation or existence within them.
Take one of the problems from the list of obstacles you listed earlier. Imagine that you no longer exist, that the problem does not apply to you. Imagine that the problem is dangling there in thin air and that anyone can claim it as their own.
Take one of the problems from the list of obstacles you listed earlier. Imagine that you no longer exist, that the problem no longer applies to you. Now that this problem is not tied to anyone or anything, imagine all of the possible ways this problem could be resolved. There are unlimited resources now that it no longer belongs to you. Can you imagine 50 different ways this problem could dissappear? What would the avengers do to solve this problem? What would your role models do, what if a small child was experiencing the same problem, what would you do to try and make it dissappear for them?
Now take a moment to imagine that this problem is no longer a problem for you, you survived it. What did you learn from this problem? How did it make you a better, stronger, wiser person? List all of the benefits that came from this problem. Really try to list as many as you can. See the silver lining and collect enough of it to melt down and mould into some kind of masterpiece.
There is always a countermove, always an escape or a way through
Controlling your emotions
One of the best things you can learn to do is not to react to the situations that you find yourself in, but to instead react to your reactions to those situations.
Writing in progress...