Sunday, December 9, 2018

Training Articles From a Single Magazine - Part Seven

Skip LaCour

Happiness is Victory

Do you ever feel like an oddball when you're around people who don't train or work out? Do you find that, no matter how hard you try to explain the happiness you get from your disciplined lifestyle, they just don't get it? "Why in the world would you subject yourself to such torture?" is a question you've probably been asked.

Bodybuilding's bad reputation in the eyes of the general public doesn't help you get the respect you deserve either. Most "regular" people incorrectly assume that you're a bodybuilder because you're narcissistic or are making up for some inadequacies in your life. People don't always realize that you simply enjoy the physical and mental challenges of our sport.  

Many people around don't understand why bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts would dedicate so much time and effort to depriving themselves of life's pleasures. "That working out stuff is not my priority in life. I'd rather be having fun with my friends" and "I couldn't eat the way you do - it's boring and I love food too much!" are comments you've probably heard more than once or twice.

Why do we even care what those around us think or say? To some degree, we as humans need to be accepted by others. It's much easier to do what everyone else is doing and simply go with the flow. In the short run it's often more comfortable to adapt to the lower standards of those around you.

Nevertheless, we also need to feel special, unique or important in some way. I'm sure that being a model of health and fitness makes you feel great, doesn't it? If you're lucky enough to accomplish your goal of becoming something special in some way, you'll surely disconnect yourself from some of the people around you. Even if that's not your intention, some folks will become uncomfortable in your presence and shy away - if you're lucky. If you're not so lucky, you can probably expect a few verbal jabs directed at you and what you're passionate about in life.

By choosing to live the bodybuilding lifestyle, we are often faced with an unfortunate dilemma. How can we enjoy our passion for training and fitness without feeling out of sync with the rest of the world? Those two human needs always seem to battle each other. You're often forced to make a decision between working toward your passion or being accepted. That dilemma can ruin the happiness you get from your bodybuilding efforts if you let it.

If you experience that type of pain from time to time, you aren't alone. I've struggles with those feelings on many occasions throughout my life. Let me try to offer a point of view that can help you work through the challenge.

In life, you have pleasure and you have victory. Pleasurable events are things like going to movies, parties or out to dinner with friends. Receiving great gifts for no reason at all is something that brings pleasure.

As a hardworking bodybuilder you often feel victory. Victory comes when you string a series of good training weeks and eating habits together and earn the satisfaction of seeing what you've created in the mirror. Victory comes when you've worked hard at your job or studied diligently at school and are rewarded with a raise or an outstanding grade.

Pleasurable events don't necessarily make you happy. Studies that have followed lottery winners have shown that many of them are less happy after winning a tremendous amount of money, despite the vacation, cars and other extravagances that newfound wealth affords them. Maybe if they earned the money to purchase those luxuries they would feel victory.

Training at 5 a.m. is one decision I made years ago that has had a tremendous impact on the quality of my life. The greatest benefits I enjoy have nothing to do with my natural growth hormones supposedly being at their highest at that time or the fact that I'll burn more calories throughout the day. The feeling of accomplishment, or victory, that I've earned after an awesome workout gets my day off to a great start. Simply knowing that I've already accomplished something that 99% of the population knows they should do but don't gives me the feeling of being unique. It's a mental boost that gives me momentum for the rest of the day.

Pleasure is a much more passive pursuit than victory. Most of the time, all you need to do is sit back and be entertained. Pursuing victory is the road less traveled. Why? Victory requires virtues such as courage, patience, persistence, discipline and faith. Victory demands hard work. Pleasure is instant gratification. In order to experience victory, you must first pay the price.

Don't get me wrong. I believe you should spice up your life with as many pleasurable events as possible. There's definitely a place for balance in life. If, however, you make attaining pleasure your ultimate goal and expect it to bring you happiness, you'll be in for a rude awakening.

There are many people who spend most of their time avoiding defeat. What they don't realize is that they're also cutting off all possibility of victory. The possibility of failure is always present when you're pursuing victory, but you must exhibit courage, confidence and faith if you ever want to be happy. You need to sacrifice short term safety for long term happiness.

Choose the people you associate with wisely. Can you imaging spending the majority of your time with people who don't understand or who reject the one aspect of life that brings you so much happiness? I had the unfortunate experience of having someone very close to me say, "Skip, you don't know how to have fun!"

Don't know how to have fun? Me? My work is my play. I have the opportunity to live my passion. I also have the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge with others. How can I not be having fun?

The truth is that it's not the discipline and self-sacrifice of bodybuilding that brings me the most unhappiness. It's trying to fit into a world that has no idea what makes me happy. It's individuals who want to force me into their definition of happiness.

The incident with the friend who said I don't know how to have fun made me realize something that I probably already knew. Happiness is not pleasure. Happiness is victory. The epiphany was kind of freeing in a way. I hope it has the same effect on you.

Do you ever see little kids who have mastered video games? They're fearless. They're jumping over flying objects, destroying evil villains and racking up awesome scores.

One little guy I know was playing one of those games. I pushed him aside and jokingly said, "Hey, give me a chance! I'll show you how to play this game!" I grabbed the controls and started maneuvering. I started jumping and wildly shooting. The kid was laughing his head off as I was annihilated within seconds.

"No, no, Skip!" he screamed. "You don't want to run away from that type of monster!"

"What are you talking about?" I said. "I thought I was supposed to run away or kill the monsters."

"Not those ones," he said. "When you eat those monsters, they make you stronger and you get to play longer. You'll win if you eat enough of those monsters!"

There was little chance of my winning at that video game. Although I was smart enough to know I was supposed to avoid monsters, I didn't know which ones would help me.

Too many people play the game of life that way. They know happiness is what they're supposed to be after, but they have no clue as to how to attain it. They're running away from the "monsters" that they perceive as potentially harmful. They don't understand that if they face the challenge, they'll become stronger and have a better chance of being happy. Instead, they spend their time seeking pleasurable events and can't figure out why they're unhappy.

So maybe you've had the right ideas all along with this disciplined bodybuilding lifestyle. Maybe you understand something about life that they don't. Maybe you should take even more pride in what you're passionate about doing.

One last point. As you hope the people around you understand your passion for bodybuilding, be sure you give that understanding back. They, too, have passions, whether it's politics, computers, reading, fixing up old cars or basket weaving. Don't ever force your ambivalent or negative feelings on anyone else. Those vehicles may provide them with some awesome victories. You could be lessening their happiness in life - and you know how that feels.


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