Strength and Character

Being Physically Strong

People like the idea of being strong. We like the idea of being fit, of being in shape. We like to look good to ourselves and to others, either fully clothed or in some state of undress. If we are in shape, we like the feeling of being in shape. We like it when people notice we are in shape, or in better shape than we used to be, or when we are told we look good “for our age.”

We like the confidence that comes with being in shape.

Now, maybe there are some people who don’t want to be in shape, who don’t want the accompanying feelings of well-being and confidence that come with being in shape. But I bet those people are in the minority. I mean, really, who wants to be unhealthy?

Sure, a lot of folks seem to live their lives as if their ultimate goal is to be unhealthy, but I strongly doubt that’s their ultimate goal. I would guess that their goals include pleasure and enjoyment, but they misguidedly think that the way to get there is through eating and drinking too much bad stuff or not enough good stuff and sitting on their behinds all day.

Those people are mistaken.

No Magic Pill

So, I am going to assume that that vast majority of people would like to be in shape. And I also believe that a lot of people who are not in good shape, if you invented a magic pill that would instantly turn them from skinny or fat or weak or whatever into TOTALLY JACKED, they would probably take it, as long as the side effects weren’t too crazy – but maybe even then.

There are a lot of excuses – and some of them are good excuses – for why some given person isn’t in good shape. But there is no magic pill. And I am only an amateur dabbler in science, but I would bet a lot of cold hard cash against there ever being a magical “take this and get in great shape now” pill.

So, what are your options?

It takes hard work to get in good shape, especially if you have let yourself over the years get out of shape. A lot of people when they’re young are just in pretty decent shape because they’re young. The whole system we call our body just generally works better.

But it declines with age. Organs don’t function as well, muscle mass dwindles away, flab builds up in all kinds of places, the joints ache. And on top of that, the MIND can begin to suffer. (Of course, the “mind” is a part of the body. I discuss this issue a bit in another posting.)

Three Things to Do

So, maybe you wake up one day and realize you feel bad, maybe you “feel your age,” as they say. You might then say to yourself: “I need to get in shape!” And, since there is no magic pill, this is where you have to get MOTIVATED.

There are a lot of good reasons to get in shape (which I also will discuss in a future blog), but ultimately the motivation will have to come from inside of you.

But, if you can get motivated, you really only need to do three things to get in shape, to create your strength:

  1. Eat well.
  2. Exercise well.
  3. Rest well.

Wow! That’s easy, right? But if it’s so easy – and it ain’t rocket surgery, folks! – then why isn’t everyone in shape? Well, it takes more than knowing the words. We need to be able to sing the song. And that requires more than a gym membership and a two-kilo container of protein powder. It takes CHARACTER.

And what do I mean by saying that getting in and staying in good physical shape requires character?

Being Ethically Strong

For millennia, philosophers have talked about and debated the traits of character that make you a good person and that help you to have a good life. These traits of character are often called the virtues.

There are many different traits of character that people might have, but four have stood the test of time as being super important to having a good life. Each one of these has application to creating strength, in the gym and elsewhere.

What are these four traits? They are:

  1. Courage. We have to face our fears to create strength. Trying something we have never done can be scary. If you’ve never been in a gym before, you might feel intimidated there. And even after you’ve been training, ever new challenge presents new risks. “That weight’s heavy,” you’re thinking. “How can I possibly move that?” It we have courage we will take the risks. We will face out fears and act.
  2. Prudence. This is practical wisdom. It is good judgment. We have to choose the right role models and right exercises and programs if we want to create strength. This goes right along with courage, because we don’t want to be reckless and get ourselves injured. We have to choose when to be brave.
  3. Temperance. Self-control is necessary when it comes to diet, rest, and training consistency. We also must be temperate when it comes to alcohol and drugs, including the performance-enhancing kind. This also ties back to prudence, since we need to know when enough is enough.
  4. Justice. We should respect others in the gym, at home, and everywhere else. They have their rights and we have our obligations. For starters, put your equipment away. (And, yes, I discuss this in a future blog posting.)

Creating Strength through Goodness

So, these are just a few ways that good character ties in with getting stronger and being in shape. Ethical goodness and physical fitness are necessarily joined together in the whole person.

If you want to be successful in life – inside and outside the gym – you need to have good character. Like a lot of things worth doing, that takes commitment and practice.

I am always interested in in comments or suggestions you may have. Please post them below.

Let’s create strength!

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