it was 2 years ago when I decided to really get my life together, because I realized it was either save myself or burn.

In the beginning, I was miserable mostly 9 days out of 10. This is demonstrable because I coded my emotions in a spreadsheet and gave them numerical values. There were days when I’d eat cheetos and drink wine and sob. Or chug vodka and run around a golf course at night.

But I realized that I could save myself, and the tiniest amount of hope pried my eyes open. That’s what kept me going forward.

The way to happiness is through the integration of reality. Only by seeing what’s real do we have the ability to change it. Only by opening our eyes and touching the earth do we understand our place in it and what’s possible. Then we gain the ability to move through it.

I have seen no other way to happiness.

Every time I’ve had a setback, it’s because I’ve forgotten that.

I’ve forgotten that the power to control myself rests within myself, and nobody else.

In phase 1 I was so disconnected that every day I spent focused effort connecting with reality. I’d meditate, spend time outside touching the earth, spend days ditching work to go swim with my dogs and hike around Austin. If I didn’t want to work, I usually didn’t. I’d go eat ramen and sake in the middle of the day. I’d play video games for four days straight. What was important in phase 1 was that I allowed myself to be happy.

In phase 2, I took everything I learned in phase 1, but also began to integrate more discipline, specifically in writing, and also learning a martial arts.

The martial arts was an important part of me becoming my best self. It was the most demonstrable idea of body and mind converging as one. It was how I knew I was going to structure my life to give myself the mental space to accomplish what I wanted.

I’m currently in phase 2.

Now most days I get up, eat my breakfast, write, work-out, walk the dogs, clean the house, rest for a bit, go to martial arts, and cook dinner. I’ll rest on the weekends and have the odd day off, but most days I spend working.

It’s in the action and the flow that I find immediate relief from my stress and guilt. Because I understand I’m doing exactly what I was designed to do.

And after I’ve done 50 roundhouse kicks and I can feel the muscles in my legs burning, I realize that doing the hard thing is easy.

I’ve seen the path toward giving up: It’s a gray road in a quiet storm, and it kills you with its acidic touch.

Giving up is what’s hard.
And accepting a lesser version of myself is what’s hard.
And regret is what’s hard.
Sweat, and good pain, and having to count my protein macros because I want to be stronger, and lifting weights, and practicing the same kick over and over again, and writing even when I don’t feel like it, and doing the hard work even when I feel lonely, that’s easy compared to the life laid out for me if I didn’t do any of those things.

It’s a reality that’s clear to me as breathing.

I still have bad days, but they are no longer 9 out of 10. Now they are closer to 1 out of 10.

And understanding is the key. It always has been.

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