Ever seen that film where Bruce Willis ends up meeting a younger version of himself, and child-Willis is really disappointed that he’s a ruthless executive without a wife or a dog? I haven’t, but I got the gist of it from the trailer. It looks rubbish.
It does, however, make a good point. Obviously my 8-year-old self was sort of an idiot – I decide about every three years that I’ve only just stopped being an idiot, and my 8-year old self hadn’t even read The Selfish Gene or realised that Wing Chun doesn’t work, so it’s fair to say he wasn’t operating with a full set of facts. But he had some sensible goals and daydreams, and I think he’d be pretty happy with the way things have turned out.
Now: I don’t know what strength coach Charles Poliquin was like as an 8-year old – he probably still had enormous arms – but these days he recommends making something called a Gratitude List. Essentially, this is a list of things you’re grateful for – whether it’s having great friends and a nice family, living in a lovely safe Western democracy, not having to work in a soul-destroying job or become a pirate because your fishing business has been ruined by foreign trade interests or whatever. Basically, the things that you don’t always appreciate. The point of this is that gratitude’s a mindset that’s incompatible with anger and stress, which cuts down on your body’s emissions of cortisol, keeps you positive, and gives your under-used right brain a workout. Good.
Now. You might be thinking that this is hippy nonsense – but that’s where your 8-year old self comes in. Look at it from that kid’s perspective and the whole process becomes much easier. Personally, if I told my young self the following, I think he’d completely lose his shit:
- You have a lovely girlfriend.
- Your little sister grows up to be fluent in Japanese and Mandarin and an awesome snowboarder. You get on really well.
- By today’s standards, you are amazing at fighting, probably better than about half of the world (this one’s a quirk of BJJ being little-known when I was 8).
- You got some books published, and people think you’re really funny. Sometimes they pay you just for being funny. Crazy.
- You know the karate guy from that arcade game you like, Pit Fighter? You’re built a bit like him. Also, in the future, every single videogame is better than Pit Fighter.
- You’ve been all around the world, fighting and exploring and making friends. You once got to go paragliding off a cliff, and you’ve been on a jet-ski twice. You fell off the second time, but you still probably looked pretty cool.
- Yes, you have to get a job, but to be honest most of the time it doesn’t even feel like work.
Man that kid would love me. Just thinking about it makes me happy.
HOMEWORK: This week, spend five minutes every morning thinking about things that your 8-year old self would be happy about. Share it with other people – especially the subjects of it – if you want, but you don’t have to. But write it down, and focus on it. Be grateful this week. And don’t bother looking up that Bruce Willis film – it’s called The Kid, and it only gets 5.9 on IMDB.