For those of you who are my Facebook friends, (and maybe even to those of you who aren’t) it will come as no surprise that I frequently post “inspirational” sayings. Some of them are funny, as well. Or at least I find them funny. Some of you have told me (thank you!!) that reading these posts actually does inspire you, which is all I could hope for.
Of course, I’m not always feeling inspirational, and sometimes even I read those sayings and think yeah, right, because I’m caught up in a mood or a thought or whatever. But generally, I snap back to the optimistic mode, because as I told someone long ago, no one has given me a better option so far.
One of my Facebook friends posted on the topic of inspirational sayings, and he mentioned a phrase I liked. Naturally, I asked his permission to use it (and his story) here. He kindly consented. I appreciate that, because we really don’t know each other that well, and have not seen each other since high school. He hopes his story might help someone else, and I hope so too.
“The 4 Ps” – PERSISTENT POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE = PROGRESS. Nice, isn’t it? And it’s alliterative, too!
Notice the word “perfection” is not anywhere in there. Perfection is a waste of time! You’ll never get there, really. There’s always something more to do, and be. And when we fall short of “perfection” we beat ourselves up, when as I’ve noted before, “excellent”, “awesome”, “pretty good”, or even “good enough” will often do just fine.
Here’s the story (dramatically truncated) = he tells me he had a wake-up call about 4 years ago (he’s my age, which is to say, 29. Ha ha. Okay, 41. So that makes him 37 when his story starts. At the time, he and his wife had a failing marriage and two young children (aged 4 and 2). He was about 40 pounds overweight, and generally felt crummy, to put it mildly.
He went to the doctor because he had been having chest pains. During his stress test, he was asked, “When did you have your heart attack?” His reaction was “What heart attack??” Uh huh. He had a heart attack, and hadn’t known it. He discussed the test results with his doctor and was basically told that if he didn’t make some changes, he had about 5 years to live. And from the sound of it, they weren’t going to be pleasant years.
So he had a decision to make; actually LOTS of decisions to make. He wrote, I’d think about my daughter walking down the aisle at her wedding, without me. I thought about the things I’ve learned from my Father about being a man and a father, and my son sitting alone with no one to teach him. I would literally cry while working out thinking about all these things. And sometimes, I’d be so mad at myself for letting things get so bad, that the anger would fuel me for 2-3 hour workouts.
And what to do about his marriage, which was still falling apart? He decided that he had to focus on one thing at a time, and that he had to get healthy to be there for his kids, even if he couldn’t salvage his marriage. He got busy learning about exercise and nutrition, and that actually became the starting point for renewing his relationship with his wife. Over time, bit by bit, he got healthier and healthier. He is now strong and fit, a veritable nutrition guru, and his family is intact and better than ever.
Another quote: I honestly can say that exercise saved my life, and not just by keeping me alive, but by helping me keep my family, which is the only thing I care about anymore. It’s easier now, because I can look back to where I was and KNOW that it is all achievable, because I’ve done it.
He took pains to note that it has not been an easy road. He’s had several injuries and other physical problems that slowed progress. These forced him to find creative ways to work out or keep his weight at a healthy level. I’m sure there were plenty of emotional challenges as well, and sometimes those are harder to overcome than the physical issues. The list of setbacks was long. I’m sure no one would blame him, had he said that one or the other of these barriers had prevented him from making progress and achieving his goal to be healthy. But he made it through them all. And these are choices we all have to make every day. Again and again.
Persistent positive perspective = progress. We have to believe that what we want in our lives is attainable, and then we have to figure out the steps to get there. Most importantly, we then have to take those steps. Over and over. Even when we don’t want to. Even when barriers are in our way. Every day. Every moment.
Despite the emphasis on exercise and nutrition, you know this post isn’t really about eating right and moving, though that may be the topic of other posts. The real point is that you can scribble out the problems listed above and write in your own. Scribble out those setbacks and pencil yours in. The real point is to keep on, no matter what.
One of my favorite quotes (I don’t think I’ve used it before, but forgive me if I have) is the Japanese proverb, Fall seven times, stand up eight. We will all fall down from time to time. We will all have our doubts, fears, and annoyances. We will all have our what-ifs and our I can’ts and our it’s not fairs. That’s okay. We have to persist, and stay focused on the good in our lives, the moments that work out right, and take every tiny step we can toward that goal.
What will you use the 4Ps for?