all posts tagged 'mental toughness'

Conan O’Brien Doesn’t Matter

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I'm a sucker for profiles on people like Conan O'Brien. The way his mind works is endlessly fascinating to me.

What intrigued me about this particular New York Times piece is his observations on agony:

Many comedians see a connection between misery and their ability to be funny, often citing humor as a survival mechanism. But after considerable therapy and reflection, O’Brien has changed his mind. He’s come to believe that not only are they not related at all, but so much stress didn’t help him be funnier. With new eyes, he has set about creating a new story. “Looking back now, I think some of my best ideas came from just goofing around,” he told me.

He points to possibly his most celebrated writing credit: the monorail episode of “The Simpsons,” which many television critics agree is the greatest in the history of the show. He describes its origins in an Olympic Boulevard billboard for a monorail, leading him to write on a legal pad: “Springfield gets a monorail. Homer likes the idea. Marge not so sure. First act: ‘Music Man.’ Second: Irwin Allen parody.”

He brought this pitch to the “Simpsons” office, writers liked it and started adding jokes. “It was like falling off a log,” he said. No agonizing at all.

I have a ton of quotes on the main page of this site1, and one of them is from Eckhart Tolle: "Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary."

The more I agonize over my own life choices and what's next for me, the more I realize that I just need to let go. It's a constant push/pull; you have to be both unabashedly dogged in your pursuit of what you want, but you also need to be chill about it.

  1. Conan is in this rotation twice now, and one of those quotes came from this article, so thanks, Conan! 

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What Courtney Dauwalter Learned in the Pain Cave

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In 2020, when Hicks set the fastest known supported women’s time in a roughly 90-mile challenge called Nolan’s 14, which involves hiking and running 14 14,000-foot mountains, Dauwalter paced her through the night, telling jokes and stories to make the time pass. Around midnight, she asked Hicks if she wanted a bite of pizza and pulled out a slice wrapped in tinfoil from her pack.

The legend of Courtney continues to grow. If you are unfamiliar with the accomplishments of this Minnesota native, go look them up.

Just reading this article makes me want to dust off my running shoes and get a hundred miler under my belt.

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I’ll Tell You the Secret of Cancer

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Coscarelli told me that, over the years, many wonderful and generous women had come to her clinic, and some of them had died very quickly. Yikes. I had to come clean: Not only was I un-wonderful. I was also kind of a bitch.

God love her, she came through with exactly what I needed to hear: “I’ve seen some of the biggest bitches come in, and they’re still alive.”

And that, my friends, was when I had my very first positive thought. I imagined all those bitches getting healthy, and I said to myself, I think I’m going to beat this thing.

This whole article is good advice for those of us who have never had cancer.

Hell, this is good advice for life in general. Everyone deals with different situations in life, and how they persevere is just as unique.

It’s more important to learn how to show up for those you care about than it is to push your opinions on them.

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Eliud Kipchoge: Inside the camp, and the minds, of the greatest marathon runner of all time

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In his 2006 essay, ‘Roger Federer as Religious Experience’, the late, great American writer David Foster Wallace wrote that “beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty”.

“It might be called kinetic beauty,” he added. “Its power and appeal are universal.”

Watch Kipchoge run, and you’ll see his point. It’s difficult to find a sportsperson so impossibly suited to his craft, as if his entire reason for being is to coast over the ground at 4:40 per mile, a pace that for most would feel like a sprint.

But when Kipchoge does it, his head has virtually no vertical motion, his face so relaxed that he looks bored. His arms hang loose, swinging casually, his fingers in a gentle tuck, as if holding an invisible stick. His feet don’t so much hit the ground as stroke it, his toes pushing off the road with the elegant, balletic grace of a dancer.

Kipchoge is to marathon running as Jordan is to basketball, Williams is to tennis, and Gretzky is to hockey: an absolute monster, unquestioned in their supremacy.

Have you ever run a mile in four minutes and forty seconds? How about 26.2 of them back to back?

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How People Learn To Be Resilient

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Human beings are capable of worry and rumination: we can take a minor thing, blow it up in our heads, run through it over and over, and drive ourselves crazy until we feel like that minor thing is the biggest thing that ever happened.

In a sense, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow.

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Personal Renewal

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Nothing is ever finally safe. Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail.

You may wonder if such a struggle -- endless and of uncertain outcome -- isn't more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human spirit is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world.

It was very hard to pull a single quote out of this speech. If you’re struggling in life right now, reading this will help.

Edit from the future: I just realized I shared this twice in, like, two weeks haha! Here's the pull quote I used from the other sharing. I guess this is just a sign that this speech really is amazing.

If we are conscious of the danger of going to seed, we can resort to countervailing measures. At almost any age. You don’t need to run down like an unwound clock. And if your clock is unwound, you can wind it up again. You can stay alive in every sense of the word until you fail physically. I know some pretty successful people who feel that that just isn’t possible for them, that life has trapped them. But they don’t really know that. Life takes unexpected turns.

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How To Simplify Your Life

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It's well understood by good parents that life should only get so exciting for a baby.

After friends have come around and brought presents and made animated faces, after there's been some cake and some cuddles, after there've been a lot of bright lights and perhaps some songs too, enough is enough.

The baby will start to look stern, and then burst into tears, and the wise parents knows that nothing is particularly wrong, though the baby may by now be wailing.

It's just time for a nap.

The brain needs to process, digest, and divide up the wealth of experiences that have been ingested.

Boy, this hit home. It's a short video, but I kept finding myself saying "hmm, that sure makes an awful lot of sense."

I particularly liked the bit about needing to have 10 minutes to digest an hours worth of activity. I think that's why I love going on walks so much.