The Invention of Self

Who ARE you, really?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about searching for meaning or any other Viktor Frankl-type stuff.
It’s human nature to be dissatisfied with yourself. That’s why we’re talking about it.
CatalystGym is built for exercise, but the Catalyst way is really the pursuit of joy. The path includes physical exercise, service to others…but also the willingness to look WITHIN and ask, “Anybody home?”
We’re all dysmorphic – we see our bodies differently than others do. We see our behaviors differently, because we understand our intent and no one else does. Unfortunately, we also beat ourselves up when we think we’re unloved, misunderstood or just plain ugly.
The path to joy doesn’t start with the motivation to improve. It STARTS with finding tiny little “wins”. Success comes before motivation; it has to. So our gym focuses on achievement, not reps. We celebrate bright spots instead of keeping a giant scorecard. In the never-ending process of reinvention, physical activity can be the Catalyst (get it now?) and a lifetime measuring stick.
Creating yourself–finding joy and health and service–doesn’t end with exercise, but it’s a great place to start. If you’re dissatisfied with your life, don’t buy a sports car, quit your job or have an affair–learn to squat. Start with something solid: a tiny thing that changes your course by one degree.
When I was in high school, I was not an athlete. I was probably the furthest thing from an exerciser: skinny, weak, looked like a nerd but didn’t care enough to get good grades. That led to a lot of self-esteem problems. For me, the change started when a friend dragged me into the weight room at CASS because there was literally nothing else to do. There were a thousand other little critical pieces that brought me to my current life, but that was the first pivot point.
Was I good at exercising on that first day? That’s funny. I was self-conscious and terrified. But I got some positive feedback and showed up again on the second day. And THAT is why I started Catalyst: to get you to the second day, or the second step, or the NEXT you.
There’s no such thing as “reinventing” yourself, because the process of self-creation is never over. You’re never a finished product, no matter how much hairspray you use. Everything changes, including you, and if you think it’s “too late” to change yourself–well, you’re the only one who does.
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk, is supposed to have said, “The bad news is that we’re in a free fall. The good news is that there’s no bottom.”
I prefer to think that I’m constantly climbing, but there’s no TOP. I take satisfaction from looking back and seeing all the tiny steps, and then find joy in the knowledge that I’ll never bonk my head on anything. Self-invention is constant; it’s not an endpoint.
To quote another famous philosopher (Miley Cyrus) : “It’s the climb.”
Your homework: Take a half hour today to write a letter to your former self. What advice would you give to yourself as a teenager? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? What would you do differently…and, most importantly, what would you do exactly the same?

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