Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Training Mentality - Part 2 - Wants, needs, and desires

When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, 'Oh yes - I already have everything that I really need.' -- Dalai Lama

Depending on where you are in life, this saying from the Dalai Lama can be construed as either a positive thing, or a negative thing.

Contentment can be a very good thing in regards to life.  When you feel like you have enough money, don't desire a bigger home, or a better car, and feel perfectly comfortable with what your life looks like in that regard.  That indeed can be a very beautiful thing.

In fact, finding contentment in those areas is usually the goal of many.  Most of us want to make enough money to live a comfortable life, and ease the stress and strain that comes from financial woes or burdens.  It's why many people work jobs that they don't really love, but give them a life outside of work they can be happy with.  And for many, that's enough.

On the flip side of that, finding contentment can be a very bad thing in terms of training.

Contentment is the absolutely enemy of desire.

Contentment will snuff out desire and take away every ounce of your passion for a need in your life.  It will dilute all of your "needs" and turn them into "wants".

At first, you may not think that's a very big difference.  But make no mistake, the difference between a want and a need are monumental.

Wants are made up of dreams, hopes, and wishes.  They are often legless and fleeting in our thoughts.  They don't envelope us or manipulate our habits.  They are just things that "would be nice".

"I want that Viper."

"I want to take a vacation."

"I want a million dollars."

"I want to bench press 405."

It'd be nice to have all of those things, but they don't consume us and they don't drive us the way a need does.

Generally, a "want" is something we'd like to do, or like to have, but eh, it's just not gonna happen right now and really, there may not be any urgency associated with it.

"I want to pay my mortgage."

That statement probably signifies that said person doesn't have the money to do so, and has no way to make it happen.  "Maybe it will fall in my lap.  Or I will win the lottery this week."

There are no plans made, and because it's a "want" it's just a passing thought in their mind.

Needs on the other hand, are an entirely different animal.

Needs are made up of necessity, and desire.  Needs are something we are actually working towards, or are making choices about so that we see it come to fruition.

"I need to make a million dollars."

There's probably a reason behind that statement.  It has purpose.  Thus, there will be plans made, priorities changed, and there will be an enormous amount of drive and purpose associated with it.  In very plain terms, there is a REASON for the need.

Wants typically have no reasoning other than coveting.  But needs are encased in purposeful actions.  We may want that Viper, but ehhh, I can't really afford it right now, and what the hell am I really going to do with it anyway?

If one NEEDS a Viper, it probably means they have intentions of doing something with it after purchase.  Like taking it to the track, or using it to pick up hot babes.

With a want, complacency will often whisper in our ear why it's not a necessity.  That we're already good enough.  That we can rest on our laurels, and be perfectly happy with all of the things we've already accomplished.  And once again, depending on the context of that, it can be a very good thing.  But in the realm of trying to become a better lifter, it is literally your number one enemy.

A "want" will tell us to slow down, relax, don't push too hard and don't stress too much.

A "need" is driven by desire and passion, and it will consume us and drive us to see things out until they are accomplished, and yet also leave us wanting for more.

I've been caught in the "need" world before.  Sometimes you don't realize it until enough time passes by and you wake up one morning and realize that you haven't made any significant progress in a very long time.  You realize you've been on auto-pilot in the gym.  Simply going through the motions because of the habitual nature of it all.  No different than you end up in the grocery store a few times a week to grab the same shit you've been grabbing for years on end.

We become the lifting version of robots.  Showing up, doing the work we always do, checking out when we're done.  There's no REAL purpose.  There's no real desire to improve, and there's no real passion driving us any longer.

Deep down inside, we tell ourselves in a very small voice...."this is as good as I'm ever going to get."

And like's gone.

We still go to the gym, and we still put in the work, but it's not the same as it was 5, 10, 15 years ago.  All of the "need" has been emptied out of us, and complacency has replaced it with wants.  There's no self examination anymore.  We're not introspective about why things aren't getting better.  We shackle ourselves to the sisters of mediocrity and contentment and are just fine being their slave.

Breaking the chains is not hard.  It simply requires one to wake up realize there is so much more that CAN be accomplished.  It may require a dramatic change in training or diet, or a complete paradigm shift in everything you used to believe about training.  I know it did for me.  Once I came to terms with the fact all the things that got me to where I was could no longer take me to where I needed to be, I overhauled everything.  And that's how Base Building was born.  And once I saw progress again, it invigorated me in a way I had not felt in years.  And soon, PR's started falling like clockwork.

Was it Base Building that did it, or was it just the catalyst that set my passion back in motion?

It's hard to say.  What I do know is, it stomped out all of my wants, and all of my NEEDS returned waving a Claymore and screaming a war cry that sounded a lot like..."fuck complacency!"

All of us will go through this at some point in our training life, if we stay with it long enough.  You'll wake up one day and realize you just haven't gotten any better in a long time.  And at that crossroads, you'll accept that the things you used to need are no longer that important, or you'll dick punch yourself for letting that mentality creep in for so long, and climb back on that horse and start riding again.


  1. "And at that crossroads, you'll accept that the things you used to need are no longer that important, or you'll dick punch yourself for letting that mentality creep in for so long, and climb back on that horse and start riding again."

    I love it when you confirm my thoughts. I feel like im heading in the right direction in life

  2. Self Dick Punch! Love it! No sleeping in tomorrow instead of training.