You know one thing that really baffles and amuses me at the same time? It’s seeing a man, very muscular, well-built, chiseled and sculpted; the kind of man with a body that leaves the rest of us envious (yes, men also envy other men’s bodies, but we quickly get over it when we consider the work involved). And that man suddenly receives a playful punch from his friend and he winces in so much pain that you don’t take him seriously at first –but he’s not joking! Or it comes to helping his friend push a broken-down truck off the road, to the mechanic’s, and he cannot even move the car farther than an inch. Or it comes to lifting heavy stuff in the yard, and he’s the one in the shade ‘supervising’ the rest of the guys.
It makes me wonder how such a guy got so chiseled and buff in the first place. Didn’t he have to go through all the rigor of lifting, pushing and enduring physical pain? How does he get to look so tough on the outside and still be so weak on the inside?
There are lots of “Shortcut to Abs” videos floating around YouTube these days. They show you tricks and ‘hacks’ on how to get six-packs in six weeks, or how to look ‘jacked’ for your next pool party.
These workouts usually don’t focus on developing internal strength. They just focus on the outer areas and tone them well enough to look strong. And lots of guys go for this, because lots of guys want to look strong, chiseled and buff without doing what is really required –the tough work. So they take shortcuts and focus more on looking good than on actually being good.
The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.
If you are constantly looking for shortcuts in a certain area of your life, you can be sure that you are looking for shortcuts in other areas too.
Doing those short-cut-to-abs workouts highlights an attitude of ‘getting something for nothing’ in you, and that attitude would transfer into other areas of your life. You would actually start losing the patience and discipline that it takes to get the most out of life. And you can’t afford that. You don’t want to become one of those ever unhappy, entitled people that think the world owes them. They are never happy, they are never fulfilled.
I have a mesomorph body type, and so I have a natural tendency to be fit and relatively muscular. I’m athletically built and any little workout would accentuate my muscles and give off the impression that I’m such a man of steel, meanwhile ordinary soccer, I’ll be out of breath in no time.
So, yes of course, I subscribed to those hack videos and was on my way to getting my six-packs in six weeks. I mean, wouldn’t you…especially if you saw the potential of getting it even quicker with your body type?
However, I paused for a minute and decided to think long-term. Was it better to take care of the outside and ignore your inner core? Did it matter more what people thought about me than what I actually knew about myself? Is a cup that shines on the outside of any use if it’s filthy on the inside?
For some reason, I came to understand that inner health was supposed to be the focus of physical exercise, while outer appearance was only a by-product of this –just physical evidence that you’ve gone through non-physical (and lasting) growth. It’s an external manifestation of an internal process.
So, I started swimming instead. I took swimming lessons, learned to swim and started swimming regularly as my exercise, as my own workout. Swimming works out the whole body, as you move every part of it. The only thing is that it doesn’t make you look ‘jacked’ –at least not initially –but your internal core would be worked on and that alone can keep paying off way into the future.
When he found out that I was swimming regularly, my eighty-one year old dad told me that I would thank my aged self for this decision if I kept it up. I think I’ll listen to my father instead of the other guys who want me to accompany them to the gym for “insane workouts”. He advised to just remain consistent. I didn’t have to do any hardcore swimming that would rock my body one day and then forget swimming for the rest of the month, like so many people do. But I was to just maintain my regular schedule and be consistent at it, no matter the speed, no matter the number of laps. That way, I would build an internal resilience, which would slowly but surely show up externally with time.
Character is built the same way. The way you act outwardly or physically, is only an outward or physical manifestation of what you have cultivated internally.
When a man engages in sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence, it is evidence that he has not practiced self control. This lack of self control in the one area would carry onto other areas of his life. Instead of saving up to purchase a car, for example, he rather obtains a car loan; instead of maintaining a lane in traffic, he switches lanes repeatedly and blares his horn whenever the red traffic light turns yellow.
He has not cultivated the internal resilience, patience and discipline needed to actually get the best out of life in the most fulfilled way. He is used to shortcuts –getting whatever he wants without giving much in return. He has the “something for nothing” mentality and thinks of himself only, for the most part. He’s just a guy with perhaps a lot of outer physical strength, but with terrible inner weakness.
We must keep working on our core –practicing personal development, paying attention to what we hear, read or watch, and the associations we keep because those things either make or break us. They form our internal core/character and, sooner than later, that internal character will manifest outwardly and catch up with us.
So, we may dress nice, smell good, get a fresh haircut, be romantic and put on some swag –all on the outside. But if we don’t take care of our insides, we will soon appear like those men with six-pack abs, who cannot help their friend push his broken-down truck off the road, let alone to the mechanic’s.
They have focused so much on sculpting the external body that they’ve neglected to build the internal muscle required to be of use to others and indeed to themselves.
Instead of putting on those external things first, why don’t we practice godliness, self control, and respect for others? Why don’t we focus on those internal daily disciplines that produce much more gain for others and for ourselves?
Sculpting and chiseling your body is good, it’s appealing to the eyes but if you have nothing to offer in terms of character, integrity, patience, loyalty and all the valuable non-physical stuff, when it comes to relating with other people, then of what use is your sculpted and well dressed body?
It literally profits only you. You have a temporary good feeling from the looks you get from admiring eyes, than the permanent fulfilled feeling you would get by meeting others’ needs with the good things you have cultivated and sculpted on the inside. That is greater profit –for you and for others. Bodily exercise profits only a little –perhaps only you –but godliness with self control is of much greater gain.