I am pretty happy with my life and my standing on this Earth. I don’t plan on scamming a bunch of Libyan Nationalists out of some weapons-grade plutonium so I can fire 1.21 gigawatts of electricity through the flux capacitor. I do not own a tricked out Delorean, and Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan has not visited me in my bedroom wielding a Walkman.
But take a trip with me if you will back in time down a road of reflection.
Roads…where we’re going we don’t need roads!
Here are five things I would have done differently if I could just get up to 88 miles per hour before I crash into those Indians:
#1 Started resistance training at a young age, like single digits young. Yeah, yeah, I know, lifting weights while you’re growing stunts your growth; and the moon is made out of cheese, and the tooth fairy is real! Someone, please find me a legitimate, scientific study that proves that safe resistance training at a young will leave you unable to get on rides at the amusement park.
I would have told “little me” to do lots of full range of motion squats so I didn’t lose mobility like most of us do over time. I would have found something moderately heavy, picked it up and done plenty of ass-to-grass squats. Why so? Well, because having thighs and hips that can generate power in a hurry, and do it over and over, without getting tired is a benefit in pretty much every sport. I would have done push-ups and pull-ups like a mad man and then found something heavy lying around to pick up and then put back down- over and over again deadlift style. To top it all off, I would have ran hill sprints religiously!
That way, I could always be the kid on the playground that runs faster, jumps higher and throws stuff the furthest. That’s just cool, man! It is not too late, though. Everyone who does not have some crazy injury, illness or condition should be doing resistance training. From little kids to Grandpa, everyone can benefit from being stronger.
#2 Actually tried in school. I don’t think I would have chosen a different profession, and I really enjoy what I do, but there is nothing wrong with having more tidbits of information rolling around upstairs. I got very lucky that even after dropping out of high school twice, I was able to get into college and get my degree. Another positive- the universe may not have hit me with the karma stick and sent me some of the “little darlings” I have in class daily.
Education is so ridiculously important these days, and it is only getting even more important. I spend more time on my education now as an old man than I did as a whipper snapper. It is never too late to turn off the reruns of Friends, pick up a book and increase your intellectual capacities. DO IT!
#3 Listened to older people. This might be another case of what goes around comes around, but I thought I knew it all, when in reality I didn’t know up from down. Older people are smarter than younger people. That’s just natural. Your mom may not be able to beat some pimply kid on the other side of the planet in a game of Gears of War, but that’s not being smart. Older people can teach you a lot if you just give them the time of day and listen to them rather than talk to them. Think about how much more you know today than you did ten years ago. Now, make friends with a couple of people who are decades older than you, and pick their brain. Imagine how much you can improve your life by tapping into the decades of wisdom that is holding up the checkout aisle at the grocery store while you check Facebook for the 17th time today.
#4 Eaten better. If could go back and talk to young me I would have given the following advice that was paraphrased from the father of modern fitness Mr. Jack Lalane: “If man made it-don’t eat it.” Lots of people say they don’t know what to eat to be healthy, but this captures so much of what it takes to ingest quality food. Don’t get me wrong, I ate a lot of really good food cooked in my mum’s kitchen when I was growing up, but I also ate mounds of crap. I thought because I was so active and didn’t develop a belly that it was ok to sit down to a tub of ice cream at night or to drink cans of soda that were loaded with sugar and goodness knows what chemicals. What I didn’t know was how much more energy I would have had, how much better I would have performed athletically,and how much better I would have looked- if instead of eating desert I would have stuffed down extra helpings of meats and vegetables. Is what you’re eating making your life better or worse? I don’t mean for the brief moment that you mush it up in your mouth. I mean your entire life.
#5 Read books. Although I can pretty much go-word-for word along with pretty much any episode of Seinfeld, Simpsons or Friends, I can’t say that being able to do this has in anyway enhanced my life. I didn’t read my first book, cover-to-cover, until I was threatening turning 30. Not for school, not for fun and not just because had I ever read a book. Imagine how much knowledge and perspective you can gain by making use of your library card! In even a small public library there has to be hundreds of thousands of combined experience sitting on the shelves. Jersey Shore, and televisions shows of that ilk, certainly do not appeal to a very intelligent audience, and if you’re not watching them, then don’t start. If you do watch them, it probably behooves you to subscribe to the view that Groucho Marx had on television: “Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
I am sure all of us have things we look back on and wish we could improve upon in our lives. Whether they are physical, fiscal, mental or social regrets, we all have them. But the bad news about this is Doc, Marty and Einstein are not walking through that door. There is nothing we can do about them.
What we can do, though, is look forward to what we want in the future, and set the wheels in motion towards achieving these goals. Every day, ask yourself if what you’re doing is improving your life and keeping you on the path to where you want to be. If the answer is not YES, then eventually you will find yourself years from now in the same situation you are in right now; looking back with regrets, saying to yourself, “I wish I had have done this or that.” The problem is, eventually you will run out of opportunity to look forward to what you could do and all you have is the ability to look back. Make sure you have something worth looking back on, and make the most of the brief time you have here.
Original Post- July 2012 by Luke Mackay