“The good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished,
But the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.”
Ultimate Human Performance in a word is greatness.
Yet not the greatness of material or monetary gains. The true greatness of an individual, as well as a society as a whole, cannot be measured by GDP, economic prowess, or material gain.
True greatness can only be measured by the degree to which an individual and an environment is structured to facilitate growth, creative expression, and enjoyment of life.
Please read that again.
There is no true joy in life without action.
So if UHP is being fully inspired and completely enjoying life… is that outcome realistic and sustainable?
And this is not just my idea, there are mounds of psychological and scientific data to back this up.
The first thing we must recognize is that we’ve been condition to value a lie. Did that get your attention? We’ve been conditioned in the lie that leisure is the key to happiness.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Research regularly reports that the worst moods we experience are when there’s nothing of importance to be accomplished or done.
We need meaningful work with goals and stimulation to direct our attention and to keep it directed. That is if we choose to be happy and fulfilled in life.
One of the most common leisure escape mechanisms currently employed is television. According to Nielsen, the average American watches over five hours of television per day!
Because we believe that this diversion of attention “allows us to relax,” to “escape the worries and concerns of daily living,” but research proves that this belief is full of holes.
Worries about your love life, health, finances, family and job are always lurking in the shadows waiting until there’s nothing to divert your attention.
Even though television might provide a temporary distraction, television is far from being a positive experience. In fact, people generally report feeling passive, weak, somewhat irritable and sad while watching TV.
Please read that again and think about where and how you’re spending your time.
Guys in prison are notorious for spending 16 hours or more per day watching television. Need I say more?
So what exactly must we do to experience and sustain UHP?
The first step is what we discussed last week. We must adopt an autotelic personality. (reference UHP 4)
Easier said than done.
An autotelic personality has the ability to set its own goals and directions—regardless of what society values, the autotelic individual knows what he/she values! They’re driven by intrinsic results versus extrinsic rewards.
Simply put, they value feeling good inside themselves versus looking good in the eyes of others.
This quality is extremely rare.
A true autotelic personality is at the height of autonomy. The individual with an autotelic personality truly lives life on their own terms.
I recall sitting in a small cell and my cellmate asking me, “What do you think about all those people out there who believe you’re a total failure?”
I replied, “Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.” I feel successful right now.”
He looked at me like I was insane.
Maybe I was.
But I meant it.
You see, I was reading great books for 10-12 hours per day. I was journaling. I was contemplating my life, I was meditating daily, I was doing calisthenics, daily yoga postures, and I was making the absolute best of a very difficult situation.
When you can experience joy regardless of external circumstances
then joy is truly found.
The most powerful step to true enjoyment and fully living is an autotelic personality. Period.
This necessitates that you clearly know your own Innate Ability, your unique purpose, and your own personal values. Think about it, you can’t live your own life until you clearly define your life. While this seems somewhat elementary in theory, it’s a rarity in practice.
Secondly we must make a sharp distinction between pleasing activities and enjoyment.
Now this is a game changer! Stick with me.
There are basically two types of people: those who want pleasing activities and those committed to pleasing results
The fact is that an activity that may seem pleasing in the moment doesn’t always lend itself to pleasing results.
There’s a lot of talk in traditional spiritual development regarding “being in the moment.” While there’s value in being present to our experience, any virtue taken to an extreme is a vice.
Those that experience being in the moment to extremes are what psychologist Philip Zimbardo, past president of the American Psychological Association, calls “present hedonists.”
Present hedonists are the individuals that create teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, alcoholism, obesity, and a whole host of other maladies.
Pleasing activities of the moment don’t always lead to pleasing results.
On a much lesser scale, going back to the present hedonistic practice of television, while it takes a huge expenditure of time, this habit leaves you little to nothing to show for that time.
There are numerous other examples but I’m sure you get the point.
The polar opposite of the present hedonist according to Zimbardo are the future oriented. Futures are focused on pleasing results.
In dozens and dozens of studies, Futures outperform Presents in nearly every single category. They get better grades, are healthier and more optimistic, they make more money, and can make the best of “failure.”
According to Zimbardo they are “the movers and shakers in the world.”
Once again, any virtue taken to an extreme is a vice. Being a Future to the extreme sets us up to be so goal driven that we never pause to appreciate the beauty that currently exists.
Always focusing on someday never allows us to live today.
The solution resides in the harmony and integration of both; and masterfully implemented it sets you on the path of UHP.
We must pre-live the future, learn from not live in the past,
and savor the moment.
Finally, for UHP you must be in motion. You must take action. Big, bold, immediate and certain.
To live in the state of UHP and Focused Flow you must be going after your next Kilimanjaro. And once again the research bears this out.
You see, the much talked about and documented Flow State of UHP is very similar to the Satori or Samadhi of the Eastern mystic. The big difference is that in the East they sit—there’s no need to do anything with this optimal state of experience.
Without getting too complicated or off topic, a “non-dual experience” is beyond body, personality, and individual mind. Non-dual unity is so extremely connected to the Universe and all that is that you no longer exist. If you don’t exist there is nothing for you to experience or do. Are you with me?
A non-dual state experience, taken to the extreme, can become the ultimate in addiction and escapism. Something to ponder.
This in my opinion is why Eastern mysticism, while popular to some, will never play fully in the West.
In the West we’re meant to harmonize and work with the material plane. Nature mysticism (versus non-dual mysticism) is Flow; and while not entirely the topic of this series, Flow is definitely a distinct quality of UHP. (reference Mastery, Genius and Greatness series). So get busy, get active, put your genius to work and bring your greatness to the world.
Your work should be your love made manifest.
Bottom line, Ultimate Human Performance is a complex psychological strategy that is totally and completely committed to long-term mastery across all levels of life… versus short term success.
UHP is a life that revels in increasing complexity and delayed gratification. More on all these topics upcoming.
And the journey continues…
Stay Awake, Love Life, and Be Epic!