Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.
Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.
Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.
In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.
When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.
[Today’s podcast episode is about how to create a positive future. You can check it out here.]
Today’s post is inspired by a wonderful soul named Drew.
My car battery died today, and I lost my wallet a few days ago. There was no way to call roadside assistance, nor pay for a new battery. In addition, most of my friends and family were busy (since it was a weekday), and to top it off, I didn’t have any jumper cables. As you can imagine, this could’ve been a very negative day.
However, I’m a student of self-awareness; self-awareness is the only aspect of our lives that we have 100% control over. I started to break my old thought patterns, and focused on the positive. My car broke down, but at home. I don’t have a wallet, but I have checks. And who knows, maybe I’ll meet a person who will inspire, and be inspired.
And sure enough, that’s EXACTLY what happened.
Now, you probably want to know what happened, but it’d be very difficult for me to explain the series of events in the following hour; mostly because I really don’t have a logical explanation. The universe was just moving.
But what I can do is something that is probably more important: to take some energy from that moment, and share it with you my friend. This energy includes hope, gratitude and positivity; that no matter what you’re enduring in life now, if you choose to keep believing in yourself and keep working, the future is bright my friend. Your victories are for you, and you alone. Bring the sunglasses, and let today be a snapshot to remember when you look back tomorrow.
Here’s something interesting that I’ve learned today: we are all trying to survive.
This statement is not new to very many of us, but if we look closer at the deeper meaning, perhaps we can better understand our own patterns.
Consider the reptilian brain – the part in our brain responsible for “fight or flight” response. This area of the brain identifies patterns, and is the most evolutionary mature part of our brain (compared to the cerebellum and neo cortex). It likes habits and despises change, because it was how our ancestors survived; by eating the familiar berries, walking the familiar path home and not getting eaten by sabretooth tigers. Pretty important for back then, not so much for society today.
So next time you try something new, and you doubt yourself, induce anxiety or irrational fear, just remind yourself that it’s just your reptilian brain trying to prevent getting eaten by sabretooth tiger many years ago. It served its purpose then, but is holding you back now. Acknowledge it and continue on with your goals.
The first stand-up special I ever saw was a day I came home early from school. It was also the beginning of my school suspension from the Assistant Principal for retaliating against a bully. I felt so much anger, resentment and unfairness that day, especially because the person who caused me so much hurt for making racist comments went undisciplined. I flopped onto the couch, flipped on the TV, and started watching a guy on stage with multiple water bottles behind him, sweating like a maniac, making an entire theater roar with laughter. The more I watched, the more I laughed and the less I felt anger and rage. “This is fucking crazy!” I thought. How is a person able to give laughter and kindness to millions of people he didn’t even know, in that theater and on TV combined? There is something magical and powerful about that.
Robin Williams is one of my life’s greatest inspirations and reasons why I enjoy doing comedy so much. He is one of the few people who inspired me to believe in myself and be courageous. Thank you for giving me the courage to pursue my dream, my friend.
I am very grateful to have met the super-talented Anjelah Johnson recently at a church here in Southern California! She is a super sweet and kind individual who shared her story about success and how spirituality played an important part in her life! It definitely gave me a lot of inspiration and fuel to finish up my college degree and pursue this path of stand-up comedy and bringing positivity and happiness to others!