This episode we had a great time talking with Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge winner Michael R. about his experience with the challenge and how practicing Bruce Lee’s philosophy for two weeks changed his life.
Michael first discovered Bruce Lee when he was 12 and first started studying martial arts at a martial arts school. An older student recommended The Art of Expressing the Human Body and Michael purchased it that night. After that, Michael was hooked on Bruce Lee. He had always been interested in studying the human body and fitness, so this book by Bruce Lee resonated with him. He started reading and studying anything related to Bruce and experimented with fitness like Bruce did. He would pick out the parts of Bruce’s fitness programs that worked for him and would weight lift in his aunt’s garage.
After reading “The Art of Expressing the Human Body,” Michael sought out any information he could find on Bruce Lee. When the Bruce Lee Family Company started, Michael was excited to get some true Bruce Lee content. He discovered the Bruce Lee Podcast when he was looking for podcasts to listen to as he was remodeling his family’s apartment. Michael had always felt a deep, resonating kinship with Bruce Lee the more he learned about him, and had read every book about him, and learned from everything Bruce had written. Now, Michael won’t leave his house in the morning until the episode has downloaded.
When the Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge was announced, Michael was in a dark place. He had just recently moved with his family to a small town in Utah planning on commuting to his well paying job. However, shortly after moving his job was downsized at work and the paycheck no longer justified the long 2-hr commute. Michael ended up quitting his job for a new opportunity, which did not pan out so he wound up in an in-between work stage. Finally finding work as a custom cabinetmaker helped, but with a long commute his family was feeling the emotional strain.
Michael was struggling with depression at this time. He had a history of depression, which he believes his father also struggled with but had never discussed with him. He knew he wanted to make a change in his life, but felt trapped. Michael was stuck in a lease in this small town unable to find a job for something he was good at, and felt he needed to find a way to escape from this corner he was backed into. Then, the Podcast Challenge happened. One day when he was driving to work listening to the latest episode the Podcast Challenge was announced. Michael decided that this was an opportunity to reframe how he perceived his world and that would give him a way out.
Michael picked seven places in his life he wanted to work on and made seven affirmations. He shared with us a few of his affirmations:
Positivity Affirmation: Recognizing that emotions are both positive and negative and that I can select how I act with their influence, I will dedicate my reasoning to draw out and accentuate the positive emotions and transfigure the negative into useful activity.
For this positivity affirmation, Michael actually paraphrased one of Bruce’s affirmations. Michael shared that he thinks the tricky part of depression is that even though you might recognize that you have this power, you feel trapped in a box that keeps you inert preventing you from using all that energy and power. Depression starts to make you believe that the box is where you are meant to stay and that there’s no way out because there was never meant to be a way out.
At first reading these affirmations aloud was awkward for Michael, and this has been the case for Shannon and Sharon, and every challenge participant we have talked to so far. Michael found he had to read this affirmation several times a day to get it to stick. Then, as he read his positivity affirmation more often, he realized that if he can control how he feels about something he also doesn’t have to react. Michael realized that he has a moment of awareness where he can make a choice on how he is going to proceed. He can take this process of decision-making and streamline it so that it becomes automatic. In this way, Michael can train himself to be positive in bad situations, or train himself to be creative in situations that seem to have no solution. Michael didn’t expect this to happen, or for it to happen so quickly in just two weeks.
Reading these affirmations aloud everyday is like a fitness program for your mind.
Michael’s positivity and unconditional love affirmations totally changed his approach to how he parents his kids. Even though he always felt that he was a positive person inside, from the age of 13 to 27 he felt like he had this dark cloud that would move in randomly and cause him to react in ways that weren’t genuine to him. These two affirmations helped connect him to that person he always knew he was inside but had become disconnected from over the years.
Unconditional Love Affirmation: Accepting that all people are in the process of their own journey, as I am in the process of mine, and that each person retains the agency to choose their own actions, I remove my expectations of others and remove the desire to live up to their expectations. I welcome and encourage everyone I meet with love and appreciation of who they are and the beauty that they bring into my life.
Michael always wanted to make the most of everyday, but usually he would come home from work exhausted and burnt out. He noticed that during this challenge when he came home he had all this extra energy. This allowed him to come home with all this patience to enjoy his rowdy kids who were excited to have him home. They would tell him all about their days and then they would do an activity, such as the movement exercises he was doing as a part of the challenge. They renamed the days of the week for a different martial art that they would practice each day as a part of the challenge. Michael also noticed that the challenge brought back an open line of communication between him and his kids, they no longer hesitated to bring up things they wanted to do or talk about.
During the challenge, Michael saw dramatic improvements in all areas of his life:
“My relationships got better with my wife and kids especially, I lost weight, my blood pressure went down, my heart rate improved, I was less stressed, I was happier, I had more enjoyment of each moment, people started approaching me in public and interacting with me positively. But most importantly to me, my depression disappeared.”
Michael learned how much you get out of even a small amount of time when you are fully present in the moment. He didn’t realize until this challenge how truly not present he was before. Due to the positive changes from the podcast challenge, Michael has experienced a ripple effect out to other external aspects of his life with opportunities appearing and doors opening for him.
The second part of the challenge was completing the “I would feel better in my body if…” statement. Michael’s was: “I would feel better in my body if I spent 20 minutes in daily practice of movements, skills, and play. Honoring my body in its current state and yet purposefully driving myself toward the physical autonomy I desire to train my body and my mind in a continual moving mediation. I synthesize the mental and physical traits I have been given into the highest and most authentic expression of myself.”
Michael had a background in rigid fitness programs, and for the challenge decided to break out of that regimen and explore a more playful approach to fitness. He wanted to explore his range of motion more instead of just doing reps or having a structured work out. He approached his fitness with more flow and followed what was interesting or fun, and enjoyed experimenting. For example, he took his gymnastics rings to the park with his kids and they all just played with them, trying out new moves or hanging on them. Michael had a lot of fun experimenting with different fitness tools and movements, and following what his kids were doing and playing with them.
Part of why a lot of people don’t enjoy fitness is because it is regimented, not fun, and has too much structure. Michael’s approach is different from that and sounds like a lot more fun. He found that he was capable of a lot more physically than he previously thought and this helped him in other areas of his life as he discovered he was adaptable.
In the beginning, the Harmony action item of “Letting others be,” seemed like the easiest part of the challenge to Michael. However, he discovered when he started it that he interpreted “letting others be” as ignoring people versus actually just letting them be. After the first couple of days, he realized that was not working since he was still bothered by what others were doing. He found that there needed to be an interaction, recognize where the other person was coming from and then not make judgments and let it be. Michael referred to his Unconditional love affirmation, recognizing that others were in process of their own journey, that they’re going somewhere even if they do not know where right now, and that he should not be trying to make assessments.
It was on day 5 or 6 of the challenge that Michael started to notice something welling up inside of him. At first he didn’t recognize the feeling and then realized that it was an energy he had not felt since he was a kid. This is a connection to his true essence.
Even though the two-week challenge is over, Michael has continued these practices. Now that he’s been through this process and felt the effects, even if Michael drops some of the practices it will be easier for him to pick them back up since he know what works for him.
Michael, we’re so happy for your success with this challenge! This shift that you made and the actions that you took, has already made a huge difference in your life in such a short amount of time. Thank you for participating in and sharing your experience with the Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge!
For those of you inspired by Michael’s experience with the Bruce Lee Podcast Challenge, you can do it too! Just go to brucelee.com/podcastchallenge to find out more.
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
This week we have a nomination from podcast listener Jamie who nominated his friend Ed Kaihatsu.
Ed Kaihatsu is a long time fencer and is the US Veteran National Champion in men’s foil 7 times. Ed and Jamie have been teammates and opponents in fencing for 30 years. As of now Ed is the associate head coach of women’s fencing at Northwestern University. Ed’s wife and kids also fence. He’s now a teacher and has said that his whole purpose in teaching and being a fencing coach, is to make his students better in every way not just as fencers. Ed said that when you take fencing away, when fencing season is over and the kids go back out into the world, he wants to know that they are out there being good people and are at the top of their game as human beings. Thank you Jamie for writing us to tell us about Ed and we think you’re awesome, Ed Kaihatsu!
This week our #BruceLeeMoment comes from listener Ken M.:
“Hi my name is Ken Murphy from Orange Park Florida. Just wanted to share my Bruce Lee moment I had last week while riding my motorcycle. As I was riding along beautiful country roads beautiful scenery my mind was filled with things I needed to do after the ride. I suddenly realized I was not enjoying the ride that I needed to clear my mind and empty it. Then I thought of Bruce's pointing finger and then was able to enjoy the Beautiful scenery. At that moment I felt personal liberation from all the responsibilities I needed to do afterwards. I was living in the moment. Thank you Shannon and Sharon for sharing Bruce's philosophies and I'm enjoying your podcast very much.”