Those who follow this blog or know me personally know that I’m a big fan of the idea that there is no such thing as “too strong”. And while this blog often focuses near-exclusively on the physical elements of strength and conditioning, I’m a firm believer that strength and health are holistic elements. In other words, being strong in one facet of life and weak in another means you are broken. Who cares if you can lift 1000 pounds if you get out of breath tying your shoes?
But I’d like to take that one step further. What good is being in peak physical shape if you are ethically and mentally weak? I don’t care if you are the greatest athlete on earth – if you are a shitty person with poor ethical values, you are weak and broken.
I was flipping through a book I read when I was in college by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman called On Combat. To this day one of the best books I’ve ever read, it examines the “psychology and physiology of deadly conflict in war and in peace”. In the back, as an appendix, there was listed Erasmus’ Twenty-two Principles on How to Be Strong While Remaining Virtuous in a Dangerous World. It’s a great list and I wanted to share it with all of my readers. Read them, look to yourself and ask: Are you really that strong?
INCREASE YOUR FAITH
Even if the entire world appears mad.
ACT UPON YOUR FAITH
Even if you must undergo the loss of everything.
ANALYZE YOUR FEARS
You will find that things are not as bad as they appear.
MAKE VIRTUE THE ONLY GOAL OF YOUR LIFE
Dedicate all of your enthusiasm, all your effort, your leisure as well as your business.
TURN AWAY FROM MATERIAL THINGS
If you are greatly concerned with money you will be weak of spirit.
TRAIN YOUR MIND TO DISTINGUISH GOOD FROM EVIL
Let your rule of government be determined by the common good.
NEVER LET ANY SETBACK STOP YOU IN YOUR QUEST
We are not perfect – this only means we should try harder.
IF YOU HAVE FREQUENT TEMPTATIONS, DO NOT WORRY
Begin to worry when you do not have temptation, because that is a sure sign that you cannot distinguish good from evil.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR AN ATTACK
Careful generals set guards even at times of peace.
SPIT, AS IT WERE, IN THE FACE OF DANGER
Keep a stirring quotation with your for encouragement.
THERE ARE TWO DANGERS: ONE IS GIVING UP, THE OTHER IS PRIDE
After you have performed some worthy task, give all the credit to someone else.
TURN YOUR WEAKNESS INTO VIRTUE
If you are inclined to be selfish, make a deliberate effort to be giving.
TREAT EACH BATTLE AS THOUGH IT WERE YOUR LAST
And you will finish, in the end, victorious!
DON’T ASSUME THAT DOING GOOD ALLOWS YOU TO KEEP A FEW VICES
The enemy you ignore the most is the one who conquers you.
WEIGH YOUR ALTERNATIVES CAREFULLY
The wrong way will often seem easier than the right way.
NEVER ADMIT DEFEAT EVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN WOUNDED
The good soldier’s painful wounds spur him to gather his strength.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION
So when the time comes for battle, you will know what to do.
CALM YOUR PASSIONS BY SEEING HOW LITTLE THERE IS TO GAIN
We often worry and scheme about trifling matters of no real importance.
SPEAK WITH YOURSELF THIS WAY:
If I do what I am considering, would I want my family to know about it?
VIRTUE HAS ITS OWN REWARD
Once a person has it, they would not exchange it for anything.
LIFE CAN BE SAD, DIFFICULT AND QUICK: MAKE IT COUNT FOR SOMETHING!
Since we do not know when death will come, act honorably everyday.
REPENT YOUR WRONGS
Those who do not admit their faults have the most to fear.
Grossman, D., & Christensen, L. W. (2004). On combat, the psychology and physiology of deadly conflict in war and in peace. Millstadt, IL: Warrior Science Group Inc.