“The proper work of the mind is exercise of choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. What then can pollute and clog the minds proper functioning? Nothing but its own corrupt decisions.” – Epictetus
Quotes like this are great and all, but sometimes they can be a little difficult to understand and apply without any context to our lives. So, to properly understand these tasks, let’s break each one down to how it can be applied to the life of an athlete:
Choice—to do and think about what aligns with your goals and values
Refusal—of the temptation to take it easy or hold back when you’re tired
Yearning—to be better than your competition and yourself
Repulsion—of negative mindsets, of a bad environment, of the doubters
Preparation—for the opportunities to perform that may or may not happen
Purpose—the reason you get up in the morning despite your aching muscles
Assent—to clearly understand what you can control (yourself) and what you cannot (circumstances)
These are the decisions that every athlete will have to make. Not just today, but tomorrow, and the next day, and every day after that. As an athlete, your body is incredibly valuable, but ultimately, without a strong mind that makes good decisions, your body is just sack of meat. Your mind decides what your body will both refuse and desire.
Make the decision today to exercise your mind. To know what you want and how you are going to be as an athlete.