How One Bruce Lee Quote Changed My Life And Can Change Yours Too.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not and add what is specifically your own.”
This one quote changed everything for me. It was one of those moments where everything clicked. One simple phrase, which seems like common sense, put so many things into perspective. You see I had been struggling to put together what I stood for, my core belief system. I kept running into issues. My main hang ups came from the fact that no single belief system fit my unique mindset and values.
This quote gave me permission to be flexible. This permission to be flexible had always been there, but i didn’t realize that until I saw this. It gave me the freedom to create my own “operating system” as Tim Ferriss puts it.
I no longer had to be pigeon holed into acting or thinking a certain way because I liked a particular philosophy. It was now possible to piece together the greatest hits of thought into my own set of values. This has allowed me to think more about what I believe in and what I don’t.
Let’s break it down.
Absorb What Is Useful:
This one is easy. Every day you read or think about something that could add value to your everyday life. There are thousands of articles out there aiming to make your life easier or more productive. If you find something that resonates with you, add it to your mental toolbox.
This is something I particularly enjoy doing with personal development books. If you can get even one useful idea or actionable tip from a book then it has been a great book.
For example I loved the idea of writing down 10 ideas a day from one of James Altucher’s books. I started to put this in place during my daily life and found it useful. The rest of the content of the book didn’t resonate with me and I let it go. I’m sure you can think of similar examples.
Once again all you have to do is find ideas you like and put them into place.
Discard What Is Not (Useful):
This part is a bit tougher. It requires patience, practice, and introspection. There is a lot of fluff out there. It can be hard to discern a useful piece of information from a piece of clickbait, or useless platitude.
What I like to do is implement the ideas that strike a chord with me as soon as possible, and file away the other ideas for later. If an idea seems impractical then leave it behind. When I first read “The Four Hour Workweek” I enjoyed a lot of the content within. However, a lot of the information on outsourcing your life seemed excessive and impractical for my current situation. So I left it in the book. I didn’t have to put in place a new system that would not directly benefit my life. That’s the beauty of this quote and way of thinking. You can take the things you gravitate towards, and discard the rest.
This takes some practice to get right, and you will get better at it with time. As you get to know yourself, and what you value, you will only increase your perception of what will be useful. This in turn will allow you to audit the things you’ve previously found useful and decide whether to keep on moving forward with them.
Once you have this down it will become the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Being able to think critically about what ideas and concepts you are putting into place will give you a level of freedom you didn’t have before. This freedom to pick and choose the best items from a school of thought will improve your personal operating system.
Add What Is Specifically Your Own:
This is where everything comes together. At it’s simplest it is combining the “useful” things you’ve gathered and tried then combining them with your unique point of view on the world. As time goes on your personal philosophy will grow and evolve and your individual vision of the world will change with it.
You can put together your own playbook for dealing with life. Picking and choosing what applies to you and your situation, and rejecting the rest of the non essential ideas.
This quote from Bruce Lee changed my outlook on life and how I think about the ideas and content I consume. It gives you the freedom, the permission, to think outside the box and create your own personal philosophy.
If you read into the life of Bruce Lee you can see that he truly lived by this quote. He created a martial art that was an amalgamation of the best items from the martial arts schools he had studied at. He walked through life with a confidence in himself and his viewpoint, and thankfully he shared his ideas.
In my experience people are already doing this from time to time, without realizing that it should be a filter you are viewing the world through at all times. Have you done something similar? Comment below with the best items and ideas you’ve added to your mental toolbox.