Harry Potter is the man.
Today, this young wizard is going to teach you how to live a better life. Now, if you’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the Harry Potter movies, you’re probably wondering “what the hell is this 26-year old dude doing writing about a bunch of kids’ books?”
First of all, shame on you.
The Harry Potter novels are absolutely amazing; I held out on reading them for years specifically to spite all of the people who wouldn’t shut up about how good they were. However, after reading through all of them in a matter of days I realized that hey’re definitely the real deal. Now, the movies aren’t as good as the books (what movies are though?), but they do a great job of bringing Harry’s story and universe to life and have gotten better with each passing film. By the time you read this, I’ll actually be at the theater with my sister watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Alright that’s enough background. Let’s dig into who Harry Potter is, and how he can help you turn your life around. Don’t worry, non-Harry Potter fans will still get something out of this too…but you really need to go read those books. Now.
Become the Chosen One
Throughout all seven novels, a big topic of discussion is Harry’s destiny as “the Chosen One.” He’s the only person in history to be attacked by Lord Voldemort (the head bad guy) and survive, so Harry is famous pretty much from day one. By the end of the last book, Harry is acutely aware of his destiny as the Chosen One, recognizing that it he is the one who has to fight Voldemort. After all, it was prophesied, he is the chosen one, and somebody has to stand up to the evil wizard. Might as well be him, right?
Why not turn yourself into “the Chosen One?” I talked about this in my Epic Destiny post: sure we don’t live in a world of witches and wizards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a cool backstory for yourself and decide it’s your destiny to live better and inspire others. Here’s my “chosen one” story:
“A humble boy from a sleepy fishing village will alter the course of history.”
Ridiculous? Maybe. Possible? Why not! After hiking Machu Picchu two weeks back, I’m fairly confident that anything is possible for me.
Maybe you’re 400 pounds and you want to inspire others to lose weight. Or maybe you want to run a marathon on every continent. Maybe you just want to live long enough to watch your grandkids graduate college. Whatever it is, aim big and start thinking of a great future for yourself that’s destined to happen.
Of course, after you’ve created your destiny, you need to live it.
Live a little
Harry Potter is known as “the boy who lived.” In every story, he’s confronted with situations that give him a choice – play it safe, or go for it. Whether it’s sneaking through Hogwarts (Harry’s school) to retrieve the fabled Sorcerer’s Stone, flying his broom against dragons, taking Buckbeak (a hippogriff) out for a late night joy ride, Harry was always doing something interesting (and generally frowned upon by authority figures). If he always played it safe, these books would be boring as hell.
Who wants to read about a kid that does his homework, goes to bed on time, and never gets into trouble?
Now, I’m not telling you to start breaking the law or anything like that. Instead, I’m telling you to freakin’ live a little! When I was in Peru, my friend Cash and I signed up for a day of mountain biking through the Sacred Valley. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was ten, so the concept of riding one down into a canyon scared the crap out of me. Sure, I could have said no and taken a taxi to Ollantaytambo. Instead, I asked myself “when am I EVER going to get another opportunity to do something like this?”, signed up, rode all the way down the canyon, and lived to tell the tale.
Moving forward, whenever given a chance to either play it safe or do something that will give me a hell of a memory/story, I’m going with the good story. I encourage you to do the same.
Do you want to be the boy or girl who blah’d? Hell no. You want to be the boy or girl who lived! Stop hiding behind that desk – it’s boring. Sign up for a karate class, rent bikes this weekend with your wife/boyfriend/friend, start planning your own Epic Quest. Do something that gets your heart racing, takes you out of your comfort zone, and reminds you how great it is to be alive.
As I’ve been recently reminded by my late grandfather, you need to live a life worth living.
Lean on your friends
Sure Harry is the Chosen One, the boy who lived, Mr. Destiny, etc. However, there is NO way Harry would have succeeded in any of his harrowing adventures without his two best friends, Ron and Hermoine. They help keep him grounded when his ego gets a little too big, pick him up when he’s down, bail him out when he’s in trouble, perform magic spells on his enemies when he’s unable to, help him fight off spiders the size of cars, and so on.
Do you have somebody to lean on?
My friend Joe is my workout buddy – whenever either of us doesn’t want to exercise, the other usually does and will make sure we end going. The members of the Nerd Fitness message boards, all 478+ of them, are my friends as well. I work out because they inspire me and I want to inspire them.
You don’t have to go it alone, you don’t have to fight this battle by yourself. Hop on the message boards, shoot me an email (I’m backed up but I’ll respond as soon as possible), and/or convince one of your friends to exercising with you. A support group will make your battle much easier.
To be a kick-ass wizard or witch, you can’t just be good at waving a wand. You also need to know how to make potions, disapparate (disappear and reappear someplace else), fly well on a broom, be well versed in legilimency (mind reading) and occlumency (mind-blocking), and more. If Harry was only good at one of these things, there’s no way he could have ever won the Triwizard Cup, survived the Chamber of Secrets, or rescued Sirius Black. Sure, he’s better at some things than others, but it’s his ability to adapt to any situation that gives him the best chance of success (and survival).
You need to mix it up too.
Don’t just be good at running, the rest of your body will be weak and lack definition. Don’t just be good at lifting weights, you’ll have zero endurance. Instead, focus on being pretty good at a few things. If you can run a 5k, do 20 pull ups, 50 push ups, and deadlift twice your bodyweight there will be very few physical obstacles that you won’t be able to conquer.
Have something worth fighting for
Harry fights death eaters, robs banks, consorts with known criminals, duels Voldemort, and often wanders into situations where he knows he could very easily die. You might think this kid has a death wish, but it’s really the opposite: Harry does all of these things because he has something worth living for and fighting for. Harry fights to defend his school, his family, his friends, and his way of life.
When faced with a difficult decision, all it takes is one thought back to his parents (who were killed by Voldemort) or a thought about his friends and classmates to know what the decision must be – his love for these people makes it an easy call.
What are you fighting for? Every day is a battle – we’re at war with obesity, heart disease, bigger waistlines, and shorter lifespans. Sure it’s easy to eat donuts, order pizza, drive through Burger King, and then come home and play videogames til you pass out (which would probably be a pretty fun day), so why bother exercising and trying to eat right? It takes a dedicated effort to say no to certain things, to drag your butt out of bed on a cold morning for a run, to lift weights after a long day of work. Why take the hard road when the easy road is so much easier and more fun?
Because you have a reason to take the hard road.
Maybe you’re doing it for your wife or husband. Maybe you just had a kid and the thought of them growing up without a parent has inspired you to make a lifestyle change. Maybe you’re getting older and don’t want to die of a heart attack at 55 like your dad did.
Whatever it is, pick a reason that allows you to keep fighting, and never forget it. I exercise and choose to eat right because I truly love life (I’m sticking around til I’m 127) and I love this community (I want to set a great example). I exercise and choose to eat right because I want to watch my great grandkids grow up. I do these things because I have a lot to live for.
You’ve now officially graduated from the Hogwarts School of Ass-Kicking. Stop playing it safe, stop fighting your battle alone, and go live a life worth living. You can be the boy or girl who lived. You can be the chosen one. You can live a life that will inspire others.
Now go do it.
Hopefully I’m not the only Potter fan around here…Any analogies I should have picked up on?
Let’s hear it, muggle!