The Japanese Samurai have been respected for ages, but what makes them so special? It’s not just their ability to fight, or that they have managed to learn Japanese (which is quite difficult).
It’s their mindset that makes them such extraordinary people.
The loyalty they have for one another, the emphasis they place on holding one's honor, and the warrior spirit that they have are truly inspiring.
This spirit that they live by, called ‘bushido’, is perhaps made for the samurai, but after reading the book Hagakure I noticed that there are a lot of lessons you and I can learn from this Samurai warrior mindset.
There are certain principles that the samurai live by that are important for you too if you want to live a great life. Things like honor, responsibility, working hard, respecting your elders, and always improving yourself are central to bushido.
There is a lot to learn from bushido, so today I’m going to talk about the most crucial aspects of it, how they relate to your day-to-day life, and what we can learn from them.
How to respond to adversity
2-42 "The more water there is, the higher the boat rises."
They have a beautiful saying in Japan:
“The more water there is the higher the boat rises.”
It’s a metaphor for the positive effects adversity can have on you and why you need it to become the best version of yourself. What this metaphor is actually saying is that the more adversity you experience (the more water), the better the person you become and the more you will achieve (the higher the boat will rise).
This is completely true, you can’t achieve anything without at least some type of resistance, and the bigger the things you want to achieve the bigger the resistance you’re going to face. This is why more adversity is necessary for achieving the higher things.
For example: Batman became Batman through enormous adversity, if he didn’t go through so much painful stuff he wouldn’t be Batman, would he?
His parents were shot right in front of him when he was a kid, he let dozens of people die because he let the Joker run loose, and he was thrown in a pit in the desert with a broken back after failing to save his city.
But Batman needs these experiences to become a true hero, and to earn the respect of other people. You respect people more when they went through hard things and came out on top of them. You wouldn't respect Batman if he was just privileged and everything simply went well all the time.
You need hardship to become a hero, so be more like Batman, go through painful things, go through adversity, and come out on the other side a better man, a hero.
1-174 "Those who revel when times are good will wither in adversity."
If you haven’t experienced adversity before, you will not be able to handle the hard times, which are going to come your way whether you like it or not.
Adversity will strike, and the more you’ve experienced it beforehand, the more shit you went through, the more you’ll be used to it and the better you’ll be able to handle it.
People who have never experienced adversity in their lives will not be able to handle the bad times when they arrive. So expose yourself to adversity while times are still easy, you may need this experience for when shit really hits the fan.
Challenge yourself and stop being a coward, start doing difficult things, and don’t go easy on yourself, because your enemies will surely not go easy on you.
Be the hardest worker in the room
1-188 "A samurai should be excessively obstinate. Anything done in moderation will fall short of your goals. If you feel that you are doing more than is needed, it will be just right."
Dwayne Johnson has a saying: always be the hardest worker in the room.
This is a mantra that you should live by. You should always feel like you are the hardest worker in the room. This makes you feel superior in a way to other people which makes you feel good, but it also gives you a reason to work hard, because if you say you are the hardest worker in the room, and you’re actually not working that hard, then you’re a liar.
(More on being a man of your word later.)
2-62 "A samurai with spare time on his hands is obviously not working hard enough."
This is the attitude you should have towards work. Work as hard as you possibly can, use your time as best as possible, and never waste a second.
Time is the most precious thing you have on this earth, the time you spend now you will never get back. So use this time wisely and spend it on doing things that will propel you forward and make your life better.
Our time on this earth is limited, so be sure to use it well.
2-34 "Serving when out of sight of others should be done with the same prudence as when in the public eye"
The work that matters most is often the work that nobody sees, the work you do by yourself when nobody is watching.
This could be the introspective work, the physical training, or the tedious boring work you need to do alone. This work is the foundation for success, and to be as successful as possible, you need to work as hard as possible even when nobody is watching. Make sure you give everything every time, no matter if thousands of people are watching you or no one, and perform exceptionally anyway.
Lazy people are never respected. Everybody respects someone that works his ass off.
Do you want to be respected?
Good, get to work.
Always do the brave thing
1-161 "In matters of military prowess, train with all of your might to never be surpassed by others, and think to yourself: “My valor is beyond compare.”"
Courage was also an important aspect of being a samurai, and you especially needed to be brave enough to go into battle and be prepared to die.
Bravery is something most men lack nowadays, perhaps because of the feminization of society, or because of what they put in the water, but either way, true bravery is dying.
The basis of every warrior, even just every respectable man, is bravery.
You have to be willing to take risks, protect the ones you love when they are in danger, and do the right thing when no one else has the guts to do it.
If you want to learn more about how you can cultivate true bravery, then you're lucky because I've already made a blog telling you exactly how to do it.
You get to find out what fear actually is, why you fear things, and I tell you 3 ways to overcome fear and become braver. Enjoy.
2-118 "Valorous exploits can only be achieved by becoming a madman."
Your attitude shapes your reality
1-79 "There is a lesson to be learned from a downpour of rain. If you get caught in a sudden cloudburst, you will get a drenching even though you try to keep dry by hurrying along and taking cover under the overhangs on roofs. If you are prepared to get wet from the start, the result is still the same but it is no hardship. This attitude can be applied to all things."
Your attitude shapes your reality. The way you think and the way you perceive something determines your reaction to your situation.
What the Samurai are saying with this little story, is that your attitude towards something can change the way the experience impacts you. When you go into the rain thinking shit, it’s raining I wish it were sunny, I wouldn’t like to get wet. Then going out in the rain will be a very negative experience and will evoke negative emotions.
But if you go into the rain thinking, well nothing I can do about it, it’s just some rain drops and I’m going to get wet, and you view it from a very logical and neutral perspective, two things happen:
Firstly the rain doesn’t bother you and doesn’t bring up any negative emotion and if you become good at this attitude game, you even get excited when it starts raining and things are uncomfortable. But it's important that you don't evoke any negative emotions because of your circumstances and that you see events very objectively and logically.
Secondly, you won't experience any hardship when you are already prepared to get wet. This means that no matter what happens, no matter what the circumstances are.
If you’re prepared for the worst, if you're prepared for the rain, and you’re not afraid to get wet, you won’t find any pain or discomfort in getting wet.
There’s also a significant distinction between discomfort and suffering that has to do with your attitude which is extremely important to pay attention to.
Suffering is enduring pain without growth. It is going through hardship, putting yourself in painful situations, and not gaining anything as a result, with no internal growth, nor any external reward.
Now discomfort is something entirely different. It is enduring pain with growth at the end. If you know that what you’ll receive after the pain is gone was entirely worth it, then the experience right now can be felt as just some discomfort that you need to go through to get to the next level.
This attitude can also be applied to all things in life.
How you view the pain that you go through will determine whether you perceive it to be discomfort or suffering.
It's all about perspective, if you believe there is growth when going through pain, you are simply in a state of discomfort, and that is much more tolerable than suffering.
So shift the way you view your circumstances, see the uncomfortable things you are going through right now as opportunities for growth, and the suffering will turn into discomfort in the blink of an eye.
Learn to sing in the rain as they say, enjoy the pain, and experience the growth.
Be a man of your word
1-98 "A samurai’s word is harder than metal. once I have decided something, not even the gods can change it."
As a man, your word is everything you have. Men don’t respect men who can not keep their word, this is one of the most heinous things you could do: saying you’re going to do something, and not doing it.
This is because it impedes your ability to trust someone. If you don't do what you say, even if it was just one time, how can I trust you to do what you say the next time, why would I trust you to do what you say you’re going to do when you have a track record of not doing what you say.
This means you cannot be fully trusted to do something when saying it, which means other people can't be sure you’re going to do it, which means they probably won’t ask you to do anything. Which in turn will mean that you’ll receive nothing, no friendship, no reciprocation.
Because you give and you take, people are reciprocal to people who do something for them.
If nobody wants you to do anything for them, how would you receive anything from them?
If you say you’re going to do something, actually do it. You cannot afford to slip up with this principle, your reputation of being a man of your word matters.
1-178 "A compassionate mind will help others in a way that is righteous and knows no bounds."
Remember the scene from the first Batman movie where he is supposed to behead a criminal to prove his loyalty to the League of Shadows, but Bruce Wayne refuses out of compassion?
What is important is what he says about compassion: “It separates us from them”. Compassion separates you from the bad, the evil, and the corrupt. They lack compassion for their victims, and they do not care who you are and where you’re from, to them you’re just a number.
You should be different, you should show compassion, to the people you’re trying to help obviously, and sometimes even to your enemy or the person on the other side.
Just like Ukrainians should show compassion to Russians and the other way around. These people are just taking orders and fighting a war they don't even understand, they are not evil, they are not really your enemy, so you should show compassion to them and for the situation that they’re in.
You will also avoid conflict a lot, if not all the time by being compassionate. If someone says something to you that you don’t like and you just react emotionally and insult that person back, maybe you could see this as a fair exchange, he insulted you so you insult him back, right?
But does this help? Do you really want conflict, or would you rather avoid it entirely?
Of course, you’d want to avoid it, so how could we avoid conflict altogether?
By using compassion...
2-109 "Conflict won't rear its ugly head when everything is enveloped in compassion."
All conflict can be avoided by compassion, let me explain how.
You can easily show compassion to every person, even the ones that are insulting you or doing you wrong in any way.
You just need to be able to see things from their perspective.
Think to yourself, if I was in their position, with their genetics and their life experience, I would probably react the exact same way they do in this situation.
So that's the first thing, know that if you were in their shoes, you would do the same thing.
Furthermore, the reason why they react the way they do is probably because of some of those experiences. You can’t look inside their life and see what they did and did not experience and how they perceived those experiences.
So when you have no idea why they react the way they do, plus with the knowledge that their reaction is almost never actually personal, but just a result of experiences they had combined with the perception they have of those experiences, it is impossible to get angry at them.
Always show compassion to someone when you can, no matter how they may act to you, you never know what they're going through.