We let too many powerful, life-changing quotes and sayings pass through our ears without taking any action on them. It’s time to take pause, listen and then actually change our lives because of them.
Let’s take this one.
“The only easy day was yesterday”
This famous saying is etched above the grinder in the BUD/S compound. Every bleeding back, bruised knuckle and searing muscle produced during SEAL physical training is underneath this sign. But what does it really mean?
For me, there are two powerful and opposing meanings to this statement. One meaning has provided me a refuge, a destination if you will. The other reminds me that this shit never ends, so get used to it.
A Paradise from the Pain
Have you ever done anything extremely dangerous, tough, demanding or painful? Do you notice how good it feels when you’re done? That’s the “paradise from the pain” that this saying represents for me.
People take action for one of two reasons:
1.) Avoid pain
2) Gain pleasure
The avoidance of pain can produce quick results; however, it’s a weak catalyst for action. The acquisition of pleasure, on the other hand, can drive a man or a woman to do some amazing things.
In the early stages of SEAL training, they put you through what’s called “Hell Week.” You’re basically awake for five days and in constant wet, painful and very cold motion. The entire time I was going through this ordeal, all I would think about was how great it would feel on Friday when they “secured” us from Hell Week. All that was on my mind was the pleasure of going to Bullshirt to buy the coveted “The only easy day was yesterday” t-shirt that one only “rated” after the completion of Hell Week.
This motivation to gain something good was my “paradise from the pain” because no matter what was happening, no matter how bad it was, my heart and mind was sitting on this island of accomplishment thinking about how “easy” it will all be once Hell Week became yesterday.
This Shit Never Ends — Settle In
I was training a young man the other day who wants to become a SEAL. We were running on the beach talking about the “mental management” of SEAL training. It was our third evolution of the day, and I was explaining to him that BUD/S is much like this — endless demanding physical or mental evolutions that would go on for more than six months. And once BUD/S was over, it didn’t stop — training for deployment was also demanding. Never-ending. The only easy day would always and only be yesterday because today you have to prove yourself again.
I explained to him that BUD/S could have lasted forever and I would have been fine. I had “settled in” and accepted that every day I would start over and prove myself again.
Putting It All Together
Though these two things seem to be opposite in nature, I find them to be two halves to the equation of life.
On the front end, the saying promises me “pleasure” once the tough stuff is behind me. The reward that has me kick ass every day with a smile on my face.
On the back end is the idea that there will always be a challenge, so there’s no reason to resist it anymore. Just put your head down, keep spitting the blood and don’t stop. I know this sounds a bit “aggro,” but think about it. If you are to live a life of purpose, will you not always have something difficult to accomplish? I mean if you have everything handled financially, physically, mentally and spiritually for yourself and your loved ones, wouldn’t it then be time to hit the road and start helping others who are suffering and dying every day? I think so.
This Shit Isn’t Meant To Be Entertaining
Stop nodding your head like you get it — now what are you going to do? Here are three questions to ask yourself to inspire action:
1.) What are you now going to quit doing in your life?
2.) What are you now going to start doing in your life?
3.) What are you already doing that you’re now going to modify?
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.
What does it mean to you?
Eric Davis served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL and decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror. Eric has been recognized as one of the premier sniper instructors in the U.S. military and has served as a Master Training Specialist at the SEAL sniper school.
About the author
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