Bruce Lee was careful to maintain balance in his life—from the physical to the spiritual. No matter our external circumstances, we can all strive to apply Bruce’s advice for complete health to our own lives. Keep reading to learn about the Dragon’s guide to total wellness. You can find more insight like this in The Official Bruce Lee Collector’s Edition, Volume 5.
Bruce Lee was obviously someone who took great care in his physical fitness. He took hours out of every day to get an amount of cardiovascular and resistance training that allowed him to perform martial arts at the most elite level. He didn’t, however, confuse physical fitness with complete health, as too many of us do. In Episode 135 of The Bruce Lee Podcast, Shannon Lee discusses her father’s attitude toward wellness—including making the right choices as far as exercise—but also focusing on the harder-to-pin-down mental and spiritual aspects of the wellness questions. As Bruce himself said: “Remember, my friend, it is not what happens that counts; it is how you react…. Your mental attitude determines what you make of [unpleasantness], either a stepping stone or a stumbling block.” Achieving wellness the Bruce Lee way is all about focusing objective attention on the unhealthy parts of our body, mind and spirit, using what we learn from this observation, unpleasant though the process might be. These four Bruce Lee quotes can help you approach his way to wellness successfully.
"Happiness is the synonym of well-being."
Let’s start out with something easy: how to tell when you’re doing things right. Bruce wrote the above sentence knowing that happiness is, for many, the goal of any lifestyle change. He understood that happiness, to someone who is truly healthy, isn’t a goal or an end in itself, it is one of many symptoms contributing to their self-actualization. In other words, we enjoy the results of our evolution, but that enjoyment doesn’t define our evolved selves.
"Never waste energy on worries and negative thoughts."
“Part of the maintenance of our health and well-being is to understand our fear, to examine it so that we can release it,” Shannon says on The Bruce Lee Podcast. Though on its face her quote might seem to contradict her father’s, it’s necessary to remember Bruce would never have considered recognizing our fears and weaknesses as a waste. He understood self-criticism—within reason—is an essential part of self-actualization. Like he says, we can make these things stepping stones or stumbling blocks: Should we dwell unnecessarily on our fears and faults, they are stumbling blocks. When we recognize them and use our mental and physical faculties to overcome them, they are stepping stones.
"No one can eat and digest your food for you."
Even Bruce Lee had great teachers that he could thank for his incredible prowess at performing, martial arts, bodybuilding and more. He learned both from in-person teachers like Yip Man and through rigorous study, but he knew ultimately it would be his own hard work that determined his success, not the tools he was given by teachers. The same is true of trying to live a healthier life: Sources like trainers, books, doctors and nutritionists can give you the right information to act on, but it’s on you to put in the effort. Once you do, you’ll start reaping rewards.
"Anxiety is the gap between now and then."
One of the most difficult wellness techniques Bruce practiced was to constantly be immersed in the present, unburdened with the mistakes, failures and other shames of the past. “If you are in the now, you can’t be anxious because your excitement flows immediately into ongoing activity,” he said. It’s definitely easier said than done, but being able to block out all memory/emotion-based stimuli in favor of simple action in the moment leaves no room for fear or anxiety.