Notes & Quotes: Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

The following are my favorite quotes from Rich Roll's Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself.
  1. I've been there. I too bought into the great lie. Blinded by its false promise, I spent years in pursuit of a life I didn't mindfully choose. But rather than do something about it, anything, I simply medicated myself to salve a pain I wasn't even consciously aware I harbored. Drugs, alcohol, fast food--you name it. It's a path that took me to some very dark places. And it's a life that left me profoundly desperate, accelerating me to the grave without any awareness that deep down, lying dormant, was a song. A song yet to be discovered. A song yearning to be sung.
  2. If my story stands for anything, it is that the human body, mind, and spirit are far more resilient than you can possibly imagine. My testimony is that each and every one of us is sitting atop vast reservoirs of untapped potential. We're all capable of feats beyond our limited imagination. And personal growth isn't just possible, it's our mandate.
  3. From my adventures in the subculture of addiction recovery, I'd learned that the trajectory of one's life often boils down to a few identifiable moments--decisions that change everything. I knew all too well that moments like these were not to be squandered. Rather, they were to be respected and seized at all costs, for they just didn't come around that often, if ever. Even if you experienced only one powerful moment like this one, you were lucky. Blink or look away for even an instant and the door didn't just close, it literally vanished.
  4. She [my wife] understood a crucial spiritual principle I'd yet to grasp. You can stand in the light. And you can set a positive example. But you simply cannot make someone change.
  5. The idea that hard work and discipline left me solely responsible for the result--win or lose--was a revelation.
  6. I quickly became aware that I lacked a certain level of God-given talent. If I wanted to catch up and make the leap to the national level, I couldn't rely on innate gifts. I was going to have to go the extra mile. I decided to focus almost entirely on the 200-yard butterfly; widely considered one of the most difficult and draining events, most people had no interest in swimming it. This gave me an immediate advantage. Less interest and fewer competitors meant better chances for success.
  7. To the casual observer, everything seemed fine. But I was in my own private hell. Man, did I want to drink that night. Just one strong drink to numb this misery. But I knew I could never have just one drink.
  8. Armed with Skip's hall pass, I walked outside to meet the bright sun wash and headed straight to the liquor store. I had one night of solitary drinking left, and I wasn't about to squander it. Because despite all the pain I had caused others, the bridges I had burned, and the misery I had brought upon myself, I still didn't want to let this life go. That, in a nutshell, is alcoholism.
  9. All my confusing feelings boiled down to one singular emotion. Fear. Fear of people. Fear of situations and institutions. Fear of economic insecurity, the unknown, and events that hadn't yet and possibly would never transpire. All told, fear of everything. And there's only one cure for fear. Faith.
  10. I have come to appreciate that great beauty lies in destruction. Looking back, it is undeniable that the wedding that nearly destroyed me was absolutely crucial in precipitating my ultimate salvation. And for this, I am--and will always be--eternally grateful.
  11. Getting overly caught up in such minute details leads to burnout. And burnout always leads back to old habits. The name of the game is sustainability. And simply put, if it's too complicated, it's not sustainable. And if it's not sustainable, what's the point?
  12. It was this new lifestyle--not race results, finishing times, or age-group rankings--that captivated me. I reveled in the simple purity of the outdoor experience that washed over me in the midst of a trail run, the feeling of calm that enveloped me while engaged in a hard swim, and the satisfying camaraderie I discovered while pedaling with gung-ho fellow bikers.
  13. Stress + Rest = Progress. The concept seems self-evident, and, in fact, it's the current operating system for most endurance, track, cycling, swimming, and triathletes today.
  14. They're called supplements for a reason--to be used sparingly, and never as a substitute for real food. My focus is always on meeting my protein needs through whole foods, and yours should be too. 
  15. On a weekday morning that normally would have been spent chained to a desk, I mounted my bike for the first time in months and began pedaling toward the Santa Monica Mountains. Soon I was ascending Topanga Canyon, and as the sun rose into the clear blue skies above the ridgeline, I spotted a hawk. In a perfect symbiosis of air and wing, the majestic bird sailed its perfect arc across the morning sky. And that's when I understood. If I could summon the courage to pursue my passion with purpose and without fear, I, too, could experience such synchronicity. Somehow, everything would work out.
  16. Safety isn't just an illusion, it's a cop out. I know it sounds trite, but there's simply nothing like a near-death experience to remind one of the impermanence of everything. And living imprisoned by fear only to die with regret over dreams postponed was a life neither of us was interested in. 
  17. I didn't get into ultra-endurance sports to win races, beat others, or stand atop podiums. I got into it because it's a perfect template for self-discovery--a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual odyssey to more deeply understand myself, determine my purpose, and discover my place in the world. A way to tap into my unexplored reservoirs of potential--and touch the other side. This was the promise of Ultraman. And it delivered in spades.
  18. Bliss in depletion. I finally got it. It's that beautiful place of ascetic purity that is permitted to bloom only when the mind is stopped dead in its tracks and everything else is stripped away, leaving your soul--or who you really are--to forge a connection with the truth.
  19. To realize this vision, I risked everything. Because when the heart is true, the Universe will conspire to support you.
  20. My accomplishments were not won by virtue of some life-hack. Nor by taking any short cuts. I didn't leverage some "new idea" or act upon a secret previously unbeknownst to man. No, my accomplishments were wrought through pain. Through relentless perseverance and unwavering persistence. Through a commitment to being a little bit better today than I was yesterday. I am here because I embraced the journey, and all the pitches it could throw. I am here because I had extreme faith--in myself, in my song, and in something powerful beyond the self. And then, I busted my ass.
  21. Inspiration is easy. Transformation, and the heavy lifting required to achieve it, is hard.
  22. Employ what resonates, discard the rest.
  23. The search for what makes your heart beat hardest--and fidelity to its fullest, most devoted expression--is the very stuff of life. Rooted deep in our souls and coursing vigorously through our veins, it is our birthright, it is our lifeblood. And it is our sustenance. So, to repress that urge, or worse yet deny its very existence, is to squander the extraordinary gift of what it truly means to be human.
  24. Before you decide on the what, you need to know your why. To know your why, you need to know yourself. And that, my friends, is an inside job.
  25. As a precondition to freedom--the freedom to transform and manifest the life to which our higher self aspires--we must understand that this concept of identity we so desperately cling to is pure fantasy, constructed from a few isolated past experiences we improperly project as foregone conclusions to predict future outcomes. But none of this is real.
  26. The excuse that you don't have enough time is just that--an excuse. You do have time. It's a question of priorities. So turn the TV off at night. Shut down the internet. Take inventory of how much time you fritter away on non-essential activities that unnecessarily crowd your days and unjustifiably squander precious hours. Go to bed earlier. Then create a healthy boundary around your morning routine--this is your time, and you are not to be disturbed or interrupted. 
  27. Setting goals is important. They bring us focus and order to how you prioritize your resources, allocate your time, and exert your energy. They structure your day and bring intentionality to your actions and decision-making. Plus they're exciting.
  28. Although a goal must carry great personal meaning, in my experience, the pursuit of that goal is best served when it is also in service to something beyond the self.
  29. Stop being a supporting player in the movie that is your life. Become the movie star. This is a hero's journey you have embarked upon. It's high time you start acting like it.
  30. The configuration of our homes and offices, the restaurants we favor, the bars we frequent, the entertainment we enjoy, and the information sources we seek out all powerfully impact our state of mind, and thus our actions.
  31. Mood follows action. It's a simple yet profound mantra I rely upon daily to successfully combat psychic resistance.
  32. Understand first that failure indicates courage. It means you had the bravery to test yourself. The temerity to challenge your status quo. The audacity to step outside your comfort zone. That impulse is both inspiring and empowering. Hold on to it. And congratulate yourself for trying.
  33. There is only evolution or devolution. Growth or regression. There is no cruise control. Because stasis is an illusion.
  34. If my story stands for anything, it's that change isn't just possible, it's our mandate. And it's never too late.
  35. My mantra has become: Do what you love; love those you care about; give service to others; and know that you're on the right path.
  36. I can state with full confidence that an alkaline-promoting, whole-food plant-based diet is the most rapid recovery tool available to the athlete, a buffer against weight gain and lifestyle disease, as well as a crucial component in my success.
  37. Healthy gut bacteria create a craving for healthy foods, while pathogenic bacteria create a craving for unhealthy foods. Change your microbes and you change your cravings. Change your cravings and you change your life.