The ever-illuminating BrainPickings recently published exclusive archival images from the Bruce Lee Estate of the small pocket notebooks the legendary martial artist carried with him everywhere. He wrote down quotes, affirmations, appearances, training, philosophical ideas, even poetry. In an excerpt from his 1968 pocketbook, written shortly before his 28th birthday —four years before his death— he addressed seven aspects of the self, and created practices and reminders for each to make it a daily habit. He seems to have taken the “Daily Success Creed” of aspirational guru Napoleon Hill as a jumping off point for his own practices.
Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind, I will exercise it daily, when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form HABIT designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.
Realizing that my emotions are both POSITIVE and negative I will form daily HABITS which will encourage the development of the POSITIVE EMOTIONS, and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.
Recognizing that both my positive & negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculties of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.
Recognizing the need for sound PLANS and IDEAS for the attainment of my desires, I will develop my imagination by calling upon it daily for help in the formation of my plans.
Recognizing the value of an alert memory, I will encourage mine to become alert by taking care to impress it clearly with all thoughts I wish to recall, and by associating those thoughts with related subjects which I may call to mind frequently.
Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my CLEAR PURPOSE in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture CONSTANTLY BEFORE my subconscious mind by REPEATING IT DAILY.
Recognizing that my emotions often err in their over-enthusiasm, and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right & what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.
What interests us most is that Lee practiced like a martial artist in all aspects of his life, with daily exercises for both mind and body. That is the true meaning of Kung fu. He famously said:
Be like water making its way through cracks.
Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object,
and you shall find a way through it.
Be water, my friend.
His notebooks are evidence that even with the greatest mastery in one aspect of one’s work or life, practice and reminders to center us on our path is an essential key to living.
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Read more from Bruce Lee’s notebooks at BrainPickings.