Bruce Lee was a famous martial artist, actor, and filmmaker. Known for movies like ‘Fists of Fury’ and ‘Enter the Dragon’ the actor used a style of martial arts known as Jeet Kune Do, but his perspective on life is far more unique.
Born in 1940 in San Francisco, California he was a child actor in Hong Kong who later returned to the U.S. and taught martial arts. He starred in the TV series The Green Hornet before becoming a major box office draw in The Chinese Connection. Unfortunately, he died before the release of his film Enter the Dragon, at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973. But his philosophical views have also lasted the test of time.
People are often drawn to his ideas about life, love, and the mind. Here are four principles that he used to strengthen his spirit that come directly from his notebook (3).
On willpower and emotions
He wrote, “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 act for any purpose, and I will form habits designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.” (1)
He wrote “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.” (1)
On reason, imagination, and memory
He wrote, “Recognizing that my positive and negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims, and purposes to my faculty of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.” (1)
He wrote “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. Creative intuition opens the wellsprings within man, activates the inner light, and is free and limitless.” (1)
He wrote, “Recognizing the value of an alert mind, and 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 recall to mind frequently.” (1)
On the subconscious mind and one’s conscience
He wrote, “Reorganizing 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 major 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.” (1)
He wrote “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 judgements, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right and wrong, but I will never set aside the verdict it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.” (1)
On understanding life
He wrote “You will never get more formalize than you expect. Concentrate your thoughts on what you want and what you don’t want. Calm observe what is happening inside yourself. No one can hurt you unless you allow them to. Inside yourself, at the psychological level, be no one. (1)
But he also said a great deal during his time as an icon, and his sayings also offer a great deal of perspective on life.
“If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” (2)
“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature, and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.” (2)
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” (2)
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” (2)
“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” (2)
(1) Bright side. 4 principles that Bruce Lee used to strengthen his spirit https://brightside.me/inspiration-psychology/4-principles-that-bruce-lee-used-to-strengthen-his-spirit-257610/ Accessed: January 11, 2017.
(2) Brainyquote. Bruce Lee quotes https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bruce_lee.html Accessed: January 11, 2017.
(3) Biography. Bruce Lee biography http://www.biography.com/people/bruce-lee-9542095#synopsis Accessed: January 11, 2017.
(4) Youtube. Top 10 coolest things about Bruce Lee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDjFAHN5G3g Published: July 31, 2014. Accessed: January 11, 2017.