CrossFit as Eudaimonia

Workout of the Day for Monday August 12, 2013

For time:
30 reps Squat Clean and Jerk, 155/105 pounds

The barbell goes from ground to overhead, passing through a front squat in which the crease of the hip passes below the height of the kneecap. The finish position is with the arms, hips and knees fully extended, arms overhead, with at least a portion of the ear visible in front of the arm. Dropping the barbell is acceptable.


The following thoughts are taken from the CrossFit Journal Article: Aristotle in a Box

“Men will be good or bad builders as a result of building well or badly.” —Aristotle

The road to a good life—an excellent, happy life—requires difficult, uncomfortable steps for both mind and body. The road is long but gets easier—on the road we are helped along by our friendships, by courage and by self-love, each of which are, in turn, nourished as we take each step. Each success gets imprinted on my character, and I become a little bit more “one-who-succeeds.”

“Man is by nature a social animal.” —Aristotle

We need each other to flourish, on a practical level and on a spiritual one. Aristotle described many kinds of friendship, but true friendship for him was manifested in those relationships where each person actively sought to help the other to flourish as well. This was not a “yes friend” then. It meant being willing to critique, to help one’s friend see a clearer path toward his goals, to help him get back on track when drifting. True friendship for Aristotle was not always fun or easy, though, of course, it sometimes could be.

“States of character arise out of like activities.” —Aristotle

We choose to re-create who we are through our actions. We choose to move ourselves forward toward flourishing. The good news for Aristotle is that the choice becomes easier the more you cultivate a habit. As he reflected on the importance of habit—and the internalization of the virtues (or vices) through habit- formation—Aristotle distinguished between three types of personalities:

• The weak-willed personality is the person who desires those behaviors or things that will hinder his or her flourishing.

• The continent personality is the person who desires the thing that is bad for him/her—but has the power to control that desire.

• The person who has desires “rightly ordered” is the temperate person. He or she does not want the thing that will hinder flourishing. These people have cultivated their desires to be in line with their flourishing.

But, Aristotle’s point here is essential: the more we cultivate good practices through habit formation, the more we internalize the virtues informing them, the more we want to perform those virtuous actions, the easier it becomes to choose those virtuous actions, the more we cultivate the habit. And repeat.

Every virtue has a golden mean: a sweet spot in-between an excess and a deficiency of the trait. We fail to reach that Golden Mean between excess and deficiency all the time. For example, If self-love is a virtue we can fail to practice self love when we practice egotism (excess of self-love) or self-loathing (deficiency of it).

Finally, to be virtuous requires practical wisdom: that through experience we learn to spot the Golden Mean; when, why and how to be virtuouswhich leads to human flourishishing.

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