384: Dan Clark: How Cheating Death Kicked My Ass into Loving, Learning, and Living My Best Life

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Dan Clark began his career as an athlete, playing football for the Los Angeles Rams and in Europe. He later starred as Nitro on the extraordinarily popular reality television show American Gladiators. Clark then turned to acting and screenwriting. He wrote, directed, and starred in the independent film Looking for Bruce.

He recently hosted ESPN Classic’s American Gladiators marathon, and he continues to consult on the revamped American Gladiators franchise. He is the author of the memoir “Gladiator: A True Story of ‘Roids, Rage, and Redemption” and is currently authoring his next book. “Fuck Dying: How Cheating Death Kicked My Ass into Loving, Learning, and Living my Best Life”.

Favorite Success Quote

“Sports taught me about life. Almost dying taught me how to live” ~Dan Nitro Clark

Key Points

1. Don’t Wait to Be Happy 

Men in the 21st century seem convinced that happiness is something that can only be attained. 

It can only be attained when you get the hot girl, make the 7-figures, drive an Italian sports car, launch your company, or have that dream body.

But the truth of the matter is much different.

Happiness is not something that you attain. It is something that you give yourself.

Right now, in this very second, you have everything you need to feel happy and deeply believe that you have and are enough.

Right now, you can give yourself the gift of joy by choosing to focus on what is good instead of what is missing.

Right now, this very second, you have the power to be happy.

But many of you reading this are not…

And, in my experience, the primary reason that men don’t allow themselves to feel happy is that they believe happiness will steal their drive, ambition, and hunger.

And sometimes, they are right.

It’s a fine line to walk, and when you base your happiness on the wrong things, you might find that happiness does steal your ability to achieve and excel.

However, when you predicate your happiness on who you are and how you show up in the world… That’s when the game changes.

When you can give yourself permission to be happy now because you are working towards becoming the man that you need to be, that’s when the world will open up to you and you will find yourself becoming the best man you can become… And enjoying the hell out of the process.

As our first guest, Hal Elrod says, “Love the life you have while creating the life of your dreams.”

2. Comparison is the Theif of Joy 

It seems that our entire economy has been built on comparison.

If you look at the marketing and advertising for any popular company, you will undoubtedly notice that they are sending us a very loud and very clear message.

You are not good enough.

You don’t have the six pack like he does, you don’t have the car this guy drives, you don’t have the business this 20-year old built, you don’t have the girl like this pop star does.

And the list goes on and on.

Society encourages us to compare ourselves to others and enter into a laughable competition where we constantly try to gain a leg up on everyone else.

But guess what?

Comparing yourself to others is the most dangerous trap you can fall into.

Because there will always be someone who is smarter than you, bigger than you, better than you at something!

This is just how we were designed, it’s nothing more than biology and genetic variation… It doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of love and joy or that you shouldn’t be proud of yourself just because someone else is doing better.

Now some of you reading this might assume that comparison itself is a bad thing, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Comparison is only bad when we compare ourselves to others instead of the person we have the potential to become.

Compare yourself to who you want to be and who you know you have the potential to be.

Compare your current reality to the reality that you know is waiting for you if you can just rise up and take action.

When you entertain these kinds of comparisons, you will find that your life will start to transform and you will show up with more passion, enthusiasm, and best of all, joy.

3. Big Boys Don’t Cry… But Real Men Do 

When we are young, we are taught “Big boys don’t cry”.

We are told that showing emotion is a sign of weakness, that crying makes you a bitch, and that any displays of discomfort or internal turmoil immediately makes you a “beta” male.

And while that might have been true in the world of cavemen and neanderthals, it’s not true in modern life.

If you want to be a “real” man, a man who can show up with power, precision, and excellence, then you must cry.

You must learn how to deal with your emotions in a positive way instead of simply suppressing feelings that you dislike.

Emotions, in their most basic forms, are messengers.

They occur whenever we need to know or understand something.

Anger sends you a message that you have been wronged.

Sadness sends you a message that something important to you is not the way that it should be.

Happiness sends you the message that you are on the right track and making the right decisions.

Emotions are messengers.

And when we suppress the message, we end up doing more harm than good because we are not addressing the problem that the emotion is trying to warn us of.

However, when you allow yourself to feel everything deeply and intimately and ask yourself the question “What is this trying to tell me”, you empower yourself to move forward in your life and take charge of your mental and emotional well being in a powerful way.

When you feel angry, you don’t suppress it. You feel it and notice that it’s happening because someone is violating your standards. Now, you have the power to resolve the situation and eliminate the emotion.

When you feel sad, don’t suppress it. Instead, feel it and figure out why you are sad. What is causing your emotion? Find the answer, resolve the situation, and move forward in your life.

Big boys might not cry.

But you can be damn sure that real men do.

4. Express Gratitude for the Smallest Moments of Beauty 

Life is precious.

And sometimes, it takes knocking on death’s door to realize this.

When Dan had his heart attack, he came back with a renewed sense of appreciation and gratitude for even the smallest things in his life.

He spoke about the gratitude and awe he feels simply at the smell of coffee in the mornings.

He talked about how the flowers on the side of the road (which he used to ignore) fill him with a sense of wonder and joy.

Because at one point… He never thought he would smell the coffee or see those flowers ever again.

And because of this, he is grateful.

Luckily for you, you don’t need to experience a heart attack or near death experience in order to enjoy and appreciate the small moments of beauty in your life.

The only thing that you must do is commit and notice.

Each day when you wake up, find 3-5 simple beauties that you are grateful for.

Maybe it’s the way that the sun is coming through the windows, the peace you see on your partner’s face while they sleep, the aroma of your morning coffee, or the ecstasy that your dog expresses whenever you come out of your room.

Whatever it is, notice it and write it down.

I promise that if you make this a habit, your world will never be the same.

5. Just Do Something 

If you feel stuck in your health, your business, or your relationships… Just do something.

Don’t overthink it, don’t overanalyze it, just do something.

If you are writing a book and can’t figure out the perfect thing to put down on the paper… Just write something. Let it suck. Then edit it later.

If you are struggling with your health and can’t figure out how to lose that extra weight… Just do something. Go do 1,000 pushups, run a half marathon, or lift some weights and figure out the exact mechanics as you go along.

If you are struggling in your relationships, just do something. Start the conversation, open that door, be willing to be honest and vulnerable.

Whenever you find yourself stagnating, just do something.

As Winston Churchill said, “The best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, but the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Influential Books

1. Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded by Maxwell Maltz

2. Gladiator: A True Story of ‘Roids, Rage, and Redemption by Dan Clark

3. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

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Connect with Dan Clark

Dan’s Kickstarter

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