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It’s now springtime, and as the days get warmer and longer and as 2019 sinks in it is the perfect time for self-improvement. Books are marvelous for helping a person change and grow. I have a huge library of self-improvement books that range from business to spirit. It is truly one of my favorite genres, and I love nothing better than to pick a few personal projects every spring and go for it. Can’t Hurt Me—Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins was suggested to me as something I should perhaps read. I read it in two days with ease as it was compelling enough to near the ‘can’t put down’ bar.
David Goggins is a veteran Navy Seal who served in the battlefield and trained other Navy Seals. He also graduated from the Army’s Ranger program and is an accomplished ultramarathoner (100 plus miles). His life story before the Navy Seals is just as compelling as his harrowing effort to become a Navy Seal and a successful ultra athlete. David Goggins in his early years grew up in a house of profound domestic violence that included facing severe beatings. After he and his mother fled his childhood home, he faced poverty and racism in rural Indiana. Before David entered the Navy Seal program, he would hit rock bottom with being overweight, in a dead-end job, and an unhappy marriage. He needed something to live for, and becoming a Seal would be his target.
Against all odds (David had struggled greatly academically), David lost the weight and hit the books hard enough to pass the extremely tough entrance exam to be accepted into the Navy Seal program. One of the most intense parts of the book is when he takes us intimately inside his mind and the process of Navy Seal training—especially Hell Week where the candidates are put through a torturous week of non-stop training with only four hours of sleep total (for the entire week) allowed. Hell Week is no joke. Men lose their lives in the training, and many more drop out of the program. It is designed to test a soldier’s mind to its maximum limit. His main message is that we all have a governor in our minds that keeps us at 40% of our potential. However, if we can learn to manage and climb over pain, fear, and discomfort, then we can begin to lift our governor’s hold and expand our ability. His foray into ultramarathoning would be another gripping element that he uses as an example to show how much we really can achieve.
I loved the book. However, I am an admitted self-help junkie and love nothing more than tackling a serious personal challenge. I am very familiar with the genre of self-help and can see many of the common elements in this book that are in countless other books. What sets this book apart and makes it special is its particular focus on pain. He argues adamantly that today people are stupidly avoiding pain and misery—yet only through pain and misery can we (David Goggins’ term) ‘callous the mind.’ One must expose oneself to pain repeatedly for us to move past it and achieve great things. He deals with all sorts of pain from panic, to starvation, freezing, and intense physical pain. Intense, physical pain was the star in this book—and if you want a voice in your head to make you feel like a lame cry baby if you cut your workout short or caved in on your diet because you were hungry, then this is the book for you. He trained Navy Seals, after all, he knows how to get into your head.
Now, the parts where I think one should read this book with caution. If you get tense from heavy profanity, then this is not the book for you as the F-word was nearly in every paragraph. Also, if you are female, you might get a little annoyed by his constant use of the female sex organs as—especially the P-word—an insult someone who is underperforming. However, David Goggins is so honest about his life and his struggles that never does the book or his voice come to the level of being offensive, and he is clear that as the rare black Navy Seal (the Seals remain overwhelmingly white) he is sensitive to people being marginalized.
David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a great book to read if you want to move out of your comfort zone. It especially would be inspirational for anyone wanting to tackle a fitness goal or even a new sport. I found his voice in my head to be genuinely effective in sticking to my nutrition plan and pushing through discomfort pain of being hungry and sore. Can’t Hurt Me is not a misleading title, and his goal is to convince you that the only way nothing can hurt you is to face a lot of pain.
Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is available on amazon in hardcover, softcover, kindle, and audiobook. You can find it here.
Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”
Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.