Category Archives: Eastern philosophy

Two major pieces of wisdom from Bob Lee Swagger and Stephen Hunter

Stephen Hunter crafts some of the best books out there, and he easily ranks among my favorite authors.

I studied his novels extensively as I undertook the more mature phase of my writing career in my early twenties, and I’m now re-reading “Point of Impact” for at least the fourth or fifth time.

Quick sidenote: For those who don’t know, Hunter created Bob Lee Swagger for Point of Impact, as well as the books that follow in the series. And Swagger, aka “Bob the Nailer,” remains one of the best and most iconic characters you’ll find anywhere.

Here are two major pieces of wisdom from the great Marine Sniper, Bob Lee Swagger, that I just unearthed. Please note, in both scenes he’s describing a trophy buck that lives up above him, and that he’s named Old Tim.

First piece of wisdom: Strive to be tough

“Old Tim, scarred and beat up, with many an adventure behind him. Tim would be alone, too: Tim didn’t have a harem, and didn’t need one anymore. One year Tim had had a prong of antler shot off by some lucky city dick from Little Rock and looked out of balance for a whole season. Tim had limped another whole year because Sam Vincent, not as spry as once he’d been, had held sloppy and put a .45-70 softpoint — too much gun, but Sam loved that old Winchester — into his haunches, and only bled him bad enough to kill any normal buck.

“Tim was tough, Bob knew, and that was the kindest word he had for anybody, living or dead.”

Second piece of wisdom: Live in the present

“Bob loved their magic. When he had hunted men, there was no magic. Men were stupid. They farted and yakked and gave themselves away miles before they moved into the killing zone.

“But the deer, particularly the old Ouachita stags, appeared like ghosts, simply exploding out of brushy nothingness, as if they were superior visitors from another planet. And they were superior, in their way, Bob knew: their senses were so razor keen, everything focused on the next two minutes. That was their secret. They didn’t think about the last two minutes, which had ceased entirely to exist in the second after they were experienced, had evaporated entirely. They only thought about the next two minutes. No past, no real future. There was only now.”

One final endnote. For those who hate the thought of Bob Lee Swagger killing this fine deer, fear not. Bob only shoots it with a plastic bullet designed to stun the deer. And each year, he hunts it, shoots it in the spine with this plastic bullet, and then in the few minutes that it’s immobile, he saws off its antlers.

Bob doesn’t believe in killing, and he hates the thought that scores of hunters ascend into the mountains to kill this trophy buck. So his act of hunting and removing its trophy rack is one of mercy.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.


Filed under Eastern philosophy, Motivation

Four pieces of advice for someone who’s beaten down by life and in a tough spot

I suppose it’s time to put up a new post, but I must confess I’m a bit more nervous than usual.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of new people subscribe to my blog, and quite simply, I am not used to this many people waiting to hear my words. I am not as familiar with this new crowd, and I feel added pressure to impress.

But this desire to impress conflicts with my journey toward humility, so let me begin by saying to the newcomers that I am nothing.

And while it is true that I aspire to greatness, I have not reached it.  Before I went to bed last night, I studied philosophy and a new martial arts book. When I awoke this morning, I did the same. (And, yes, I did this even though I am on vacation.)

If you came looking for some self-assured loudmouth, who spouts catchy lines and speaks deeply, with self assurance, then you have come to the wrong place.

For, as my friends will tell you, I am most certainly not that man.

I am a student. I am a disciple. And I am hungry.

Now, let us begin.

I would like to share with you an event that happened with me several months ago. A person I was coming into contact with regularly (I am purposefully being very vague to protect his identity), and who was clearly beat down, began to seek my advice on some things.

This man was in a very difficult situation. He was a cancer survivor, who continued to struggle with health problems. He had serious financial problems because his spouse couldn’t work, and his own job was in jeopardy (so far, he still has it). And worst of all, he was in his mid-50s, in a career he hated, and lacked the desire or funds to go learn a new skill.

I had a lunch with him and listened for nearly an hour. It was very trying and difficult, and I let him vent and pulled probably far more information from him than he wanted. (Hey, I’m a former reporter. I ask lots of deep questions.)

But while listening, his situation really pulled down my energy. Frankly, I just wanted to run. But that goes against my desire to “feel others’ pain as if it’s your own,” and to help others with compassion and love.

Toward the end, I steeled myself, tried to fire myself up, and humbly offered a few suggestions. ALL OF THEM were shot down, with comments such as “I know that, Stan.” And it was true, this was a very well-educated person, who had a couple decades on me.

Worst of all, by the time I tried to help, I think it had hit the person how embarrassing it was that they were seeking my help and had shared all of that. I instantly stopped suggesting things, tried to exude as much love and energy as I could, and said everything I could say to build them up.

We both left the lunch feeling pretty uncomfortable. I was completely frustrated that I’d wasted a lunch trying to help someone that “knew” too much to be helped.

But I thought on it some, and after several days, I decided I’d try to help them one more time. (Even at the risk of hurting our friendship. The person clearly needed it, and it totally depressed me to know how much pain they were in.)

So, I thought I’d share below the email I finally sent, in the hopes it might help someone on my subscriber list, as well. Perhaps you, too, are in a difficult situation or a bit beaten down by life. It’s my great hope that at least one piece of advice helps you in your own struggles.

Okay, XXXXX,

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about our conversation on Friday and the very difficult situation you find yourself in.

I’m a natural giver, and I like trying to help people, and much of what I said didn’t seem to offer much help.

Ever since we talked, I imagined if the situation was reversed, and how I would feel if I were in your shoes. And imagining that made me really search for some answers, since clearly you’re in a tough spot.

I thought I’d throw out a few suggestions, which hopefully you take the right way. One thing I need to preface my comments with is that at one point on Friday, you said, “I know all of this.” And there’s no doubt that you do, but the problem is you’re not practicing it.

And as I once heard a millionaire businessman say, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you do. You can know how to do sales, but if you don’t do them, you’re not helping my company and your knowledge has little to no value.”

So, here are a few suggestions I’d toss out.

1) Fire your friends. Or most of your friends. You’re really beat down and pessimistic right now, so whoever your friends are, they’re the wrong friends. Time to start working yourself away from them, and toward some new ones. New ones with a much more positive attitude about life, and who are far more energetic and happy.

2) Read some books. Books provide fuel. You should consider reading some self-help books on motivation and drive, and some biographies, as well. There have been people in tough situations and they found ways to persevere. (Here’s a great one I’ve read about a woman with terminal cancer, no job, no health insurance, and an inability to pay the next month’s rent.)

3) You mention not having any energy, and I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I’m just 37 and I never had cancer and I feel similarly, quite often. (Mine is due to poor eating, something I’m trying to work on.) Anyway, you’ve got to get more energy, which would also go miles toward helping your attitude, so try to find something you enjoy doing. Maybe to start, just walk two laps around the work building, both in the mornings and afternoons, even if you have to stay a little later at work.

4) You need to try to watch less TV. Watching TV, besides sucking up time, also leaves people feeling depressed afterward. It’s like a short-term drug that crushes you when you turn it off, because your mind isn’t stupid and it knows you wasted two-plus hours on something you shouldn’t have, when there are chores to do, exercise that’s needed, etc, etc.

Anyway, that’s some advice I had after chewing on it a bit. None of it sounds any fun, but we really don’t have any choice. Life is going to beat the hell out of you whether you’re prepared to fight it back or not. So, we can pick ourselves up and punch it back, or take it on the ground while we’re curled in a ball.

I think you’re a million times stronger than you give yourself credit for, and you’re just in a valley and feeling down right now.

Hopefully, some of this helps a bit. No need to answer and if I crossed the line by providing these suggestions, then I apologize in advance.

Just know I’ve got nothing but love for you and just wanted to share some encouragement. And you ought to consider that book. It has some amazing advice, and though some of it is about selling, ultimately if you’re going to be management, then you need to do a better job selling yourself. So, I think it totally applies and would make a good first book on the road to rebuilding yourself to the level — and eventually higher — that you were once on.

You’re a bad-ass, who’s just beaten down. Start rebuilding yourself one step at a time, and in no time, you’ll regain your confidence.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.


Filed under Eastern philosophy, Faith in the world, Motivation

My big news, and as much motivation as I can possibly shove your way

I hinted to big news recently and I figure I’ve procrastinated about as long as I can on writing it.

Typically, I knock these things out with barely a strain, same as I’ve written literally thousands of news articles. (And those were on deadline, under intense pressure, with the possibility of being sued for tons of money if I misquoted someone or made a mistake.)

But this one is different because I’m talking about myself, and like most writers, I can diagnose the hell out of someone else, but ask me to talk about myself and I flee like a crawdad shooting back under a rock.

At any rate, I’ve dallied too long and seriously disappointed my journalism teachers, by backing into this story as pathetically as a first-year journalism student. “Just put the news in the first graph. In a single sentence!” they’d harp.

Enough. The news is this: I am now a full-time author. (Fireworks explode, an audience leaps to its feet in applause, and girls from high school who never looked my way start pounding their heads against the table.)

Wait, none of that actually happened, did it? Well, of course it didn’t.

But while none of that happened, I assure you this is a big deal for me.

My earliest dream as a child was to be a writer, and while I strayed from that goal with my time in the Marines and in the newspaper business, I’ve never stopped writing fiction on the side. (And thankfully, the stories are a little better now than when I was nine or ten.)

I’m very fortunate to be where I am. I know so many incredible writers who are striving to reach this point, and I hope I never take being a full-time author for granted.

I’d be lying if I said I never thought this was possible though. I’m a dreamer, and I constantly work on my mental beliefs, reading self-help books on a regular basis and imagining myself successful (even when I was massively in debt and without health insurance).

Now, I’m here, and truthfully, I thought it’d take longer. Maybe another three years or so, and probably four or five more books.

But thankfully, my books have caught fire and that timeline has advanced nicely.

I owe each and every one of you, and I always swore to myself that if I were lucky enough to “make it,” I’d help encourage as many others as possible to reach their dreams, as well. (That’s why I constantly post motivating videos and thoughts, which I know can grate on you when you’re not where you want to be in life and it feels like the entire world is plotting against you in the most one-sided, unfair fight in the world.)

But that’s where I was just a few years ago. Just ask my close friends or my many creditors to whom I owed more than $100,000 in business debt.

But I kept believing, I kept fighting, and I want you to do the same. So, instead of any more gushy thoughts about my feelings — of which there are many right now, I assure you — I want to use the remaining space to try to inspire and motivate you. (If it works at all, share parts of it with some friends or others you know are struggling.)

So, what thoughts of mine could possibly help you? I’ve been chewing on that a bit…

Statistically, I know how staggering the odds are against success for either you or me. But I have always tried to lean on my most spectacular attribute! Without question, I’m honestly a little dense and stubborn and stupid when it comes to “impossible odds,” and these traits have served me well, teaching me to never give up. To completely ignore someone when I hear “you can’t” or “that will never work.”

And I’d encourage you to do the same, including evaluating immediately if your friends and family are supportive, or are they instead negative cynics who keep dragging you back to the ugly present. (If the latter, start looking for supporters and people you can look up to. Immediately. This journey is hard enough without carrying a lot of dead weight.)

The other two things I have going for me is I’ve never had much money, and the Marine Corps helped inject into me a little bit of crazy belief.

The good news for you is you probably don’t have much money either, or you wouldn’t be reading this. The bright side to not having much money is it creates an amazing drive.

And you don’t have to go to boot camp to get what I got from the Corps. You, too, can get some of that crazy belief by reading dozens of amazing self-help books, same as I’ve done. (Here are two to start with: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline and Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny.)

Finally, I have mentioned before that I love to study Eastern Philosophy and martial arts. This heavy mental and physical training gives me loads of belief and energy.

And on that note, I want to quote just a few things from some of the Eastern Philosophy that I’ve studied (and that I love so much), in the hopes that it might help you. (The following quotes come from the once-secret book titled, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, which was written back in the early 1700’s.)

And in that book, you’ll find the following passages:

  • “Even if you begin without talent, you can become great if you imitate a good model and put forth enormous effort.”
  • “Emulate the best behaviors of those around you.”
  • “In military affairs, a man must always strive to outstrip others.” <— I’m applying this to fiction writing.
  • “In the stories of the elder warriors, it is said that on the battlefield, if one wills himself to outstrip warriors of accomplishment, and day and night hopes to strike down a powerful enemy, he will grow indefatigable and fierce of heart and manifest courage. One should use this principle in everyday affairs, too.”
  • “It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain what you have seen and heard others attain. The masters are men. You are also a man. If you think you will be inferior, then you are well on your way.”

And the following quotes are from The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. I highly recommend this book, as it’s without question the greatest book I’ve ever received (after the Bible, which you already know about).

  • “Getting your body and mind right can affect your whole life.”
  • “Think you are handsome and beautiful. If you have a negative outlook about yourself, you’ll definitely fail.”
  • “The more chi you put into your life, the more you’ll get out of it.”
  • “Nothing is difficult or easy in itself. We make it difficult or easy with our attitude. If you don’t want to do it, then nothing is easy.”
  • “Strong body, strong mind. Weak body, weak mind.”
  • “You create your own life. You make it heaven or hell. Destiny is not something that happens to you. You make your own destiny.”
  • “A foolish person wishes for good things to happen to them, but fortune, success, and happiness rarely just fall in your lap. You must grasp your life and sharpen it.”
  • “Confidence is the most important key to success in all areas of your life. Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. If you lack self-confidence, you can’t get the job done. You will find it difficult to succeed in any endeavor. Face your day today with the confidence that you can handle any task, solve any problem, overcome any obstacle!”

Inspired, I hope? Then read this: Find true happiness: announce your dreams to the world today, and get busy chasing your own dreams. And don’t forget to share this with that friend on their own journey. Or one who wants to get moving on their own journey.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.


Filed under Eastern philosophy, Faith in the world, Motivation, Stories about my life

An administrative note on my blogs

Okay, guys. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been struggling of late with my focus for this author blog of mine. My numerous competing passions have been pulling at me, and it’s probably shown.

Sometimes, my posts have been inspirational. Sometimes, they’ve been military/foriegn policy in nature. Sometimes, they’ve had something to do with Eastern Philosophy or living in the moment.

SO, to cut down on this lack of focus, I’ve made a decision to restart an old blog and start a new one.

Now, there will be three options for you to choose from.

1) On this current site ( that you are already subscribed to, I will continue to post about things that motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh. My efforts are paying off, and I intend to inspire, drag, or shame as many of you as possible into your own dreams. So, if you need the motivation or inspiration, or just want to keep up with me as I continue to pursue my author career with everything that I have, there’s no need to do anything. Please, stick around. I love having each and every one of you.

2). If you care about military matters, I am relaunching Marine Watch, a blog on American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps. If this is something you’re interested in, please go there and subscribe.

3) Finally, I’m launching a new blog on one of my other lifelong passions: martial arts and Eastern Philosophy. My search for the way will be about martial arts, physical fitness, and ESPECIALLY everything that goes with Eastern philosophy — mindfulness, living in the moment, and eastern philosophy. You can read about why I’m launching the site here, so if you’re interested, please subscribe for email alerts and join me there.

I hope having more specific blogs will lead to greater focus and community for each of the sites. Thanks for everyone’s patience, support, and friendship. I hope to catch you all at one of the sites — or even multiple ones.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m an action fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.


Filed under Eastern philosophy, Faith in the world, Fighting and training, Marine Corps, National security, Stories about my life

Some inspiration and hope for the week

Hope these inspire (or inform) you! (Inspiring quotes up top; military updates/news at the bottom.)

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Filed under Best tweets of the week, Eastern philosophy, Faith in the world