As a youngster, my captivation with Dragon Ball Z stemmed from my extreme desire to have super awesome ki powers, extreme strength, instant transmission/teleportation, the list is never ending. However, upon a recent rewatch of the series, I realized that there is a massive amount of wisdom to be gained from the themes and messages presented. Don’t get me wrong I still want the ki powers, but the more human struggles are impressively accounted for as well . Vegeta and his constant struggle with pride and ego, Gohan’s balancing act between pleasing his mother’s wishes and finding his own path, Trunks and wanting to make his father proud, and we can’t leave out Goku… or can we? What I mean is that Goku seems to rise above all obstacles in a superhuman fashion that is truly inspirational. He meets despair and fatigue with a smile, and his approach to life merits a W.W.G.D. (what would Goku do) slogan if anyone’s ever did. I analyzed his attitude and approach to all of the situations, and I think I have come up with the reason he shines so brightly even without his saiyan glow.
It isn’t simply that he has extreme determination. His unwillingness to give up and his incredible work ethic don’t completely reveal his greatness either. What makes Goku a true inspiration is that he is entirely, honestly, the embodiment of pushing past your limits. He pushes, fights, trains, not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. He wishes only to be better than he was before, and will stop at nothing to reach the next level. The beautiful thing is that his pride and ego have no influence and do not factor into his mindset. He does not train to be better than the people around him. Goku only trains to focus on being better than himself. It is the truest expression of self improvement.
Whenever Kakarot does face an adversary with greater skills or ability, he does not get frustrated, and he never backs down. Instead he appreciates that someone exists that is beyond his current ability, because it means he can learn to be greater by studying his opponent. This is the greatest aspect of Goku’s mindset. An enemy is not something to be feared or avoided. Rather, they can be viewed as a source of knowledge. Through observation and analysis, the opponent can be broken down and understood. This mindset is the key to Goku’s greatness, and it can be applied in our own lives as well.
While it may be true that he is an imaginary figure, I for one firmly believe that the lessons we take from fictional characters can equal and even surpass the ones from real life bad asses. The reason being that often times the trials and obstacles we face (pain, sadness, fear) seem as daunting as the monsters or aliens from fiction, and having a metaphorical representation of our own fears and doubts can also provide us with a way to visualize a solution.
So, next time you are struggling or avoiding things that may induce pain or fear, ask yourself… What can I do to learn from this? Always remember, anything and everything can be used to better yourself with the right application. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and practice my Kamehameha!