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Diamond Dallas Page Tells America to Breathe

The retired professional wrestler preaches a positive message of person-centered self-improvement.

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With his grit and populist charisma, legendary wrestler Diamond Dallas Page, aka DDP, rose to the height of pop culture in 1997–1999 as he brought the wrestling world to the broader public with crossover appearances and matches with Hulk Hogan, the NBA star Karl Malone, and the Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Since then, he has maintained his influence in the culture by successfully reinventing himself as a motivational speaker and health guru through his work in his eponymous yoga program. 

However much confidence he has mustered to achieve these successes has not allowed him to lose touch with his servant-leader attitude. He is infectiously down-to-earth yet confident. I recently sat down with him for an in-depth discussion to learn about the secret to his success in business and what America can learn from it.

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As so many raised in the latter 20th-century America, Dallas Page was a victim of a broken home. He also suffered from conditions diagnosed as dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Early on he had visions of being a professional athlete but was hit by a car in 7th grade—shattering his knee and his sports plans. Nevertheless, this crisis of people telling him he cannot do something sparked in him a lifelong mindset of resilience and positivity that has influenced millions around the world.

Today, DDP’s main enterprise, DDP Yoga, has worked to bring longevity-increasing exercises, discipline, and mindset training to people not traditionally interested in yoga—particularly men. His videos of people’s transformations and interviews on programs like the Joe Rogan Experience have gone viral to millions of people looking for solutions in our negative culture and toxic dietary landscape. From his wrestling mentor Jake the Snake’s dramatic turnaround from addiction to the late Scott Hall’s journey to sobriety and, more recently, the retired boxer Butterbean’s health transformation, DDP has become a name associated with a never-give-up, positive spirit of healing.

DDP credits Napoleon Hill, the early 20th century positive thinking and hard work advocate, as an influence in his personal philosophy. Hill, the author of the popular book Think and Grow Rich, had a big impact on another WWE Hall of Famer: The former president Donald Trump, who credits the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, a student of Hill’s philosophy, with shaping his own worldview.

DDP has no interest in national politics. “Who owns the government? Big business. We don’t have government anymore, bro,” he said. 

Keeping with his populist perspective, he continued, “People say, ‘Your vote matters.’ No, it doesn’t.” When it comes to voting, he says he is the first guy to vote in local elections where change can happen. As for the 2024 presidential election: “They both suck...but Trump did do some pretty cool things.”

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Surveying the irreparability of politics, DDP quickly pivots back to the mind. “You can think you’re in control but, constantly, each one of us is hit with one adversity after the other, most of which we cannot control. The only thing we have control over is our mind.”

Whatever one thinks of concepts like “the power of positivity” or figures like Hill and Peale, there is no denying that there is something quintessentially American about the message DDP preaches. His American dream story of overcoming poverty with hard work and beating serial health and career setbacks with discipline and visualization harkens back to an earlier time in America wherein the culture celebrated underdogs overcoming challenges. This is in sharp contrast to today’s dominant culture of victimism in which people are encouraged to wallow in trauma and identify as oppressed in order to gain social status. 

Asked how America can get rid of its victim mentality in the workplace and the culture, DDP says, “The first thing you need to do is learn how to breathe.... When you own your breath, it’s like having a superpower. When you start to really own your discipline—those are two superpowers I have.” Rather than indulgence, he says, “Discipline is the truest form of self-love.” 

Whether you are in a car accident, giving birth, or reading an emotionally manipulative piece of propaganda from the news media, DDP says it’s the same physiological response. “If you start to get anxiety, I will guarantee you you are not breathing,” he predicts. “When you’re deep breathing, you are literally sending neural hormones to inhibit the stress producing hormones which triggers a relaxation response in the body.”

Asked what his state of the union speech would be to the American people, DDP rejects grand impositions of policies and brings it back to the person. He calls the public to take sovereignty over their minds and bodies: exercise, eat real foods (he eats organic and avoids seed oils), and practice daily deep breathing. It is reminiscent of President Kennedy’s calls for fitness.

Amid the chaos of foreign affairs, border invasions, inflation, crime, and social distrust, it is easy to want a hero to come save us from it all. That desire is the seductive recurrence of politics, especially presidential elections. However, DDP’s message cuts against that delusion. For years, he called himself the “people’s champion”; the message he is championing now at nearly 68 while standing on one foot with his other held above his shoulder is this: no one is coming to save you. Take your thoughts captive. Your emotions, including pride and fear, are not you. These too shall pass. Eat real foods and see your emotions improve. Stay out of debt. Exercise, even if you are trapped in bed or a chair, even if you are severely ill or obese. Breathe deeply when bombarded by a media owned by hostile interests. Find a way to serve others and watch how much more abundant life becomes in the process.

So many negative thoughts invade our minds daily when we challenge ourselves. When DDP approached the podium of the WWE Hall of Fame as an inductee surrounded by his daughters, he thought, “The only voice I will allow to come in: This is going to be the greatest thing I’ve done in professional wrestling.”

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