(CNN) – Sports, it’s been said, reveals character. It also reveals something else: philosophy.
There’s no better example of this than Rafael Nadal, the 35-year-old professional tennis player who’s competing this week at the French Open. Nadal is not just a gladiator on the court — he’s a philosopher at heart.
You may know Nadal’s tennis credentials. The Spaniard has won a record 21 Grand Slam titles and 13 French Open tournaments. He’s revolutionized the sport with his ferocious topspin forehand, his freakish strength and his relentless drive. He is arguably the greatest male tennis player ever.
But it is Nadal’s mind that may separate him from his greatest rivals. His ability to play with physical pain, to come back from devastating injuries, to problem-solve during a match — all are part of his greatness. So is his attitude — his visceral delight in competing, whether he wins or loses.
He also has a rare philosophical approach to tennis and life that one sportswriter described as a “model of humility, empathy and perspective.”
Lesson 1: Embrace your suffering
Lesson 2: The importance of rituals
Lesson 3: Be humble
Lesson 4: Don’t worry about what you can’t control