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|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 20, 2015 at 5:20 PM|
“Don’t forget to breathe.” That is one of my favorite lines from any martial arts movie. Jet Li’s character reminds his young student, the films protagonist, of the importance of this simple activity at a pivotal moment in the film The Forbidden Kingdom. In a desire not to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, I’ll provide some intentionally vague elaboration on the point. The films main character has befriended two exquisite martial artists and has been training with both simultaneously. One has been taken captive by the films villain and our hero decides to mount a rescue. He’s scared though as he hasn’t seen real violence of the measure he can logically assume is about to occur. A reasonable emotion to be sure, and so, he asks his mentor portrayed by Jet Li: “What if I don’t know what to do?” To which of course he receives the reply: “Don’t forget to breathe.” A simple act, a simple solution, a big result.
We live in a time in which we are at the mercy of convenience. We have so many gadgets and methods for making our lives simpler, that we are in fact living at a faster pace than ever before. We get less sleep, less exercise, less time with our families and we rarely have time to eat a home cooked meal, let alone cook a meal at home. Running at such a fast pace, with such consistency while at the mercy of convenience can cause incredible stress and is of course very toxic. Think of it, when is the last time you allowed yourself to enjoy a drive somewhere while just listening to the radio instead of taking every call that came in? Never taking time to just be still and calm leaves us feeling drained, hollow and lonely.
These fast paced problems and stressors often seem to have no solutions and that is a daunting feeling. I am reminded though of a mantra of sorts of a past mentor of mine. When I was training at the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course in 2006 one of our instructors would frequently remind all of the young Lieutenants in the course that “for every combat problem, there is a relatively simple high explosive solution.” Evaluating that philosophy through the lens of non-warfighting daily routine living, we see that: for every problem in life there is a relatively simple high yield solution. Relatively simple. So, of course, depending on the scope and scale of the problem, achieving that simple solution can be complex. However, embrace this philosophy and you’ll likely find that the reasonably simple solutions are in fact just that – simple. Tired? Take a nap. Not eating well? Stop at the grocery store on the way home instead of the drive-thru. Can’t sleep? Turn of the TV you have in your bedroom – see what that does for your sleep. Pace of life too fast? Stop. Stop everything and just breathe for a minute.
Nearly every single problem we face in this fast paced world can be cured by simply slowing down. We will all make excuses as to why our particular problem/issue/ailment is worse and can’t be cured but often the unknown variable of how much work is involved in doing things simpler precludes us from doing it; and until we acknowledge that change requires action, we are likely to stay exactly where we are. And yet, the simplest of solutions will yield the most powerful of results. So the next time you are struggling to affect change but can’t seem to know what to do or how, “don’t forget to breathe.” It’s a simple action, a simple solution, and yields a powerful result.