When You Fall Down Seven Times…

By Richard Posner


Stand up eight times.  I came across this old Japanese proverb in a karate blog.  It caught my attention because I can relate to it…and probably you can too.

Nothing under the sun is perfect, but we do have a choice to either accept things for what they are and move forward or grumble about every petty and not-so-petty challenge or unfairness in our lives.

The former will allow us to run to daylight; the latter will stir us into a stew of perpetual failure and unhappiness.

The next time you reminisce about youthful heartbreak and despair, remember one point — You survived!   And nobody in this present moment (you should be living in) cares an amoeba second about what your misfortune may have been.

In fact, if you incessantly tell people about the good old days or the bad old days, they will label you a sad relic incapable of being resurrected.  They will naturally move away from you and move toward people and ideas cherishing life.

Living in the present moment is exhilarating because it is within our grasp.  It is a time zone that challenges us to take action to make this world – through our unique presence – a bigger and better place because we passed through.

Times are tough, we hear over and over again.  But the truth is that character is not built when everything is going hunky-dory. 

Sometimes Japanese stoicism makes me feel that their citizens are indifferent to and enamored from experiencing pain.  It makes me feel that maybe they never ponder anything philosophical and do live more in the present moment than many of their westerner counterparts.  In other words, maybe they are racially superior.

But then there is the dark side of giggling indifference and vapid pursuit of material things here…the more than thirty thousand suicides in Japan each year.  They scream of a society that is constipated with worry and stress unspoken and uncorrected.

Stepping back from the rush of events threatening to swallow us up is essential for sanity.  That’s why professors with tenure get a sabbatical.  In that time off they can explore new avenues which can help them better define who they are in the scheme of things and how they can best contribute to humankind.

We all deserve and must demand time to reflect.  Once we have done that, we can stand for the eighth time and never look back again.

Give this theory a whirl and see whether your life isn’t percolating within an hour.