Life Health & Wellbeing

Sunday 21 September 2014

How injuries can steer you to new world

Mind your step

Declan Coyle

Published 16/06/2014 | 02:30

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Each one a winner: 40,000 took part in the women’s mini-marathon last Monday. Injuries may have prevented some from taking part – but the downtime can be used to pursue another sport or pastime. Photo: Sportsfile.
Each one a winner: 40,000 took part in the women’s mini-marathon last Monday. Injuries may have prevented some from taking part – but the downtime can be used to pursue another sport or pastime. Photo: Sportsfile.

First of all a warm congratulations to the 40,000 woman who took part in the 31st Flora Women’s Mini-Marathon in Dublin last Monday. Every participant is a real winner.

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One woman, however, thought some months ago that she was a loser. She was training very hard for the mini-marathon, but then she tore her achilles tendon.

She was feeling fairly miserable when she called me on the phone. I reminded her of what Helen Keller said: “The world is full of suffering, but it is also full of overcoming.”

The German theoretical physicist Max Planck discovered that “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. He originated quantum theory which won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918. What Max told us was to continually ask the question: “Is there another way of looking at this?”

John F Kennedy was a believer in this way. “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity,” he explained.

The reality is that each problem has within it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. Some of the greatest success stories came to people who recognised a problem, then changed the way they looked at it, changed their inner story, interpretation or meaning and turned it into an opportunity.

If you can’t  run, go swimming or cycling. Who knows, you might be opening up a totally new world to yourself

Like the story of the Taoist farmer who lived in a remote village in China. He farmed a small plot of land with his wife and his son. One day a wild horse galloped on to his land and began to graze in the farmer’s field. According to the law the horse then rightfully belonged to the farmer. His son was delighted. So were the neighbours. But the farmer said: “Don't be too quick to judge. Who knows what’s good or bad.”

The following day the horse broke out of the field and galloped off into the forest. His son was heartbroken. His neighbours were sad. Again the farmer said: “Don't be too quick to judge. Who knows what’s good or bad.”

Three days later the horse returned with 20 mares. The son couldn’t believe his good fortune. “We’re rich,” he shouted. But again the father said: “Don't be too quick to judge. Who knows what’s good or bad.”

The following week while riding one of the horses, the boy fell and broke his leg. The boy was whining, moaning and complaining about his miserable fate as they wiped the sweat from his forehead. Again his father said: “Don't be too quick to judge. Who knows what’s good or bad.”

The following week war broke out and the army came to the village and recruited all the young men – except for one young man who was unable to fight due to a broken leg.

The story of the Taoist farmer is much more than an ancient fable. It offers us a vital lesson for our journey through life.

The woman who tore her tendon changed the way she looked at it. She focused on what she could do. She went to the gym. She built up other parts of her body and discovered some great pool exercises. She is well on the way to recovery.

As Helen Keller also declared: “When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened up for us.”

So, if you’re injured, don’t just pack everything in and lose your discipline. Instead, if you can’t run, go swimming or cycling. Who knows, you might be opening up a totally new world to yourself.

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