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The Karate Mantra I Remember When I Compare Myself to My Pre-Sickness Abilities

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Our 7-year-old has been taking karate this summer. Last week was Parent’s Night so he got to try his hand at beating up Daddy. (I tried to convince him I should be his partner because when I hit the floor after stretching people would assume he knocked me out and he would look pretty cool!) As entertaining as the show was, that’s not what caught my attention.

Before each class the instructor asks, “What are you going to do today?” Each child replies by yelling, “Be my best, sir!”I took a moment to think about that very simple phrase. None of the kids said, “Be Bruce Lee’s best” or “Be Jackie Chan’s best.”

All too often I find myself trying to be someone else’s best. Even worse than trying to compare myself to others, I tend to compare myself to my pre-sickness self’s best. As much as I want to be well, I’m just setting myself up for failure because I’m comparing two completely different scenarios, which is far from fair. Essentially it would be the same as a 90-year-old assuming he can do 100 pushups because that’s how many he could do 70 years ago. Circumstances have changed. In the same way, it’s unfair to compare two carpenters who have different tool belts.

The short mantra is requesting something very simple: just to be your best that day and in that scenario. Some days my best looks like completing all of my exercises at physical therapy and showering. Some days my best looks like using oxygen and struggling to make it to the couch. As each day varies, so does the potential for my best, but no matter what, I can always strive to be my best in each moment and circumstance, each and every day.

Originally published: August 31, 2016
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