Wisdom comes from failure

I just wanted to share a quick quote that is truly relevant to the way we treat our bodies and how we bring them back to health.

We learn wisdom from failure much more than success.  We often discover what we will do by finding out what we will not do.  ~Samuel Smiles

As we age, our bodies cease being able to do certain motions — not because age automatically means we can’t do certain things, but because we aren’t challenging our bodies to do the things we used to do.  Kids, for example, run, jump, skip, hop, climb, crawl, tumble, and roll all the time, and their bodies have no problem dealing with it. 

Over time, as they become acculturated to modern life, told to sit still, forced to slouch in a desk for hours on end, they lose the freedom of movement and the range of motion and resiliency that they had.  Those who remain athletic, keep their resiliency. Those who don’t, lose it.

For adults, the easiest way to test your musculoskeletal health is to see what your body can do!  If you find you can’t even stand up from your chair without pain and stiffness in your hips, you have learned a valuable lesson.  If you find you can no longer reach something in the top cupboard, you have learned a valuable lesson.  If you find you can’t lie in bed for 2 hours without severe pain somewhere in your body, you also have learned a valuable lesson.

For some the lesson is more subtle.  Maybe you can’t twist your upper body in one direction, or one arm just can’t reach over your head like the other.  Or one hip pops and pulls every time you try to do judo throw.  No matter what the “failure” is, the lesson is the same.

The lesson is that your body needs more movement, more testing, and more failure so that you can gradually coach and coax your body back to a healthier, more resilient, more mobile state.  It takes a lot of failure, a lot of time, and a lot of testing of your limits to find how to best work with your body, but ultimately it’s the only way to restore the youthful ease you once felt in your body.


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.