What the Karate Kid can teach us about combating pandemic anxiety

In the 2010 Karate Kid movie, young Jaden Smith’s character, Dre Parker, is initially a wide eyed kid that’s feeling out of place in a new country. When he gets bullied by his classmates who beat him up by using Kung Fu on him, he enlists the help of Jackie Chan’s character, Mr.Han.

He thinks he can learn some fancy Kung Fu moves and fend off all his bullies in a matter of weeks.

The funny thing is that the first thing that Mr. Han teaches Dre is to pick his jacket up from the floor and hang it nearly on the coat holder.

Jaden is made to do this for hours.

Throw the jacket on the floor, pick it up and hang it properly. And repeat.

Dre is frustrated but he sticks with the training.

Through the course of the movie we see young Jaden build from basic moves and become very good at Kung Fu, eventually standing up to his bullies and growing up along the way.

But that scene where Dre is taught to repeatedly so a simple move has stuck with me. Repetition is how martial artists create muscle memory.

Training the mind isn't all that different.

If you feel like the current lockdown has thrown you off your game and you're not sure how to regain control, you're not alone.

From missed workout routines to binge eating to being unable to focus and having anxiety attacks, it seems as though chaos is the order of the day.

Quite like Dre, we are all stuck. Blindsided by this bully of a pandemic and unsure of how to handle it.

And the antidote it seems lies in the undramatic coat hanger training.

You don't have to inhale a million Motivational talks, or read self improvement literature to combat the anxiety you're currently feeling.

You only need to partake in a simple exercise like the one Mr.Han had Dre undertake.

And that is to make your bed and fold your blanket every single morning.

I've tried it myself and I can tell you from personal experience that this is more powerful than it looks. The small amount of discipline it takes to shake off early morning grogginess to properly set the bed and fold the blanket somehow tunes your mind.

Suddenly, your mind is looking around for other things in the room that can be tidied up and the various things in your life that could use some fine tuning. You start this little ripple that slowly draws you away from the monumental task of worrying about the state of the world. There's not a whole lot you can do about that right now. But what you can do is make your bed every morning.

Start there. And we'll get through this pandemic one day at a time.

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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