Kicking stress with Kung Fu Panda

Have you ever stopped and wondered if a tortoise is speaking directly to you?

I have.

I was watching Kung Fu Panda with my wife and children at the weekend. I hadn’t planned to – there was shopping to do, and the sun was shining outside – but I was enjoying it and surrendered.

A line spoken by a wise old tortoise made me sit up and pay attention.

“You are too concerned with what was and what will be. There is a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

The tortoise’s words might as well have been parcelled up in a brightly coloured package addressed to me and delivered by the tortoise himself.

“He’s right!” I thought. I spend so much time getting stressed about things that have happened or making plans for the future that I don’t stop to savour what’s happening in the here and now.

Some other wise words – this time from John Lennon – have also sprung out at me recently:

“Life is just what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

He’s right too.

Sometimes life isn’t about doing great things, or making bold plans. It’s about doing things with no obvious purpose – not things you need to do, or that will achieve something.

I’m used to aiming high and aspiring to achieve lofty ambitions. I’ve forgotten how to relax and to do things simply because I enjoy doing them. My mind is often somewhere else.

I’ve always thought about life in terms of what I will – or should be – when I grow up; about how I can inspire my children and be a role model to them.

I spend a lot of time setting myself challenges, tackling them and trying to prove myself, but actually my greatest challenge is to take off the self-imposed pressure, get off the achievement treadmill and do more things purely for pleasure.

For example, I enjoy doing jigsaws, but I never do them, because there’s no real point. I don’t get anywhere in life by doing a jigsaw.

But things like jigsaws do have a point. Doing something you enjoy is vital for your mental wellbeing.

I devote so much thought and time to having a healthy, balanced diet and enough exercise, yet I don’t give my body and brain enough of what they need most – a break; some trivial fun.

Sometimes life is about ignoring the shopping that needs doing, turning a blind eye to the sunny day outside (even though you feel you ought to take advantage of the good weather), and just sitting inside watching Kung Fu Panda together.

No striving. No achieving. No doing what you feel you ought to be doing. Just being.


14 Comments on “Kicking stress with Kung Fu Panda”

  1. Rojer says:

    How does life pass by so quickly..? One day at a time. I promise you. Enjoy those little moments of simple magic. And make time for them to happen.

  2. Jenni says:

    Another masterpiece Paul. Simple but effective. So true.

  3. Dan Rhodes says:

    Love it Paul! Thanks for the reminder—I have an Airfix model that’s been sitting here unopened for ages because I’m ‘too busy’ to start it! That will soon change.

  4. Great advice but really really hard to stick by.
    I get frustrated that depression has meant that I
    have been stuck living with my parents for the past
    5 years and really finding it hard to put things in place
    to move out and get on with what I do best..

  5. […] 8. Live in the present. Don’t let the past rule your life now, and don’t worry about the future so much that it spoils today. Take some advice from Oogway, the wise tortoise in Kung Fu Panda: […]

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