Falling on Purpose

July 8, 2006  

Last week at the Creative Problem Solving Institute, I met Anthony Hyatt, a violinist and creativity facilitator. He is also an instructor at the Arts for the Aging, Inc. (AFTA) organization where he teaches senior citizens to dance and move. He shared with me an interesting story which helps to illustrate one of the more powerful secrets of Goal-Free Living, “remain detached”… by not trying.

Anthony explained that a major concern for the elderly is falling down, a concern so significant that it can be a life or death issue. According to Anthony, falling down is the leading cause of death in older people. If they should fall and break a bone, they will be hospitalized. There, they often contract a secondary infection or incur other more serious complications. The elderly know this risk and therefore are afraid of falling.

What do they do to address their fear? Anthony shared that they try especially hard not to fall. Ironically, trying not to fall makes them more likely to fall.

Then, by accident, he discovered something very powerful. When he gets people to fall on purpose and roll on the floor, they become more comfortable with the idea of falling. They realize that they could indeed fall without any serious repercussions. When they lost this fear, they stopped trying not to fall. The result? They stopped falling! As counter-intuitive as it sounds, he says it works.

Homer Simpson, that great cartoon character, once said, “The first step to failure is trying.” Although he is known to be a buffoon, maybe this once he was correct. When we try particularly hard to accomplish OR prevent something (like not falling), quite often we create what we don’t want.

P.S. My apologies for all of the double negatives. Although I tried hard not to have any, I couldn’t not use them :-)

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3 Responses to “Falling on Purpose”

  1. David Zinger on July 13th, 2006 10:02 pm

    I appreciated the post on falling. It reminds me of the book by Philip Simmons who wrote a very powerful book before his death on Learning to Fall. You can read an excerpt at: http://www.learningtofall.com/excerpt.htm

  2. Roger C. Parker on July 15th, 2006 5:02 pm

    Inspirational idea in itself, and great support for one of your major ideas.

    BTW, thanks again for a great “expert interview” last week when I interviewed you on the Guerrilla Marketing Association weekly call.

  3. Aimee on August 19th, 2006 10:54 pm

    That’s really cool. What a great idea, I think they should have falling classes for the elderly. ;)