Brightly dressed children shouting and laughing flood the streets. Live music plays underneath the crowd’s cheers. Balls and batons are flying through the air. As the sun sets, some brave children begin tossing flaming sticks as well. It sounds like chaos, but each object is snagged out of the air with precision as the parade marches forward.
A few years ago, NPR published a story on Afghanistan’s eighth annual national juggling competition, focusing on the Mobile Mini Circus in which young boys and girls alike can show off their technique.
As an inspirational speaker, juggler, and avid flame eater, these types of stories always interest me, particularly when the reason behind the competition runs so much deeper than hand-eye coordination. In fact, the purpose of the competition, as explained in the article, is to teach the children self-confidence.
What I see in these kids is that they’ve given themselves 5,000 tries. They aren’t afraid to fail successfully. When you’re willing to fail and you’re willing to keep trying until you succeed, you can’t help but become more self confident.
American professionals are required to manage high levels of ongoing stress, which contributes to many health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. So here are my five reasons why you should set down your cell phone and pick up some juggling balls:
1) Juggling is an impressive skill. Don’t know or remember how to juggle? Don’t worry! It’s so easy, anyone can learn, I’ll teach you.
2) Standing and moving your arms for five minutes raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping, which has an immediate calming and stress-lowering effect.
3) If you’re truly focused on keeping the balls in the air, you won’t be focused on whatever is stressing you out.
4) Juggling allows you to practice failing successfully. If you fail enough in the small things, you won’t be as afraid of failure in the big things.
5) As you improve, you will become more confident in your ability to adapt to new and challenging situations. Think you’ve got it down? Try new patterns.
Now let me know how juggling has changed your life!