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Balance Intensity with Levity: Polar Plunging and the Wisdom of Einstein

On New Years Day across the world thousands of brave, hearty, crazy, normal, young, middle-aged, and elderly souls jumped into an icy-cold body of water near their home.  I had the pleasure of witnessing this at my health club yesterday, January 1, 2003 , as folks had a good time, thumbing their nose at common sense and taking a dip in the 50-degree outdoor pool.

This made me think of how important it is to balance our intensity as physicians---whether as managers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, parents or spouses---with some levity.  Our intensity is often a sign of overworked intellect and rationality. Our folly is that we believe that the analytical mind rules and is responsible for our ultimate well-being and fulfillment. 

The real truth, however, is that our emotional, intuitive, and spiritual self is the ultimate driver and arbiter of sound choices, clear direction and a fully-experienced life.  In the thick of things, though, we rely too much on the analytical mind and subsequently tend to “think too much,” “strive too hard,” and “over analyze.”   Fact is, we could use a Polar Plunge more than once a year!

The Wisdom of Einstein:  11 Quotes to Lift Your Spirits

The annual Polar Plunge is a physically abrupt but effective way to shake ourselves out of our mental groove ---if only temporarily.

Here is a suggestion for how to expand your intuitive perspective more frequently---and with your clothes dry:  Read these 11 quotes from Albert Einstein once a week to lift your spirits and set your intuitive self free to explore the universe. 

  1. 1.       "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

  2. 2.       "If one studies too zealously, one easily loses his pants."

  3. 3.       “If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.”

  4. 4.       "Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish."

  5. 5.       “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

  6. 6.       “If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith."

  7. 7.       "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

  8. 8.       “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

  9. 9.       "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

  10. 10.   "I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."

  11. 11.   “If A equals success, then the formula is _ A = _ X + _ Y + _ Z. _ X is work. _ Y is play. _ Z is keep your mouth shut.”

If you were one of the few who participated in a Polar Plunge, I acknowledge your willingness to break free of convention and practicality.  For those of you who didn’t, perhaps there is another way for you to take a mental break from the grind, the intensity and the practical.  To borrow from Einstein, personal and professional success does not hinge on your knowledge, but rather, on your imagination.

Francine R. Gaillour, MD
Strategic Advisor and Executive Coach for Healthcare Industry Leaders
(206) 686-4205  
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
15600 NE 8th Street, Suite B1-173
Bellevue, WA  98008
(206) 686-4205

Francine R. Gaillour, MD   ©2006 Ki Health, Inc.