7 Breaths

7 Breaths

In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. If discrimination is long, it will spoil. When matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will turn out badly. A warrior is a person who does things quickly.

When your mind is going hither and thither, discrimination will never be brought to a conclusion. With an intense, fresh and undelaying spirit, one will make his judgments within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side.


When I read a great book or see a great movie, I can envision the characters afterwards. They could extend that book another 15 pages, putting the main character in a totally different surroundings, and I feel like I’d be able to tell you exactly how that character would react…exactly what that character would say. And there is something cool about that. Powerful even. That I could know someone so well just by watching them for 2 hours in a theater or after 300 pages of a book.

The question becomes…after living with myself in my forever, do I know myself that same way?

The above passage isn’t instructing you to make rash decisions. It’s about knowing yourself well enough to come to conclusions quickly. It’s about having the gumption to make those decisions.

When it comes to big decisions, I sometimes labor over them for a while. Going back and forth, trying to think about what is best for me. And oddly, the decision I end up making was probably one that could have been predicted easily by people that know me well. Which leads to the question…why are we able to predict others’ behavior so much easier than we can predict our own? It should not be that way.

How well do you know yourself? Do you know what you want out of life? Do you  know what you want from today? How well do you know your moral boundaries or ethical limits? Your views on childcare? Your views on politics? Your strengths? Your flaws? Do you take those into account when making decisions?

Some companies perform evaluations where they ask you a series of questions about yourself. Then they ask that same series of questions about you to peers, subordinates, and bosses. Then they compare all those answers to yours and give you back the results. The goal? To get people to see themselves for who they really are rather than for what they think they really are. This is an eye opener for most people. And this leads to behavioral change.

I wish they gave those tests out in regular life. A lot of us know the kind of person we want to be. A lot of us think we know who we are. Or think we’re being those people…and we aren’t.

Everyone needs to know themselves.

If you know yourself, you will either be comfortable with who you are or you will understand that you need to change. That need to grow. Your decisions on anything, in the span of 7 breaths then, should be easy. You know who you want to be. You should consider the consequences of this decision in those breaths, and match them up with where you are going. Do they fit?

In 7 breaths. Simply, confidently, make your decision.