It may seem a little incongruous to post a column with such a trivial-appearing title at this exact point in time, but the truth is I completed these thoughts just as news of the coronavirus was breaking. For a little while, I put off posting this, but then I decided that sharing it was actually a perfect thing to do. We need to remember that, while it is important to keep things in proper context, it is also important to honor our ordinary, day-to-day needs and concerns. So with that in mind, onward to this month’s installment.
One Weird Trick to Having the Perfect Body
If this month’s title caught your eye, I admit it was a deliberate ploy for your attention. It is similar to dozens of advertisements (usually adding things like “What Doctors don’t want you to know!” or “Prepare to be shocked” or “Do this every day!”) that I’ve been seeing all over social media in the past couple of years. These ads typically prompt the reader to click on links promising to reveal a secret shortcut to perfection, calculated to play on our anxieties. Many–if not most–of these links lead to interminably long videos that pitch expensive products of one sort or other, such as nutritional supplements or herbal remedies. These ploys must work; at the end of the day, they’re still running these ads!
I mean, who wouldn’t dearly love for there to be a prompt, simple solution to fix and cure each of our core issues? After all, it does seem that we are living in a culture of instant fixes and fulfillment. Need a ride? Click on an app. Want a snack? Click on another app. Want a yellow pillow for your couch? Amazon will have it there by tomorrow. With immediate gratification so near at hand, of course we wish for instant and effortless shortcuts to solve those personal failings that run so deep, we are uncomfortable discussing them with other people.
Of course, there is no single weird trick to having the so-called perfect body…
Unless… well, wait a minute….
Actually, I can think of one thing… it may be a little tricky… and some people might find it a little weird… but it’s worth a shot!
It’s called letting go and embracing.
Letting go of black – and – white, absolutist thinking, and then giving yourself a break. It’s acknowledging that most–if not all–people cannot eat or exercise or get enough sleep or drink enough water perfectly all the time. It’s all about letting go of the judgments that diet culture inflicts upon us, as well as questioning the attitudes put forth by our society’s arbitrary beauty standards. It’s about letting go of the unreasonable pressure that puts trying to be perfect ahead of simply doing your best. It’s also about doing your best and then letting go of the guilt and self-recriminations when you miss the mark; acknowledging the personal win when a goal is achieved, however imperfectly. It’s about letting go of missteps and then turning around and doing your best at the next opportunity.
Embracing is all about accepting the fact that there is something perfect about you and your body right now. Your body is a physical wonder of nature that can embrace loving family and friends. Your body can savor pleasure through its senses; touching, being touched, tasting flavors, smelling fragrances, seeing beauty and hearing music. The very sight of your body — your body’s smiling lips, your body’s hugging arms, your body’s empathic eyes — can bring joy to your loved ones. Your body can heal. Your body can carry you into tomorrow a little stronger, wiser, and more soulful than today. Embracing is all about connecting with your sense of gratitude for what you do have.
So then… if you can embrace your body in all of its flawed perfection… if you can let go of your self-inflicted judgements… if you can swap out feelings of inadequacy in favor of mindfulness and gratitude… then you have the perfect body right now!
Pretty weird trick after all, huh?