Our Magnificent Bodies

We know confidence is attractive to our spouse, our significant other, or, if we are single, to potential dating partners.  In The Joy Factor, Susan Smith Jones writes, “Living our best life means appreciating our magnificent bodies.”

Unfortunately for me and countless other men and woman this can be a daunting task.  We think of our physical bodies and too often instantly become experts in identifying our limitations.  We put ourselves through the wringer of self-critique and feel the exact opposite of attractive.

In Notes on the Need for Beauty, J. Ruth Gendler writes “Beauty [or handsomeness] becomes a forbidden quality because most of us feel it can’t belong to us…. often we are blocked from experiencing [our] beauty by feelings of shame and ugliness.”

Our minds interpret the bodies we see in the mirror.  This means we all could have the absolutely gorgeous bodies, but if our minds don’t allow us to be beautiful or handsome, we will never experience ourselves as beautiful or handsome.  Mirrors may not lie, but our minds definitely create interpretations of what we see in the mirror.

For years I looked in the mirror and interpreted what I saw as disability.  Just like I have a nose and ten fingers, it’s true that I’m less coordinated than many people and that my voice is at times harder to understand than the voices of most people.

But the concept that I was disabled and therefore less lovable had nothing to do with the reflection I was seeing in the mirror.  My “disability” had everything to do with a painful story I was making up in my head.  When I said I was disabled, I was authentically expressing a story in my head, but definitely not authentically “appreciating my magnificent body.”

The same can be said about ideal body weight.  There’s a multitude of websites having to do with ideal body weight.  We may be over or under the weight we are quoted on these sites.  This figure simply reflects how our body weight fits into the tables on the websites.  However, we sometimes use this figure to say we do not have magnificent bodies.  This assessment is a painful story created in our heads.

When I heard, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I always interpreted this phrase as meaning I should look for a woman who would find me stunningly handsome and sexy.  So for most of my life I have been on an epic search for this woman.

What I overlooked is that I’m the initial beholder of my own beauty.  It is highly helpful to be able to recognize my own beauty first, so I can pass this recognition on to others through my ease and confidence.

How do we become powerful first beholders of our own beauty?  Maybe a place to begin is by consciously using exciting, invigorating and refreshing language to think and talk about our bodies. Whenever that old, familiar refrain of body image doubt enters your mind, say to yourself and to others, “I’m magnificent,” or “I’m amazingly beautiful” or “I’m incredibly handsome” or go for the gold and declare, “I’m Hot AND Sexy.”

This way of thinking and speaking may well feel uncomfortable and even embarrassing at first.  We have often been used to authentically expressing the painful stories about our bodies that we created in our heads.

For a change, why not try speaking in a way that you authentically appreciate your magnificent body.

You and I are our own first beholders.  We have the power to celebrate, honor and rejoice in the bodies we see in the mirror.

 Game of the Day

Whenever that old, familiar refrain of body image doubt enters your mind, say to yourself and to others, “I’m magnificent,” or “I’m amazingly beautiful” or “I’m incredibly handsome” or go for the gold and declare, “I’m Hot AND Sexy.”

Developing A Keen Grasp Of The Obvious

Yesterday in this blog, I wrote about how transformative appreciation can be.  Right now, little more than twenty-four hours later, I’m faced with a dilemma in which I want to be frustrated and ungrateful instead of appreciative.

This is a bit of a bizarre story.  You see, I was eating lunch at my computer and a bit of bean fell in between the keys on my keyboard and got stuck.  The thought of a sliver of green bean rotting in my keyboard grossed me out; so on impulse, I took a butter knife, wedged it under the key and flipped the ALT key off my keyboard, so I could liberate the bit of bean.  But now I can’t get the ALT key to reattach to my keyboard.

I’m inclined to focus exclusively on the missing ALT instead of being grateful that I still have all the keys of the alphabet and numbers zero thru nine on my keyboard.

This is so life isn’t it?  Sometimes it is easy to focus on the metaphorical missing ALT key rather than to appreciate the abundance of what works in our lives.

Back in high school, my friend Chris Moneke came up with the phrase, “A keen grasp of the obvious” to describe common sense.  Having a “keen grasp of the obvious” sounds so easy, but I have found the obvious goodness of life is amazingly hard to see when we are focused on problems.  Find a missing ALT key to worry about, and the rest of our keyboard that is in fine working order can seem to disappear.

I find that we not only have the opportunity to continually ask ourselves questions that call for a response of appreciation, but also to take the time to practice noticing and appreciating the whole keyboard of our lives.  A missing ALT key is only a huge deal if it is all we see.  While it is natural to feel and even mourn the loss of our missing ALT keys, we can, at the same time, teach ourselves to develop a keen grasp of the obvious beauty and wonder around us.

Game of the Day

Take fifteen or twenty minutes to engage in an activity that opens you up to appreciating beauty in the world.  For example, walking slowly around your neighborhood and really noticing the architecture, plants and trees is a wonderful way to become more appreciative of the place you live and life in general.