Today is a good day. It’s also my birthday, which makes me think of my family. I’ve heard my Dad asking the question, “Do you feel as good as you look?” dozens of times in my life. It’s one of his ways of saying “you look good!” to the family and friends he adores. Going deeper, it’s an interesting question to explore.
Below the surface, answering acknowledges that you must like how you look. And for some, we lack that confidence because our value of ourselves is skewed, our sense of our person altered.
If only my nose was smaller. If I could just get rid of the belly fat. If my thighs didn’t rub together. If my curly hair was just straight. If my boobs were bigger. My feet smaller. My skin clearer. If I were just…taller…thinner…tanner…richer…I would be…what?? Happier? AH! There it is.
Just viewing it typed above, it even looks like a happy word. It seems so friendly. Promising. Down to Earth. (Happy Earth Day on my birthday, by the way!)
So why is it so damn hard for so many of us to be happy? I’m not talking about the happy that comes from buying that coveted pair of sandals or from receiving the praise of others or from any number of external sources. I’m talking about true happiness. The pilot light fueling the core of our beings. The seed from which our authenticity blossoms. The core from which we are able to be whole.
I searched a long time for my happy. And for a long time I did feel as good as I looked, but not how you think. I hated myself. On many levels I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn’t present my true self to others because I didn’t even know who I was. I spent years trying to mold myself into some sort of ideal me because I thought if I were just…
The list was endless.
And even when I achieved one of those “goals”—losing weight, gaining success, etc—the target moved again and I still wasn’t truly happy.
So how do we find it? How did I find it…or rather how am I still finding it? Through three-ish things.
1. Acceptance of my physical self. That was the start. And that acceptance is something I re-avow daily. Sometimes easily; other days with effort. I am really strong. My body is very capable. I am mostly healthy. Does that mean I give myself license to be stagnant? To eat Cheetos? To sit around? No. It means that I now practice viewing my body on the merits of its abilities, not for how it looks.
2. Acceptance of my past. I was a wrecked person for many years. Both psychologically and physically…and both mostly fueled by active addiction. I got clean and sober, but the scars of who I was, what “she” did back in the day, who I hurt, and all of the mess of why I anesthetized myself in the first place remained. I started digging into myself, exploring my path. And with the simplistic, yet hugely-hard-to-digest, truth I came to realize that I am who I am today BECAUSE of each step along the way. Whether a purposeful one or a misstep, each led me to the moment I am in. So unable to go back to alter my course, it’s a basic practice of continuing to accept my ever-lengthening personal history so as not to sacrifice my present and future.
3. Do me. (No, stop. Get your mind out of the gutter! GEESH! Seriously. My Mom reads this blog.) I mean: I’ll take care of me. I’ll do me. You do you. Only I have control over my thoughts, feelings and actions. You don’t get to dig in there and influence that stuff unless I allow you. And I can’t direct or conduct you. So why put my effort behind trying. As soon as I stopped pretending that I could do thing one about how you think or feel and began focusing on me, it all came together. I practice living a life of minimal expectations of others. Of living in the moment. Of being productive. Of directing my focus to myself…
3.1 …and practicing acceptance of you for who you are. I am no one to stand in judgment of you, so my choices are to love you warts and all, to enjoy parts of you and let the rest roll off my shoulders, or to smile at you, wish you well, get off your playing field and just cheer you on from the sidelines of your life.
By now I’m sure you have to be recognizing the theme…acceptance and practice. Ding. Ding. Ding. Small tools, yet huge Earth movers when you apply them.
But it’s not a one-and-done deal. Acceptance is a daily practice. Like yoga. Only more vital, like breathing. And with the promise that when it starts within, breeds within, emanates from within and circles back to feed us within, we become the start and end to our own happiness.
Happy Earth Day (and Happy Birthday to me)! Find the joy.
Want help finding your true happiness and learning to embrace and express your authentic self? I’m here to help.