Our modern culture is riddled with backwards and harmful ways of thinking. We prioritize appearance above health. We value hard work over relaxation. We hold ourselves to impossible standards and the result is a society suffering with anxiety and depression.
It’s time to change these ways of thinking!
First of all, as a society, we spend way too much time worrying about the way we look. How much time do you spend grooming yourself, applying make-up, shaving, picking out the perfect outfit, or putting on jewelry? (by the way, does it seem like most of these activities are female-centered? is this implying that there is an uneven pressure for females to change their appearance?…) All of these activities are unnecessary in the grand scheme of life. And they are energy-draining activities. The more time we spend trying to change our appearance, the more we develop self-criticizing thought patterns. We will never be able to fulfill our dreams if our mind is filled with criticism.
For 5 years, I was o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with my image. This fact is probably not surprising, because as a young woman in America, this obsession is normal. This needs to change! For men and women, young and old, it is normal to obsess over your calories, to follow a rigid exercise regime, to spend all of your earnings on clothes that make you look more attractive. I did all of these things until I found myself struggling with malnutrition, a fatigued body, an empty wallet, and no energy left to experience the wonderful things that life has to offer. I became fed-up with this way of living. I threw out my mirror and scale. I gave away my tight clothes. I stopped wearing make-up and started wearing clothes that made me feel good (not necessarily clothes that made me look good). I stopped my rigid exercise regime and instead moved my body in healthy, wholesome ways. I ate foods that tasted good and gave me energy, no matter what the calories. My body started changing from the inside out, and today, I feel beautiful – truly beautiful, from the inside out.
We need to practice self-love, not self-criticism! So please, stop wasting time trying to change your appearance. Instead, go and live your life to its fullest, and keep reminding yourself that:
You are beautiful right now, in your natural form
Second, our society values people that overwork. Companies pay people for working beyond their assigned hours, sacrificing time with families and time for self-development. We are rewarded for devoting every waking moment to any obscure purpose (an assignment, a company, a mission, you name it). The body, mind and spirit do not flourish in this sort of environment. Each and every one of us needs time for self-care, self-love, and socialization! (even the president needs this, so please stop criticizing her or him for playing golf once a month) Your body needs love and rest. Your mind benefits from silence and “nothingness”. Your spirit flourishes when you make time for Life: being with family, experiencing nature, creating art. Some people believe that these acts are indulgences that can be earned after putting in hours of hard work. But these acts are the reasons that we live! We weren’t put on this beautiful earth to sit at a desk from 9 – 5. We were here for something greater – but this statement must be experienced by the individual in order to be accepted as Truth.
Personally, I was 40 years old by the time I was 4 (at least, that’s what my mom always told me). I took life way too seriously. If I had a spare moment, I would fill it with an activity that would prepare me for the next stage of my life. In high school, this meant signing up for (and eventually leading) every club that my school offered so that I could go to a good college. The result was that I got into my dream school, but missed out on the personal growth and self discovery that naturally happens as a teenager. In college, my perfectionism took over in the form of picking the hardest major, completing impossible workouts, and studying until the moment my head hit the pillow. I was obsessed with maximizing my time. At one point, I would play recordings of Russian (my minor in college) while I slept so that I was utilizing all 24 hours of the day. In the meantime, I made no efforts to develop relationships because I felt that socializing was unnecessary for my personal development. The only time I experienced nature was when I was completing one of my insane workouts. I was so disjointed from my family that I was the last to hear when my mom was diagnosed with cancer – and I was on the opposite side of the world when the news came (studying Russian, not on vacation). I think we can all agree that the way I chose to live (which I believed was normal), was actually crazy and exactly the opposite way to grow the mind, body and spirit… After college, life started to slow down. This brought a lot of anxiety for me because I never learned how to relax – this anxiety brought me to yoga. After years of yoga practice, I was finally able to accept that life has natural cycles of movement and rest. I learned that rest balances movement so that we are able to thrive on this incredible planet!
So please take some time to slow down and self reflect. Maybe you can even take some time off of work (did someone say vacation?…) Whatever you choose to do, please tell yourself that:
You are perfect right now, and you have done enough
Inside each of us is a bright, shining light. No matter how we look and no matter how hard we work, our inner light will still radiate! Once we accept this, life becomes so much easier. There is no longer the heavy burden of accomplishing impossible standards. Instead, we become free to listen to our heart, follow our dharma (our life’s purpose), and truly make the world a better place!