Man, you gotta love the American penchant for self improvement!
We all want to be thinner, smarter, richer and most improbably, younger than we were yesterday. Entire industries are built on this culturally ingrained desire: beauty, weight loss and for-profit education to name three.
Are we really this innately and perpetually dissatisfied, or is our penchant for dissatisfaction being exploited shamelessly by anyone looking to make a dime?
And why does it really matter anyway?
If we are adults, can’t we close our ears to the siren song of The Jones’s as they roar down the street in their fancy new “doesn’t look like a Buick”?
Well, not necessarily. Unfortunately, we are a social species and as such, the opinions of other people matter to us a great deal whether we like to admit it or not.
On the other hand, without the deadly threat of societies poor opinion we, (and by we, I mean I) would probably just sit around on the couch watching HGTV and eating vats of guacamole from Costco in my pjs (also from Costco.)
As I was scrolling through the impressive lists of resolutions on Facebook this past new year’s day, I was struck by the fact that although people seemed to have lots of aspirations, hardly anyone was taking the time—that day or ever—to acknowledge the good stuff we do all the time.
We’re very quick, in other words, to zero in on our shortcomings, but reluctant to celebrate the things we do right.
Well, I think that stinks, so I’m compiling a list right here of things most of us do every single day that are pretty great. If you can honestly say that even one thing from this list applies to you, congratulations, you are a worthy and wonderful human being with a big bright heart and that makes you beautiful.
We loved someone.
It’s not an easy thing to allow ourselves to love, from the problematic relationships between parents and children, to the loves we hope to have and loves we’ve lost, those heart brimming, nervous making, tender, anxious, vulnerable feelings mean we care and that we matter. It’s the stuff of life, really, and we contribute to the creation and the perpetuation of it all of our lives, bravely, constantly.
We worried about the state of the world.
We felt the pain of Syrian refugees, we took the time to mourn with those who suffered in terrorist attacks, we thought about who might be our next leader and got our papers and our plastics into the proper recycling bins. Each tiny act of kindness, empathy or sustainability is a slap in the face of indifference, and all those acts added up together are the only real chance we have to save this unlikely planet.
We said please and thank you, and held the door for that really slow old person behind us.
Not only did we worry about the state of the world, we worried about the people right around us; the cashiers, the waitresses, our neighbors, the nice lady at the post office. Even the meanest among us surely has had a kind word for someone, (and if you haven’t, now is a great time to start.)
Kindness begets kindness.
We believed in something called our “soul”—or rather, we believed in magic.
We may not know what the soul exactly is, but we sure do know it’s real. And knowing that, we also know that nothing is ordinary and mysteries will prevail, which makes us—in a sense—unicorns!
We brushed our teeth.
Hey, it’s no small thing to get out of bed, squeeze out a blob of toothpaste on your toothbrush and scrape it across your teeth every single day you are alive. Give yourself some credit.
This is important because it clearly shows we want to learn and grow. And, as Maya Angelou said, when “I know better, I do better.”
We remembered the difference between right and wrong.
This is perhaps the most important thing on this list. Even when we wanted to run that guy who flipped us the bird for no discernible reason off the road, we didn’t, because it’s wrong (and also because he might have a gun.) Forcing ourselves to behave decently is a daily battle, which for the most part we win, and which is the only thing that makes this old world a tolerable place.
This year, let’s take the time, not to beat ourselves up for all we don’t do, should do, can’t do, but to turn our kindness inward and remember that though we are most certainly flawed, we are also vehicles of light.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: nosha at Flickr