Your body is the only permanence you will ever have.
Human beings often tend to hold on to stuff. People, trinkets, memories, all of these pieces of the past are what hold us together now. Who are you naked and alone, in an unknown land? We all have parts of life that we would love to relive again, as well as moments we make sure never resurface from our subconscious (or unconscious if you follow Jung, the point is that which is not waking consciousness). We know that life is finite, and for some reason, at least here in the Western half of the world, the cultural norm is fearing death. Funerals are more often than not, sad. I have noticed that a good 95% of the people around me deal with pain in ways that potentially (and definitely) bring them closer to that final day. I’ve done the same. Why do we treat our bodies, and each other so poorly, when our time is so short?
I have not treated my body very well for a majority of my existence. Even though that has been just a bit over twenty years, only in the past two years have I made significant changes to my life, both inside and out. I have realized that while there is almost nothing I can do about the rest of the world by thinking, talking, and worrying about it, I can influence it by changing myself. Our bodies are the only part of life that stays with us the entire time. Parents, children, spouses, our homes, and even our memories can leave us. While we can do many things to make sure our memories stay with us, trying to keep other people or material things in our life forcefully only creates anxiety, and brings that moment that they are gone, closer.
This vehicle we call our body is significant and taking care of it is a lot harder/easier than it was a hundred years ago. Longevity has increased, but so has the amount of crap we can put into our bodies. We have advanced our healing abilities to cure ailments and treat complications that can now extend our lives ten to twenty years. With all of this magnificent change in our capacity to help others, there has been much controversy, between what benefits, and what doesn’t. Without going too deep into that, the question I have is, what are we grateful for? Which parts of life do you love, and what do you despise? Or should gratitude extend to all people, regardless of what their views on the world are?
What are the elements of yourself that make you the proudest? The most shameful?
I have learned a lot of things the hard way. Unnecessarily making lessons more difficult, by not listening to those around me, or myself for that matter. Some of these paths were taxing on my body, as well as my mind. I complained a lot about how I looked, how people treated me, and about life in general. I was not a happy child. I knew deep inside that happiness came from myself, but I never listened to that voice from my heart, nor from my mother. My ego drove me down the path the rest of the world set out for me. Although I prayed for a few years consistently before I turned 12, being grateful was not in these words; I just asked for things to change. I was always sure to say please and thank you at dinner, or school, and I have for the most part been very respectful and polite. But never have I shown the gratitude for living that I do now.
Prayer has been something that always stumped me, and with that, religion. In fact, it still does. I have since gotten away from the monotheistic view of Christianity, but I agree with the golden rule, of treating others how I would like to be treated. The issue this raises though, is that not everyone wants to be treated how I would. Even if I am doing something universally kind, some people just aren’t happy about it, let alone thankful. So, this philosophy has not been enough. Although there are many religions and philosophies to follow, they all share similar principles. However, I have found that the less practical the dogma is, the less grateful I am for all of life. I have seen many people, myself included, who would pick and choose who we treat nicely, who we and what we are thankful for. I am not saying that all Christians or other religious people are all like this. This is merely my perspective. Unfortunately, I have seen this a lot.
Of course, none of us are perfect. If I could write an article about all of my disrespectful, unkind, shameful moments, it would probably be a few thousand words. I have done my fair share of condescending, belittling, and taunting. I find myself still to this day, letting my anger take the wheel, and say things that shouldn’t be said. With that said, my self-control, as well as assertiveness in a constructive manner has significantly improved. The most prominent contributor to this has come from writing down, as well as saying aloud how grateful I am for everything. Every night when I journal, I write down at least three things I am thankful for, whether it be people, opportunities, or the fact of being alive.
Accept your reality, learn what you have to share, and serve the world.
Life is hard, a lot. Some days, it seems unbearable. Guess what? It gets better. You’ve probably heard this a lot, and some of you might be waiting for it to happen. Trust me, trust in yourself. Life gets better. But there is a catch. You have to want it to get better. From someone who has just stumbled upon my writing, this might sound like a sarcastic, response. For those of you who have been reading, you know that with wanting something, comes doing. If you want something, do something about it. If you want your life to get better, eliminate the shit that makes it harder, and add more positives. Of course, this is not advice that I would ever offer as a practical solution, but from the macro perspective, that’s the plan.
I have had a tremendous issue living in denial of how the world works. Not only that, but I have been in denial about the fact that I cannot change other people. Fortunately, this seems to be a prevailing thought in young minds, thinking we can change the world. Where most of us go wrong, is trying to make a difference by getting others to change. Not going to work, I’ve tried that route a lot. Don’t believe me, keep trying to get others to change. Some might, but those will be the people who break for the next person that tells them what to do. We have to change ourselves; I have to change myself if I wish for parts of society to not only see my perspective but also learn and grow from my mistakes.
When we can accept that life is the way it is, that people are the way they are, we lose a lot of discomforts. From here, I focus on where my issues are, and how I can be a better person than I was yesterday. I focus on staying calm and rational in times of stress, of listening more instead of always throwing in my two cents (I save that for this blog:). I focus on how I can learn from my choices and the consequences of them and thus bring lessons and value to the rest of the world. When I rely on myself emotionally, the chance of others letting me down drops to zero. This ownership of my actions, of my feelings, creates inner strength, trust, and an enormous sense of gratitude. I am immensely thankful to be alive; I am surrounded by people that love and support me. I am grateful to have a healthy mind and body, to be able to make choices, and write these words. I am thankful for you, that you are alive, and can make a difference in the world.
I hope you can take something from this, that life is precious. Gratitude is the bottom line because, at the end of the day, I’d like to believe that being thankful for existing is what will bring us all closer together.
I would love to hear what you are thankful for, and how appreciating that has benefited not only yourself but those around you as well. Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts.