After my recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, I have really understood the importance of appreciation. Their cultures, based on Hindu and Buddhist lifestyles, promote gratitude for everything they have. Their wealth is little compared to our Western societies, however their energies, their love for life and for others is great. They are content with their lot, and thankful for their shelter, food and health.
In our culture, sadly the opposite can be seen. We are never happy with our lot, never content with our lives. We constantly strive for more: more clothes, more money, a better body, better looks. We are surrounded by our First World problems that allow little space for appreciating how much we actually have. Rather than being ever so grateful for having a good roof over our heads, running and drinkable water and clean clothes, we choose to focus on what we don't own, what we don't have and what we are not.
Take our own bodies for example. Now, our bodies are amazing. They are fantastic pieces of machinery, that can adapt to any stimulus or stress, can cope with any demand. They allow us to perform all of our day to day activities as well as to run, jump, crawl, climb and swim. They are able to heal themselves, to repair, and to keep us alive without us having to give it any thought at all. And yet we fail to appreciate them. We judge them for not being our ideal shape, we blame them for causing us pain, and we blame them for our own hurts. And so we abuse them constantly: we feed them the wrong foods, we allow them to become unhealthy - sometimes we even treat our houses or cars better than our own bodies.
I see this in the gym everyday: many focus on what they don't look like, rather than being thankful for having a healthy and functional body. Many bring themselves down for not looking a certain way rather than being grateful for their bodies. And so they constantly strive to reach the point of "enough": when they will be thin enough, ripped enough, sexy enough. However, what most people fail to realise is that "enough" cannot be measured. It is not a number, not a date, not a body shape. It is a feeling. A feeling that can only be found through an acceptance, an appreciation and a gratitude for our current situation. It is the release of negative judgement of ourselves, of our expectations, of how we "should" be or look like.
Take a moment right now to reflect on 2012 and to feel grateful. Appreciate everything that has occurred over the year, for your experiences, your learnings, for your achievements and for your mistakes. Say thanks for your current situation, your current income and your current body shape and size. Be grateful for all the non-material things in your life that make you richer than you think you are: your love, your family, your friends, your wonderful mind and your amazing body. Practice gratefulness and appreciation everyday towards everything and everyone that comes into your life: you will enter a realm of happiness and contentment you never thought possible. And what's more, you will attract even more of the good stuff!
We caught of a glimpse of gratefulness in August this year, when the Olympics came to town. We all felt the love, pride and appreciation to be living in such an amazing city and country (remember?), which drowned out our usual moans and complaining. And the Paralympics went even further, reminding us of what amazing bodies we have and helping us feeling such appreciation for having functional, healthy and able physiques. It is possible to re-create the same feelings we felt throughout those magical days over the summer: simply open your eyes to every gift you have been given, every lesson learnt, and to all that you already have. We all have so much that we are blind to.
Love & Health