I was sitting on my balcony, enjoying the warm air and how the twilight deepens the colours and ushers in a peace that used to precede sleep in those days before lighting, when a clutch of little girls walked by. One of the girls said, “My mother won’t let me sit in front of the television for very long, no screen, she’ll say after about an hour.
“I’m a televisonaholic and a chocoholic,….” and then they were out of the range of where I could hear them.
Pity that. We’ve taken our preoccupation with trying to perfect ourselves so far that our children have picked up the lingo. The translation, for any of you that don’t know already is, “If I do anything at all that I enjoy, it is bad for me.” This has become couched in the language of addiction, because if we do it and we know that it is bad for us, it must be an addiction.
We have turned into a society of self-restriction and guilt. We have bought into all of the external messages about how we should look, how we should feel, how much we should eat, exercise and sleep and even how long we should brush our teeth, for heavens sake. This generation of North Americans is the unhealthiest and the unhappiest, regardless of whom you measure us against.
Part of the problem is that we look outside of ourselves for answers when they are, in fact, within us. We believe that our big brains know it all and that they can keep us health and happy and from growing old; possibly–even from dying. If we just follow all of the rules about how we should act, no harm will come to us. This is wrong. Eat well, exercise, restrict your alcohol intake and die anyhow.
It would be revolutionary to actually learn to listen to ourselves. Our bodies communicate a wealth of knowledge to us every moment, but we have learned to ignore it. If something tastes good it must be bad for us. If we sleep too much we are either depressed, and in need of medication; or we are lazy. Couldn’t it be that we simply need more rest?
The pity here is that in pursuit of a media generated standard, we are trying to follow all of these external rules. We spend an inordinate amount of our time trying to avoid death to the point that we are missing our lives. How many people do you know that have been so preoccupied with restricting themselves that they have not enjoyed themselves at a party or social gathering; people that constantly can’t or won’t do something they enjoy because they feel so much guilt about it? So often, we define ourselves by what we will not do rather than what we will do.
There is more to life than avoiding death.
What would happen if all of our preoccupation with diet, exercise, self-improvement, self grooming (well, we would need some self grooming!) went into things we were passionate about? What if we took the intelligence and drive that we use to punish ourselves and put it out into the world? Redirecting that amount of energy and passion could create quite a shift! How would your life change if you accepted your desires as an affirmation that you are alive and enjoying yourself instead of something to feel guilty about? What would your life look like if you stopped worrying about how many rules you were breaking and started to think about things that you would like to accomplish?
What if the little girl from above wasn’t caught up in the guilt of how her appetites were out of control? What if she was dreaming about something wonderful, and discussing that with her friends? How differently would she feel in the world if she could just love chocolate and enjoy watching television?
When people are asked what they are passionate about, many cannot answer. Their wants may or may not be something that they are aware of, but they know that they are not OK. Why? What is the point of living if you cannot enjoy yourself? I cannot believe that with all of the possible answers to the question, “Why are we here?” the right answer becomes, “To suffer and restrict ourselves as much as possible.” There is simply too much evidence of the opposite. Enjoy something you love today, without the guilt…..