People should be content to some degree, yet it is discontent that often motivates us to do good things. It may be things other people notice, but the real importance of it is whether or not it is good for us and in our perspective. Most people would agree that it is good when discontent with feeling dirty motivates bathing. Or when discontent with being lonely leads us to be friendly. A discontent with regular lethargy may motivate to better eating. Similarly, being discontent with how we look could reasonably motivate us to exercise.
It has been popular to talk about loving our own body, which seems like a headline way to say to “be content with our own body.” There have been complaints of pressure from media to look a certain way. The thing is, media is basically making money appealing to the general cultural perception of beauty. Everyone knows the models are touched up 2 dimensional images captured in a moment of time. They are paid to look a certain way and then they are photoshopped. If we are feeling pressured by these images, we are allowing them too much power over us.
On the other hand, there is nothing inherently wrong with being discontent with how we look as long as we keep it in perspective. We may need to come to terms with features and shapes that are unchangeable. It is a waste of energy, and probably demotivating, to be mad or depressed about how tall we are or how large our feet are. It is also possible that we need to be patient with life stages, like pregnancy or recovering from an injury. For any of these things, it is best to reach a synthesis of working with them and working around them.
However, there are bodily characteristics that are under our control. We can cut our hair to a pleasing style, manage our weight to a range that is desirable, and brush our teeth. It is up to us to decide just how much effort we want to put into any of these things. The trick then is to be content with the choices we have made.
Sometimes, we don’t follow through with our stated choices and priorities the way we would ideally like to. If that is happening very much, we should be honest with ourselves about evaluating them. Are those priorities realistic with our current situation in life? Have we tried to claim priorities we don’t really have? Do we need to figure out a different approach to attain results? Those are a few questions I can think of to help problem solve. Possibly you can come up with more.
Any change or progress takes effort. It is a fact of life. But often we complicate the effort by adding unnecessary baggage to it. If we want to loose weight, we don’t need to also enter a beauty contest to validate it. If we want to lift weights, we don’t need to enter competitions. While it is true that a bit of competition and/or social involvement with people doing similar things may be a source of learning and fun, it doesn’t need to take over your whole life. In fact, if you associate good changes with an all-consuming schedule of events, you might be more inclined to drop those good changes. And that wouldn’t be good!
Another aspect of being content with our own bodies is admitting that we live in an imperfect world. In a world where time ravages our hair in a moment and our skin turgor over decades, we must learn to see the beauty of our living bodies in the midst of these imperfections. We can give beauty to our less than perfect bodies by just engaging in life.
Part of the problem can be pride. Truth be told, we don’t need to look at our own bodies as much as other people do. It is often concern with how we look to others that drags us down. We compare all the things we think we lack with all the things we think others have. Might it not be better to concentrate on pleasing those in our lives who love us and have to look at us the most? Then, we can find a balance between what is already appreciated, what can be adjusted, and what no one who is important really cares about.
Personally, I don’t like to think in terms of loving my own body. I don’t want to put that much emotion into how I feel about my temporary physical module, so-to-speak. I find it more helpful to think about being content with what I cannot change and being realistically creative about what I can change.