Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year, Old You

It is clear we all need to improve. If you don't believe it just turn on the television or pick up a magazine and you will find lots of advice on what we can do to stick to our New Year's resolutions. If you believe what you read you will discover we are all fat, lazy, and unhealthy adults who don't save enough money or plan for our future.

I'm all for being the best version of yourself you can be and I have committed to a few New Year's resolutions that include health and well being but my biggest resolution is to appreciate myself more. Sounds crazy, I know but I think the most radical thing any of us can do is to simply like and accept ourselves.

I know it's easier said than done. So much of our thinking and self-awareness is based on messages we are bombarded with daily through the media, our friends and our own personal history. If something goes wrong in our lives, the fault must lie within, bad things wouldn't be happening if we weren't lacking in some area. Feeling bereft of some critical quality or talent leaves us wanting and what is better in a consumer society than that?

I think if I asked you right now to name five things you want to change about yourself you could come up with the list pretty quickly, some of us would have to pare down. Now if I asked you to name five things you like, well I'm guessing that would be a little harder. It's bad enough we don't allow ourselves regular access to those things but when we do we feel embarrassed to "brag" about it.

Back when I was studying acting at NYU I did a love scene with an actor in my class. During the class critique the teacher asked my partner if there was anything specific he did to prepare for the scene, he said, "I focused on Teri's lips, she has the best lips I have ever seen." I was confused by this as I never thought my lips were anything to write home about, they are thin (I barely have an upper lip) and not voluptuous at all. I caught up with him at dinner that night and told him I couldn't believe he said that about my lips. I was trying to convince him that what he liked about me was wrong. He smiled and said, "Teri, you don't get to pick what I like about you."

Sometimes I hear a friend lament the length of their eyelashes, their inability to finish a book quickly, their lack of taste in men, their weight, etc. I rarely hear anyone say, "I like how I look in this or I love how I listen to old people." Why don't we do that?

Maybe the best resolution for all of us us to encourage each other to focus on what is good about each of us and instead of spending our time seeking a new and improved self we should take our old self out for a nice lunch and enjoy its' company. After allm like my scene partner taught me, we don't get to pick what people like about us, we only get to do that for ourselves.

Here's to a New Year filled with wondrous discoveries about YOU!

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