I read an article yesterday about researchers trying to determine how you can lead a happier life. Essentially they concluded that if you dwell on the positive things in your life and take pride in your particular strengths, you can be a happier person.
I know most of us are trying to lose weight to become happier or healthier. Companies that sell diet pills are essentially selling you on the idea of a happier life in a bottle. This article might explain why being thin or beautiful doesn’t necessarily make you happier if you can’t appreciate it. For instance, people in the modeling and acting professions constantly have to go to auditions where casting directors tell them what’s wrong with their bodies and their looks. All that negative feedback could make even the prettiest person start dwelling on their insecurities instead of all the good things about themselves. Every woman seems to have some odd complaint about her body, be it a bad complexion or an oddly placed mole or a sixth finger. (What? I’m sure Anne Boleyn must have bitched about her extra finger.) But if that’s all you concentrate on, you miss all the good things about yourself.
At my extended family gathering this weekend, my 10-year-old cousin talked to me for at least five minutes about how terrible his life was. Some of his complaints were valid – having to change schools because of bullying, divorced parents, siblings messing up his room while he got the blame. But the saddest part was hearing this woe-is-me attitude coming from someone so young. I wanted to tell him “Don’t be a victim!” and also “Dude, you’re 10. Life will get better,” but I didn’t really know how to express these ideas to him in a way he’d understand. There are plenty of kids his age in the foster care system who have it much worse, but again I didn’t think saying “Well, at least your parents aren’t heroin addicts who hit you with a Louisville Slugger and lock you in a broom closet” would be an appropriate retort. If I’d read this article sooner, I probably would have asked him to list at least three good things about his life.
A positive attitude helps, no matter what your situation or what your problems are. It won’t necessarily fix your problems, but it makes them more tolerable. I’m sure Anne Boleyn would have been a great piano player! It’s sad to see someone hating on themselves, be they fat or thin. Part of learning to love yourself and accept yourself is learning to see the positive things in your life. Maybe we’d all be happier that way, no matter what our body fat percentage.