Feb 3rd marks the start of the Chinese New Year. Author and feminist.com founder, Marianne Schnall, thinks it might be an opportunity to reset that resolution to something more productive.
51% Show # 1125
By now, for many of our New Year’s Resolutions have come and gone. We start the new year with all sorts of good intentions, and then realize how hard they are to actually keep! Maybe it’s because our new year’s resolutions, as well intentioned as they are, often have an ingredient of superficiality and self-loathing lurking at its root. I talked to a sales manager at a major bookstore chain a few weeks ago, and she was telling me how the only type of books that they display during their “New Year, New You” campaign are exclusively around diet and exercise. So in other words, about how we look. Not to say that this isn’t a worthwhile goal, it’s good to exercise and it’s healthier to lose the excess weight. But usually the end goal in weight loss and fitness campaigns are toned abs and a supermodel physique, both unrealistic (and pretty meaningless) pursuits. Toned abs generally don’t bring inner happiness and fulfillment!
So I propose a different kind of resolution and revolution this year, this time, an internal one. One in which rather than obsessing on all we think needs “fixing”, we make it our goal instead to celebrate those things we like about ourselves, and accept ourselves for who we are. And if we are not quite sure who that is, we take time to figure it out. Women have had so many messages hurled at us, urging us to be someone other than who we are. It would be a worthwhile goal to do some internal probing and reflection. To take the time to check in with ourselves and see how our inner world is doing. That is where genuine beauty comes from, from happiness and from sitting comfortably and confidently in our authentic selves and living our lives from that place. Not beating ourselves up all the time about all the things we think are wrong with us or would help us better fit in with the pack, but instead celebrating all of our uniqueness, the individual qualities that make us who we really are and what we personally have to bring to the world.
I’ve had the good fortune to interview some amazing women during my years as a journalist. And they’ve had some inspiring this to say on this subject: When I asked Gloria Steinem what message she would most want to instill in young girls she answered, “That each of them is a unique and valuable person when she’s born, every human being is.” And actress Jane Fonda told me ,“We need to really internalize the message that good enough is good enough. We don't need to be perfect. We're not supposed to be perfect; we're supposed to be complete. And you can't be complete if you're trying to be perfect.” That is certainly another worthwhile goal for 2011 – throw out the need to be “perfect”! And lastly, this from author and activist Alice Walker: “Express yourself as freely as a pear tree or apple tree expresses itself. Just be what it is that you are, and that is just fine. You don’t have to be what you’re not in any way. Live that and live that fully, and that is where you discover ecstasy. You can’t really have ecstasy as something other than yourself.”
I wish everyone a happy and joyous 2011, one in which we spend the year finding ways to celebrate and better accept ourselves. We can and should still set all sorts of meaningful goals for ourselves, as long as we are sure that these are our goals, not ones imposed on us by others or society, and will help us to achieve happiness, inner fulfillment and contribute our unique special gifts into the world. Not only will we be happier individually, but the world will be a better place too.
This commentary originally aired on 51% Show # 1125
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