Celebrate World Kindness Day and a Month of Gratitude, Starting with You
Yesterday, November 13, was World Kindness Day. This month memes abound about gratitude. Kindness and gratitude are two things we can never over-indulge in.
That said, I know so many people who forget to be kind to themselves, to be grateful for the bodies they have. In a world that pushes unrealistic body image ideals in every media, every form, it’s really hard to build a better body self-esteem. Advertisements, movies, TV shows, billboards, pharmaceuticals … all form part of a billion-dollar industry that promotes body anxiety and hate. We are taught to feel shame. And both men and women buy into it.
And with the holidays coming up, there’s no end to articles and headlines about how to keep holiday weight off, avoid extra calories, and guilt, guilt, guilt. That last one is particularly effective.
So, here’s what I propose this holiday season for you. Indulge! Indulge in family, tradition, flavors, and friends. Celebrate your body and the beautiful things it can do: hold a hand, go for a walk, dance, hug someone you love.
Here are 5 tips to start to celebrate you, your body, your beautiful self.
- Write it down. This change from “feeling frumpy” to “feeling like a Goddess (or God)” usually won’t happen overnight. So, take the time to write down five things you are thankful for about your body: your smile, how fast your hands can type … anything. Gratitude breeds gratitude. Each week, add to the list. It’s amazing how many beautiful things you’ll find.
- Re-evaluate your relationship with food: Take a mental note of how you talk about food, how you approach meals, your grocery store choices. You might be surprised about how much negativity, and guilt, you feel about food. Dr. Linda Bacon writes in Health at Every Size, “When asked what came to mind upon hearing the words ‘chocolate cake’, Americans were most likely to connect it with ‘guilt’ while the French connected it with ‘celebration.’” Americans are hard-wired to see food as the enemy, which, in turn, dominoes into low body self-esteem. How can we change how we view food?
- Make mealtime sacred, a time to nourish yourself, a time to share with family, friends, or sit and reflect on what’s on your plate and how it’s going to make you healthier.
- Honor family tradition and history by making baklava, latkes, lefse, roasted lamb, and other traditional foods. Teach your children, nieces, or others that you love how to make your favorite family recipes. No counting calories!
- Make eating decisions made based on nourishment and health, NOT guilt and punishment.
- Be mindful of what you are teaching your children. The relationships you have with food and your body are passed onto your children. Break bad mental, and verbal, habits. Don’t say disparaging remarks about your body … ever. Move the conversation from fat-thin, to healthy-unhealthy. Censor yourself and change the way you speak about yourself. This will take practice. But soon, it will become habit.
- Selfie beware! Okay. Social media, fashion magazine, TV, and Hollywood-beware. How often do you see someone with bedhead and fuzzy teeth taking a selfie? Right. Social media is a cesspool of lies. (Sounds pretty harsh but true). Photoshopped models on magazine covers don’t do much to help us get a real sense of what real bodies look like. So … step back from social media, turn off the TV, ditch the magazine subscriptions and start interacting with real live people with real bodies who have bed head, morning breath, and probably love handles and are actually doing pretty great!
- Get moving! The best way to love your body is to use it. Go for a walk. Play tag with your kids. Start a lunchtime walking group at the office. Join a weekend hiking group, sign up for the public pool, or just lose yourself in a museum all day. Exercise is the best way to start to love your body. It’s never too late to start moving.
When discussing kindness and gratitude, begin with yourself and the beautiful things you have to offer this world. You are uniquely and wonderfully you. Give thanks for that because I don’t doubt so many others do!