[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Your body is the physical manifestation of your thoughts and behavior.
Two starting points for today’s belief.
First, how do you decide what diet, exercise, and beliefs are right for you? Some people are more muscular, some are thinner, some seem happier, others the opposite. Diet and exercise books flood the market. How do you make sense of it all?
Second, before your next shower, stop for a moment, look at yourself in the mirror, and think about the person you see. Discount the things you can’t do anything about — age, height, skin color, size of your nose, results of diseases and accidents, and such — and assess what you see. Do you like what you see? Do you love it? Do you feel shame, pride, confusion, or what? Note your face as well as your body. Does your face look happy? Sad? Excited? Resigned?
What these starting points have in common answers the questions in the first point: how you decide how to treat your mind and body.
A model to motivate physical and emotional fitness: your body is the physical manifestation of your thoughts and beliefs
Whatever you saw in your face and body, not counting the things you couldn’t change, didn’t happen by accident. They resulted from the choices you made in your behavior and thoughts.
Your body is the physical manifestation of your thoughts and beliefs
If your body appeared energetic, you’ve been thinking energetic thoughts and taking care of it. If it appeared withdrawn or weak, you’ve been thinking withdrawn thoughts and behaving accordingly. If your body was covered with fat, you’ve been filling it with fattening things. Maybe you’re covering your body up. Maybe you’re indulging yourself.
I’m not implying and value judgments here. Your body displays your choices — whether you like the choices or not isn’t the issue. But that’s what causes the body and face you see. Maybe you love enjoying life and have no problem with the consequences. If so, having that fat is great for you. My point here is that it all has a cause.
Whatever you see in your body and face came from your thoughts and beliefs.
Do you think you can be angry or vengeful a lot and no one will notice? This belief suggests otherwise. It forces integrity, authenticity, and genuineness on you because it implies your body reflects everything inside.
So your body and face tell you how you are living your life. They are like a barometer, a passive readout.
You can also use this model actively. If you want to change your life, figure out what body and face you’d like and make it happen. If you want a happy, friendly face and you don’t have one, use that knowledge to guide you to filling your life with happiness and friendliness. Is your life too full of things you can’t avoid to fill it with happiness and friendliness? Well, now you just found out why you look that way. You’re filling your life with unhappiness and unfriendliness — meaning you value those things.
Life isn’t like that. Your life is like that. By your choices of your behavior.
Want to change it? Change it. Can’t because of your values? Either change your values so you can change your life or realize you’re going to stay this way until you do, but don’t blame anyone else. Or learn to love your life as it is.
When I use this belief
I use this belief when I decide how healthy I want to eat, how much I want to exercise, and what beliefs I want to have.
When I see unhealthy food that might taste good this belief suggests I ask myself how unhealthy I want to make my body. And I usually eat healthier, though not always.
When I wonder if I should exercise, this belief suggests I ask myself if I want a disciplined body or a lazy, undisciplined one. I ask myself how I want to portray myself to others and whom I want to attract into my life.
When I think a mean or antisocial thought — anger, vengeance, argument, and so on — this belief suggests I ask myself what face I want to put forward to the world. And it usually leads me to consider other perspectives.
These days my body is in decent shape. I think it portrays discipline and health, not that much need to prove anything by building big muscles. I think I walk with a relaxed gait. I think my face generally looks calm, definitely calmer than when I was younger and fought so often to prove I was right.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces helplessly feeling you’re just stuck with what nature gives you. Of course you are stuck with some things, but I think most people discount the things you can’t control. At least in my circles, I don’t see people think less of someone else for their skin color, age, and so on.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to a healthy body, healthy behavior, and a healthy mind.
It also leads to living with more integrity and authenticity.
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