Just last week I heard a statement I have heard from time to time in my life from someone in one of my seminars. He said, “It’s better to look good, than feel good.” I understand this sentiment and have felt it many times myself. However, as I think about this and the implications of it in our lives and in our culture, I am deeply disturbed. It really isn’t better to look good than feel good, but many of us live as this were true.
For me personally, concerns about my own appearance – both my physical appearance and other people’s perceptions of me – have caused me a great deal of pain, suffering, and stress throughout my life. More often than I would like to admit and even to this day, I waste a good amount of energy worrying about how I look physically, wondering what others think about me, and spending time and even money in an effort to appear as positively as I can on lots of superficial levels.
From listening to many people, paying attention to the messages in the media, and noticing the state of our culture, I know I am not alone is this appearance obsession. Why do we do this? I suppose the answer to that question varies a bit for each of us. However, fundamentally it comes down to an issue of appearance vs. substance. Many of us would rather have a nice house, a nice car, a great body, a lot of money, and all the outward material signs of happiness, wealth, and success…rather than actually being truly happy and fulfilled, feeling a sense of abundance and gratitude, and genuinely creating success and peace in our lives. I don’t know that we do this in a malicious way or that we intentionally sabotage ourselves, I think we mostly don’t know any other way to do it and do much of this unconsciously.
The challenge for me and for all of us is to go deeper, tell the truth about who we are, how we feel, and what our motives are…and, to alter our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Like many things in life, if we put our attention on what we actually want (i.e. to feel good about ourselves, to create a true sense of fulfillment, and to experience a deep level of peace in our lives), the other stuff often takes care of itself. And, even if it doesn’t, who cares, we have our attention focused in the direction of what is true and real for us anyway.
In other words, if we first stop and appreciate how great we already are and how wonderful our life already is…and, we focus on the true SUBSTANCE of who we are an what we want to attract into our lives (not just the superficial APPEARANCE of those things), we will create a grounded sense of trust and gratitude for ourselves and our lives. In so doing, we will be able to take our energy and attention back from those things that do not matter (like how we look, what others think about us, our material obsessions, etc.) and put them on the things that are more important (like loving ourselves, loving others, being grateful for life, and more).
With Love, Truth, and Appreciation,