“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Sir Isaac Newton
Believe it or not, this applies to life, too. Specifically the efforts we make toward self improvement. When we reach the point where we realize we need to make a change in any area, the hardest part of making that change is our own habits fighting back to keep things as they are. We must overcome inertia. The things that we need to change feel comfortable, mostly because they are what we are used to. The period of adjustment can be painful, at least emotionally, but also possibly physically. This is a part of the process of accepting the need for change and applying our willpower to the situation to effect the change.
About 20 years ago, I was in a marriage that was turning sour. I had entered into it with the false idea that if we got married, it would somehow just work. It didn’t. When the marriage fell apart, I had a lot of soul searching to do, and realized that I had not put the work into it that was needed to make it work. Even worse, I also had to realize that I had not even started by building a good foundation for the marriage – I wasn’t ready. I had been looking for an ideal partner, instead of looking to be an ideal partner. That realization was a break-through in itself, but it was only the beginning of over 10 years of work on developing my own character. I was very self-destructive, very defensive, and very antagonistic – especially towards my wife, which she didn’t deserve.
My process for correcting some of this (I’m by no means finished) began by visiting lots of garage sales, and picking up literally everything I could lay my hands on to read what supposedly had helped others with the same problems I now recognized in myself. It was pretty hit-and-miss at first. Would you like to know what finally started the growth itself?
Learning how to laugh – at life.
That is right. I had always had an ability to recognize when someone was telling a joke, but I rarely (or never) actually found humor in life itself. When I started looking for it, and actually appreciating it, I started to laugh. Learning to laugh helped me to release my insecurity, resentment, and anger – the things that were poisoning my life and making me impossible to be around. Slowly, I learned to appreciate life. Sometimes it was little things, like the warmth of the sun early in the morning, and other times it was true marvels of nature, like the skill with which a bird can fly along, dive toward the ground to retrieve something that caught it’s eye, and just barely avoid being hit by a car doing 35-40 down the street. Think about it – that is a trick that would baffle a lot of trained pilots!
Then I began to really appreciate beauty – in all it’s forms. Wonderful buildings. Waterfalls. Vast panoramic views of unspoiled nature. Cloud formations. The way a doe takes care of a fawn. And beautiful people. But, people can be beautiful in at least 2 different ways – external beauty and internal beauty. The first is alright to look at, even admire, from a distance. But without the second, physical beauty is not something to get involved with in a personal relationship. It’s focusing on the wrong item. Physical beauty is always temporary – even “The Terminator” is loosing his youthful strength and physique. Look at the money Cher spends on staying as close to top form as she can.
But yes, appreciating physical beauty is a part of appreciating beauty itself. Not in a sexual, lustful way. Think of it more like giving God (the creator, the architect, the great ? of the universe, or whatever) credit for a job well done in crafting the body that the person is using. Also, giving the user credit for doing a great job of taking care of the gift they have. It is possible to do that without it being sexual, and this is the level to aspire to. It includes appreciating our own bodies, and becoming comfortable with our own nudity, seperate from sexuality. Let’s face it, according to the Bible, Adam and Eve were created nude, and God didn’t provide them with clothing of any kind until he was kicking them out of the Garden of Eden.
Ok, I’ve rambled, and gotten off-topic quite a lot, but I think I’ve made the point. Change is possible, but it isn’t easy. It takes time to learn new habits, and break old ones. We have to accept that process, and give ourselves credit for small victories along the way, to reinforce the desired behavior. As Dan Millman says in his book “Living on Purpose” – we need to look at the big goals and figure out what we can do to start working on that right now. If our goal is to erradicate world hunger, start by making a sandwich for a homeless person today.