So many of us in the modern Western world are taught to beat the shit out of ourselves, because beating the shit out of ourselves is apparently how we will grow. How we heal. How we will earn the right to be loved.

Reality check: If you beat the shit out of a baby or a dog or a bird or any living organism, does it grow?

Does it heal?

Does it earn the right to be loved?

In fact, living organisms grow in the warm light of safety and curious exploration. We heal under the soothing balm of compassion and kindness. And to be loved is our birthright; it does not need to be “earned.”

So today, on New Year’s Day, can I make a suggestion, which you are free to ignore but also free to consider?

 

Resolve to notice pleasure

in your body,

in sensation,

in food,

in the movement of muscle and bone under skin,

in breathing in

and breathing out.

You are awake and alive inside an organic, mammalian body, and it is AMAZING and… and WEIRD and MESSY and SOCIAL and EMOTIONAL and YEAH. That alone is worthy of celebration.

You’re an animal and you’re already beautiful, as your dog is beautiful and a fish is beautiful and a baby – a newborn of any species – is beautiful simply because it is alive on earth and doing the things it was born to do: struggle and connect and live and work.

Your body is the one and only thing you have with you every single day of your life, from birth to death. You can fight it and hate it and rage against it. And you can welcome it and love it and embrace it with compassion and kindness.

Resolve, maybe, to notice pleasure, because noticing pleasure creates a context that facilitates safety, curiosity, kindness, and compassion.

I’m not dismissing the rage and shame and grief that lives in our bodies, right alongside the pleasure. On the contrary. When you practice noticing pleasure, you learn the skill of noticing suffering, too, and being gentle and kind with it. You  learn to grant your suffering – and then others’ suffering – the same acceptance and kindness and gentleness that you’re learning give the pleasure, the same acceptance and kindness and gentleness that you would give a suffering infant or a suffering dog.

And more: When you can experience safety, curiosity, kindness, and compassion around the experience of living in your own messy, mammalian body, you help create a context that supports everyone around you in doing the same thing.

 

Make the world a better place in 2015. Spend more time noticing pleasure.

Just an idea.

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