We often under-appreciate our own bodies. We are plagued by our imperfections like “our legs are too short” or “our nose is too big.” Seemingly unknown to us is that these legs get us to where we want to be and our nose tells us there is freshly baked bread at the corner bakery. We often do not appreciate our body for what it truly is, perfection in its imperfections. We are misguided by a distorted body image which is often influenced by our thoughts of what we should look like or our current emotional state and what other people look like in our eyes. And in some cases this distorted body image leads to depression, self-cynicism and in extreme cases, eating disorders and addiction. We miss out on the fact that the image we see in the mirror looking back at us is the amazingly direct manifestation of the universe. Too profound?
Okay, let’s back down a notch and think of body functions. We have eyes that see things, ears that hear, a mouth that speaks and eats, a nose that breathes and smells and skin that feels and touches. Now isn’t that something to be grateful for? Gratefulness for what we have, the body that we inherited from our parents, grandparents and so forth is a living testament of family history, characteristic and heritage. We should be grateful of our body for what it truly represents, the uniqueness of our individuality as well as the heritage we carry.
Self-appreciation or self-gratitude is often misinterpreted as being narcissistic. There is a big difference between narcissism and self-gratitude. Being grateful for our being means appreciating everything about us without being attached to the mere physical image. Instead, we begin to feel a deeper understanding and appreciation for what we have. Narcissism is obsessing about the physical image or self-centered body functions, and it is more related to insecurity than appreciation. Self-gratitude on the other hand, is appreciating ourselves for what we truly are without any comparison or relation to other people. The ability to feel gratitude for ourselves allows us to feel equal to others—to realize that we are not better and not worse than anyone else, but rather, that we are all equal in our uniqueness.
Being grateful and accepting our self-image as it is has the deep impact of inspiring us to take better care of ourselves. Instead of producing an attitude of complacency, gratitude has the effect of inspiring us to improve our health and well-being because we already appreciate what we have. In other words, we become more willing to take better care of ourselves because we are grateful for who and what we are.