Whenever I meet someone new to working out, I ask them “why they want to start working out”?
They always tell me, “I want to be healthier,” “I want to feel better,” or” I want to be stronger and have more energy”.
These are all well and good. But there is another answer that only some are courageous enough to give me. Many might feel guilty about acknowledging this for fear of seeming narcissistic.
I want to look better.
In our society (the parts of the United States that I see, experience, and read about), we have a very contradictory/hypocritical view of our bodies and ourselves. We glorify healthy, fit bodies. They’re idolized in movies, television, and advertising.
At the same time, we preach about how the body is transient; as such: unimportant. The virtuous person is the one who is concerned with the matters of the mind and shuns the body.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
I think, therefore I am. Rene Decartes.
I want people to like me for who I am, not what I look like.
I’m not concerned with material things.
Each of these quotations assume the mind is the preference, the body is the shell shackling the spirit. We treat the mind and the body like they’re separate entities, subjecting them to preferential treatment and neglect.
And were shown images of those who went too far, like Greg Valentino (The Man Whose Arms Exploded) to deter us from becoming too obsessed about our bodies, warning us of the dangers of being too fit. Were told stories about Narcissus, who fell in love with his image, staring at himself until he died. There is definitely a dark side to all of this. This stops us from STARTING.
The body becomes something from the material world to be shunned in favor of more permanent things. Like the mind was something that never changed. But the body is ever changing, for good or for bad!
The fact that we spend billions of dollars in pursuit of healthy bodies despite these divisional philosophies and warnings so intensely suggests to me there is something deeply rooted in our beings screaming for acknowledgement. There is a problem, and our ENTIRE BEING, not just our bodies, not just our minds, are craving it because it isn’t the state they want to be in.
The mind-body dichotomy seems less and less concrete. Consider the following:
Thanks, Bill, for enlightening my childhood.
The mind can get the body sick and your mind gets sick when you don’t use your body.
To paraphrase Spinoza (or maybe to paraphrase one of my philosophy professors):
The mind is the body in so far as the body can think and the body is the mind in so far as the mind can do.
So stop hiding from what you really want and acknowledge what truly drives you. Denying your desire is denying yourself. Dont let your fears hold back what you need.
The soul is the prison of the body
Embrace why you want something: get close to it, let it carry you to where you want to go. Don’t be afraid of the force with which it can propel you.
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
Unify your thinking and your body’s most visceral, deepest desires align them and focus them on your goal. You either get to your goal or you don’t. Find a way to get it. This is zero sum. You can get there, or you can’t.