Confession: I maybe kinda left the yoga studio tonight and immediately spent the money I’d just earned teaching on Poptarts, Fresca, and the latest edition of Cosmo. Whoops, my Good Yogi halo is slipping.
Yeah…you all know how much I’m not concerned with being a perfect yogi. Who says I can’t guide a class into a peaceful shavasana, and indulge in junk food and trashy magazines an hour later? Can’t both versions of me exist in peace?
I think that that kind of balance, in all areas of life, is a key factor to being happy. It’s easy to slip into an all-or-none mindset; whether it be with food, exercise, spirituality, whatever. People start a new diet and decide, “That’s it, I’m only eating locally-sourced, 100% organic salads with low-fat vegan dressing. Absolutely no chocolate.” Or join a gym with the attitude of “No pain no gain! Leg day every day! Who needs rest!” Or they pick up meditation and suddenly become a modern-day monk, opting out of anything that doesn’t jive with their newly enlightened life.
How does any of that sound fun???
On the flip side, gorging on fried foods, adapting the lifestyle of a sloth, and/or committing seven sins a day isn’t that great either. Somewhere in between the two is where the happiness and inner peace comes in. Somewhere where you take each decision as it comes, and not limiting yourself to always having to be “the healthy one”.
Any kind of label like that is where we run into trouble. And yet we all do it sometimes – to ourselves just as much as to strangers. Consciously or not, we file people away in mental boxes, as this or that type of person. Anything they (or we) do that doesn’t seem to mesh with that type, we question or judge or resist. But she’s the hippie yoga girl – what is she doing in a crappy club with a beer in her hand? Or Is he seriously eating that cheeseburger? I thought he was the super-fit gym guy??
This is especially troublesome when we start putting ourselves in those boxes – especially when we’re still trying to find out exactly who we are. In your twenties (or thirties, forties, fifties, life…), it’s hard enough trying to figure out your place in the world. Why impose extra limitations on yourself?
I’m kicking myself for not taking my own advice recently. A band that I absolutely love was playing a show a few weeks ago, and I missed out because of my own stubbornness. It was downtown, as part of a weeklong festival of music and partying and drinking, and I refused to buy tickets because “I’m not a downtown kind of person”. WHAT? Even writing that now, I’m cringing at what an idiot I can be. That’s what I get for doing the limiting labelling thing, I guess.
A (smarter) friend of mine had the Aha Moment I wish I had had. She was working at a gym, and felt so much pressure (admittedly, a lot of it self-imposed) to fit the fitness girl image: the bright, ever-happy gym nut who eats clean and doesn’t wear makeup. Eventually, after months of trying to be that girl, the Aha (or in this case “WTF, why am I doing this?”) Moment came, and she just did her own thing. Eff the rules and the “should”s and the expectations. I’ve never been so happy to see someone eating a cookie, or wearing a full face of makeup. You do you, boo!
You do you, whatever that entails; don’t limit yourself to doing what is expected or accepted. We all have countless interests and values and habits, and lots of them can seem to contrast each other at times. And that’s okay. The only type of person you should try to be is authentic. Which is easy, once you let go of those limits and embrace that happy balance. You do you, listen to your heart, and be the best, happiest you-type person you can be.