What is life in this body really about? I wrote and rewrote my answer to that question half a dozen times, trying to articulate my thoughts on how to mindfully care for our bodies without regard to body image. But every time I read through my response, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the answer was much simpler.
When I reworded the question—What should bodily life look like?—the answer came to me immediately. It was right in front of me the whole time, simple and unassuming: the life of a child.
Observe the way young children interact with the world. They’re much more in tune with their physical instincts than adults. Kids are always doing what comes naturally:
- They move constantly. They walk, run, skip, dance, jump, scoot, crawl, twirl, and trot. Force them to sit, and they squirm, fidget, flail, and ultimately get up. They can’t help themselves; they need to move!
- They yearn to be outside. They crave the fresh air. They roll in the snow, run barefoot in the grass, dig in the dirt, pick flowers, climb trees, stomp in rain puddles, and jump into piles of leaves.
- They eat and drink when they’re hungry and thirsty, and stop when they’re full. They eat what they like and refuse to eat what they don’t like.
- They sleep when they’re tired. They go to bed early, get up early, and sleep 10-12 hours a night.
- They play. And because playing is fun, they tend to laugh, smile, and giggle all the time.
What should we adults do with our bodies? All the things that kids do simply because it’s in their nature to do them. But guess what? It’s in our nature, too. We haven’t lost our ability to do what kids do; we’ve just chosen to ignore our instincts. We stubbornly push aside the things we need in favor of what we want. We force ourselves to do things we don’t really want to do because we think we need to. But I think it’s time to be more child-like.
Embrace your body’s natural desire to move, be outside, eat, drink, sleep, and play. It’s easier than you think and every bit as fun as you might imagine. I’m not saying you should shirk your responsibilities and play outside all day (but wouldn’t that be awesome?!). All I mean is that we should strive to incorporate these things into each and every day so that they become an integral part of our lives.
We were not made to sit on our butts all day indoors. We were not made to starve or overindulge our bodies. We were not made to work constantly without time to rest and play. We were made to love and serve the people around us, to enjoy creation, and to care for the things entrusted to us. We were made to live.