I have a confession to make. I exercise because I know it's good for me and because it makes me happy. But I also like the way it makes me look.
There, I said it.
Since submerging myself in both the spiritual and body-positive cultures, I've tried to force myself to not attach any worth to the way I look.
But after wrestling with this idea for the last year or so, I've come to terms with the fact that detaching from our ego is not as easy as the gurus make it seem.
Don't get me wrong — I do completely agree with the lesson spiritual gurus are trying to teach. The thoughts and beliefs concerning our outer appearance are purely derived from the ego. We're only concerned with the way we look because we're trying to control how other people view us. This comes from a self-centered, attention-seeking, and egotistical part of ourselves.
Here's the problem with that, though. Whenever the ego does make its way to the surface — and it always does — we judge ourselves for "not getting it right," which can cause even more harm.
Our thought process goes something like this:
I want to lose weight. Oh, damn! I just had an egotistical thought. I suck at this. And I still want to lose weight.
Maybe some people have an easy time letting go of the ego. If so, that's great. Personally, I was a victim of my ego's demands about fitness, nutrition, and my body for years. So, I've found it impossible to eliminate those thoughts from my daily chatter. I've also found that trying to pay attention to and resist these thoughts is really exhausting and painful.
After grappling with these emotions for months, I started to ask myself this question: Is it so bad to want to like the fact that exercise makes me look good? Is posting a gym selfie on social media so bad, at the end of the day?
Of course, we can't put all our eggs in our ego's basket, because then we experience an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows throughout life that disguise themselves as happiness and depression. But, those highs, those external manifestations were merely posing as happiness.
So, here's my suggestion when it comes to keeping the ego in check (without ignoring it completely) and staying connected to what matters: