January 15, 2017 Liza Swedarsky, MD FacebookTwitterPinterestProbably the biggest problem in today's society of women is the lack of Gratefulness towards our bodies. One would have to truly understand the meaning of the word Gratitude to understand my point of view. Gratitude is defined as feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankfulness; received or experienced with welcome. Another definition is pleasing to the mind or senses, agreeable, welcomed; refreshing. Gratitude is a very personal loving expression. An expression we learn early on to deflect toward outward situations, circumstances and individuals. As children we are often taught that something has to be physically received to show an expression of Gratitude. I don't recall ever being taught to be grateful for my body. In fact, early on we are taught to criticize it, analyze it, and compare ourselves to others. This typically intensifies as we age. Instead of total acceptance, we grow from a self loving child who enjoys our gaze in the mirror...then some "active someone" or a "passive something" brings a different point of view into our mental existence. Suddenly self-consciousness replaces gratefulness. One starts to feel too short, too tall, too fat, to thin, too dark, too pale. I didn't realize that I was shorter or smaller than my younger sisters until my Father repeatedly expressed concern. Parents in their quest for perfection and goal that their child float under the radar and fit within societal norms and standards are typically the first offenders. After all, instead of seeing our children as unique individuals and beings with their own paths, we make everything about their experience as a direct reflection of ourselves. Until we learn to also embrace that our children's bodies may look different than our own, only then will we learn the ability to teach self gratitude and body gratitude to our youth. I didn't realize I had a large forehead or wide nose until children at school felt these topics were important to point out. We are all uniquely made and special. Our bodies have been given to us based on so many factors: genetics, environmental; geographical considerations. Stop for one moment and consider for once, that perhaps you are perfectly made. Just imagine, if we learn to direct the incredible emotion of gratefulness and awareness towards ourselves first... Then perhaps navigating the world and all of the challenges that lie ahead of us will not seem as insurmountable. Much of the energy we bring to our day originates from the initial energy we perpetuate about ourselves when we first wake up in the morning. And perhaps it would not take 40 years before one starts to feel comfortable, at peace, at home in one's own skin. Before the alphabet, I think kindergarten curriculum should be changed to first teach about Self Gratitude. It should be intertwined in the core of what is taught in our educational system. Imagine if, we were truly grateful for our bodies. We embraced it, all aspects of it? Embraced our bodies for today, not considering the 30 pounds we plan to loose within the next few months. Consider this, our body is the only living thing granted to us from the day we are born until the day we pass on from this life. How many of us wake up everyday and express gratitude for having eyes to open, for having the ability of sight. Millions of people do not have this gift. When is the last time you felt grateful for the gift of hearing. To be able to hear sounds and the wind, music, and laughter, leaves turning over on the ground in the fall, the crunch of snow under your boot in the winter...even the sounds we don't always love but that keep us safe, that warn us, such as horns and sirens. When is the last time you expressed gratitude for you actual body, in all it's completeness regardless of whether or not it is the size you had hoped it would be. Remember, we are given this body to experience the physicality of life from the time we are born. No better time to embrace it than now. It serves you, gets you from place to place. Your body allows you to experience every sensation and pleasure you choose. You don't have to be a size six or 5'9" to enjoy or life. Show Your Body Gratitude: Give thanks to your body, everyday first Listen to it Recognize...You are not your Mother. You are not your family history. You can change things. Know about what your body is experiencing. Learn the terms. Be able to have a dialogue with your doctor and other health care professionals. People know more about their cars or their home repairs than which organ they had removed or the operation they experienced. Why is this acceptable? Show interest. Ask questions. Be engaged in everything that relates to your body. Be open. Many forms of energy can be healing, soothing, peaceful, calming, and rewarding to your body. And we are all unique. What works well for your girlfriend may not work for you. Whether it be a long run, a bike ride, yoga, music, the beach, serenity, a silent retreat, or a night out with friends, pay attention and be open to what nourishes your body, mind and spirit and go for it!