“Be so happy that those around you can’t help but be happy too…”
I was once listening to a friend who had gone through a tough time, and I’d asked what had helped him ‘bounce’ back so quickly from his tough situation. And he replied so simply ‘happiness is a choice, we can chose to sit and regret, or we can chose to be positive and move forward.’ It really resonated with me. When we are confronted with a choice we often chose the easier route and the route that will provide short term comfort. But there is always a choice.
A lot of what I talk about in my blogs is habit building, and repetitive practises; none of these skills or thought reprogramming happen overnight- they take patience, practise and repetition. How do we choose happiness? Positive self-appraisal? Optimism?
You have to make yourself happy. You have to know what you want, and why you want it. You are the engineer of your own life, your experiences, capabilities and your desires. You need to fulfil yourself, you shouldn’t look to others to fill that gap or make you happy- it is not their job. Their job is to embrace your happiness and enjoy life with you.
We often want for more than we have, and we are never satisfied with what we have. On this particular topic- I’d like to address body image. And happiness with ourselves on the outside, can boost our confidence and in turn our happiness and optimism. As humans we are given a very small time on earth to see and experience as much as we can. Our systems are delicate and finely tuned- we are masterpieces. Each cell designed to perfection to allow us to see, hear, feel, taste, smell… and we cannot change what we have. It is an uncontrollable.
But we can be grateful for what we have been given, life and make the best of what we have. Body image is tough. I’ve most definitely struggled. I was born missing one arm. I struggled in my early teens with weight. And I still feel self-conscious about my body as an international gold medal winning athlete.
As a little girl I wore a prosthesis religiously. I hid my right arm. I didn’t want to be different- I wanted to fit in. I wasn’t confident to be myself. But as I grew older, and my arm was the source behind my athletic success- I became proud of having one arm, as I had opportunities that were incredible and having one arm made me Lauren Steadman. People will stare, as they did when I was younger, but I am ready and I don’t mind because I’m proud to be me.
Body image is so important to our self-confidence. I have always had a love for food. And I have an exceptionally feminine body- all the curves, and the bumps. I know I am slender, but I still get that small lower belly pouch in tight dresses. And when I race I know I don’t look like an elite athlete, my hips, my boobs, and my body type don’t suit the typical ‘athletic look’. I’ve struggled for years thinking people wont think I’m an elite athlete, or I wouldn’t wear a cropped top at photoshoots- I didn’t have a six pack. It really worried me!
But then one day I realised. I may have curves, I maybe feminine, but I am a world and European champion- no body type can change that. I get the best of both worlds- I get to be curvy in a ball gown and my body still delivers an athletic performance when I demand it. Everyone is unique and everyone has ‘differences’ but it is those differences that allow us to ‘stand out’.
Proud as punch.
I’d be lying if I said it was as easy as that. It’s not, but you can control your thoughts. I learnt over the years to be proud, I only get one body and I can’t grow an arm or change my figure, but I can learn to love what I have. Think more so about what you do have, instead of what you don’t. Lots of things come and go in our lives but you yourself will most definitely be the most constant thing in your life- so learn to ‘get to know yourself’ and ‘better yourself.’ May that be life choices, body image, relationships, your happiness, your efficacy- Do you. Be You. For You.
Chose your happy place.
Lastly, your happy place. No one is happy constantly it’s impossible, life has its challenges, but you are strong and tough and you will grow with the challenges. Chose a happy place that is yours and its not something that can be taken away from you- something permanent. A favourite place to go, a small daily routine, a favourite song or food dish, something that you can do that will make you feel good.