The champagne cork pops, glasses are filled and when the clock strikes twelve a toast is made with hopes of a great new year. The morning begins with not just a zest for that great new year but with strong goals made in the form of a resolution.
If you turn on a TV on New Year’s Day it will quickly become apparent that you may not be alone if your resolution this year is to go on a diet or start an exercise regimen. New Year’s ads are the unfortunate tell all in these common American obsessions. Everything from gym memberships, diet clubs, body sculpting, hair growth for men, magic creams to tighten our faces and necks to the seemingly ludicrous, a foundation filled airbrush sprayer guaranteed to make your skin look flawless and twenty years younger.
Ever seen those ridiculous before and after photo’s where the person looks miserable in the before and is standing hand on hip in a swimsuit in the after? Imagine instead seeing celebrations of a happier person, one with more energy, less health problems, and an increased ability to focus and relax.
Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays proved himself a master of psychologically based propaganda during WWI. So much so his talent was quickly employed after the war by several companies to convince Americans that they needed to buy their products. Is it any surprise that today, we ourselves are products? Our bodies, our lives all vulnerable to well planned marketing designed to give us a lifetime of feeling inadequate. My wish for all this new year is that we have a moment of realistic clarity. May the only reason we change our diets or exercise regiments be the desire of health. May we learn to love and accept the process of aging. Most of all may we find gratitude each day in what we already have and in where we already are. May success take on a new definition that doesn’t include fashion fads or fancy cars. Instead may your life be a beautiful journey. As Dr. Seuss once wrote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”
Audrey L Elder