If you spend a while on Instagram (other social media are available) looking at fitness related hashtags, you’ll get the distinct impression that having muscles is THE contribution a lot of people want to make to the world.
I’m all for people following their dreams and demonstrating their hard work, commitment and discipline, but I did go through a stage of wondering what the point of all that was. And I figured out that there can only be one answer to that question. For those Instagram peeps, the work it takes to develop muscles makes them happy. The fact of having muscles makes them happy. And sharing the having of muscles is how they are expressing their inner selves with the world, often with a view to helping to inspire others.
That's great, right? We are all looking for the happy and when you find it and indulge it, well done you!
The problem is that somewhere along the way, the fact that this muscle obsession is just about those people expressing their happy has been lost and we've come to conflate the idea of a fit, toned bod with the idea of being your best. Actually, while I think about it, it strikes me that we also conflate the idea of monetary success with being your best too.
Let's take a moment to remember that's not what it's all about, because if we get caught up in that thought process, we get caught up in the logical flip side of that coin - that those who aren’t bemuscled (it's like bejewelled. A new word for you there that I may have just made up) or rolling in piles of cash are therefore NOT being their best.
With that thought in mind, it's likely that your gremlins (and/or the forces of social pressure, which may or may not be the same thing) start shouting at you. "How dare you not be your best like everyone else!! Get pumping iron and making more money RIGHT NOW!"
All the gremlins are missing something really crucial here: that probably the reason that both muscles and money have become the poster children for all forms of worthwhile human achievement is that they’re super visible and easy to measure.
Equally valid are a zillion other things. This is where we strike a blow for our own definitions of success. Do not be unduly swayed by Instagram or Entrepreneur Magazine! The opposites of both the above examples are also success.
Yes, it is true!
You are allowed to have a softer body, one that doesn’t have those defined lines, and still be physically beautiful, healthy and powerful. Bulging muscles and abs of steel do not have to be the way you roll.
You can have a modest business that keeps your life ticking over in a quiet but deeply contented way. Millionaire you are not, but by George, are you happy!
Popping muscles are a lot easier to measure than a deep sense of body confidence. A bottom line with a bunch of zeros is easier to demonstrate than an appreciation of the beauty in the ordinariness of things. So you won't see those things floating around in the shared cloud of human consciousness that we all wander round in, and it's easy to forget that you don't have to want what everyone else wants.
Success is the ability to chase and capture those things that make YOU happy. It gets tricky to bust out of the mould that you see many other people (apparently) happily nestling into. Cultivating the mental freedom that makes you the master of your own destiny enables you not to get caught up in the confusion of "if I don't have/want that, does that mean I'm not winning at life?"
Keep treading your own path. You are winning at life.