UNITED STATES—Imagine this—you’re walking down the street unobserved. Then suddenly—click—a camera lowers from the gaze of a passer-by and you are suddenly aware that somebody has snapped a picture of you. Now you feel ashamed: you weren’t ready or you weren’t standing straight. And as you go down the list of imagined things that could be wrong with your body, or dorky things that you might have been caught doing, you want to stop the world and retouch this picture that is already history.
You know, my resolution this year is to have no resolutions at all, but to shamelessly accept who I am and celebrate the ambush photograph of myself. Instead of making feeble resolutions, I am shamelessly going to dwell on gains made in the past year. However small some may seem, they are all great to me. Like that $2 win on a lottery ticket or a kid returning a Flair pen I’d loaned and then forgotten about; a ripple of grace barely perceived at the time–it happened so fast–only to return with a flood of gratitude when I found it again in my pocket.
I am beginning to see shamelessness as a lovely and misunderstood thing. A bit of shamelessness, once in a while, can help us to steamroll through all circumstances, nutritional and otherwise, with a child’s glee, a gambler’s guts and an executioner’s conscience. Shamelessness also implies an ability to laugh off what in others would provoke tears or blushes.
Tell, me what kind of crap, er, stuff comes up when somebody takes an ambush picture of you? Whatever it is, hang-ups about your hair, your shape, clothes or grooming, it’s a noxious cloud of stuff you can dispense with. Being shameless is an instant antidote to all that.
Now, the start of 2015, is the precious time when you could be nurturing and planting seeds for the hours and months ahead. Instead, in the quest to mint new resolutions, you are likely fixating on regrettable choices and what is lacking in your life. Meanwhile, dwelling on gains made in the past year and making a shamelessly long list of your gains is a powerful technique toward making profound changes we truly seek.
Shamelessness—arch enemy of guilt and whining—it’s about deciding how to feel, it’s an attitude. What was it that Abe Lincoln said? People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. The same goes for shamelessness, which may also be defined as the art of acceptance and not getting rattled by the sugar-loving, pizza-gobbling child within, for example.
Shamelessness encompasses an ability to be resilient in your diet code. There may be times of travel or holiday when nary a vegetable is in sight. What are you going to do?
In all areas there can be lapses, your own failings, and a bit of shamelessness is the way to glide effortlessly over the rough patches. What’s done is done. The picture has already been taken and been posted. Be confident that that your better habits will emerge. Being shameless means ultimately being true to your best way of living. Don’t be embarrassed by displays of zeal. Don’t capitulate to that urge to go soft on yourself today because you feel queasy about something that happened yesterday. Be shameless in sticking to your rituals and routines.
Build each day on a foundation of good acts. Sloughing off the residue of not-so-good acts. Maintain a shameless level of joy, gusto, movement and engagement, and the modes of guilt and recrimination will retreat.
Guilt is a weed that grows out of the mind; its flowering stifles the body. Overwhelmed, one might be prone sometimes just to stand there agape, yet the muscles of the body have their own mind and heart. They bask in movement and change. Let the body get the upper hand, in guilt-drenched days; take action to kindle the joy. Caving into the queasiness and uncertainty of guilt, the mind will seek out all kinds of aches and inertia to justify staying in bed, slacking and being at odds with our own ambush photo. But listen, every morning that we awake we’re still Olympic athletes in the triathlon of life.
Humorist Grady Miller is author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on amazon.com Grady Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.