Greetings, Sustainable Institutions Readers!

     The human body can be a great gift. How do we best utilize the human body and push it to do more? In this post, I suggest five ways to improve individual performance.

Utilize the gift of your body

            Your body has been given to you for a reason. The body is meant to be utilized proactively. This means different things to different people depending on their bodily ability, lifestyle, and needs. However, the gift of the body needs to be maintained and utilized effectively. This means becoming as active as possible and not abusing the body. Be grateful for the gift of life within you.

Become and remain mentally and spiritually aware

            On a related note, one needs to utilize not just one’s physical body, but also one’s mind and spirit. A consciousness of the self is where we have the opportunity to become self-aware not just of ourselves, but in relation to other people. To maximize our effectiveness, we need to not just train up our physical bodies, but also examine our mental and spiritual lives. A daily inventory of our own lives, including our more basic routines, may be a useful tool. Remind yourself of what you did well. Where did you make a positive impact today? What can you do better tomorrow (or in the future)? 

Know what your body can do

            From a mental and, even, spiritual perspective, an awareness of the body can be quite helpful in performance. It is true that many of us may find that our bodies have some sort of performance issue that may limit performance in a typical way. This can either be permanent (for instance, disability or lack of height in an adult) or temporary (an injury). Having awareness lets us know what our bodies can do. While it is important to be aware of any potential limitations, it is just as important to know what one’s strengths are so that one can compensate for any limitations.

Utilize inner strength to exceed expectations

            If one wants to succeed despite limitations, one has to push the limits. There are plenty of times when people have tried to hold me back from doing something or have suggested that I could not do something. One has to ignore the constant critics. If one has the mind and ingenuity to do something positive and within reasonable safety standards (if there is a reasonable chance you might be injured, don’t perform the activity; we don’t want injuries or worse) than find a way through mental strength, creativity, and perhaps help from allies to find a way forward.

Respect your body and respect those of others

            Society often idealizes the body. Those who fall outside society’s expectations often are devalued (see, for example, Goffman, 1963; Davis, 1964; Dexter, 1964). So too, people sometimes devalue the strength and potential of their own bodies.  Part of respecting the body comes from knowing the potential within ourselves. Society’s whim should not determine how we utilize our own bodies nor should our self-perceived limits. In order to utilize this power, we need to be in control of our feelings about our own bodies.

      It is also important for society to respect individual choice with regards to their bodies. Not all bodies are alike. Instead of stigmatizing the body or inventing some fanciful method leading to false normalization of certain bodily attributes, we need to be able to cater to individual needs and preferences. We also need to be able to respect people enough to promote legitimate scientific methods and practices while still promoting the capacity of every human being. This certainly is not an easy task, but if we look beyond our own prejudices, we might find it more conducive to promoting a society not only more inclusive of bodily difference, but one let allows individuals to exceed the limits of what was thought possible. 

Conclusion

            The human body can be somewhat paradoxical in terms of performance. On the one hand, we may find that we have certain limitations to the body. On the other hand, the human body can also exceed limits that we either put on ourselves or society hoists upon us. The keys are mental and spiritual willpower, an active use of body, mind, and spirit, and respect for the body.

How do you find your bodily power? What other pathways to bodily power do you think should be included here? I invite you to utilize the comments section to respond.

                Be at your best,

                Andrew Bennett

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