Finding Wisdom in Unexpected Places

Sometimes when I have trouble sleeping in the middle of the night, I turn on the television.  I like to watch classic sitcoms from the 1970s and 1980s.  Sometimes I like to analyze television and what the world needed at that time.  Sometimes I just watch something mindless so I can get myself to drift back asleep. 

Not too long ago I turned the television to the show Happy Days.  If you are already familiar with the show, feel free to skip to the next paragraph while I give a quick synopsis of the characters at play in the story.  Arthur Fonzarelli (aka Fonzie) is the ultimate cool guy that everyone looks up to and wants to be like.  He has almost magical “cool” skills that get things for him at the snap of his fingers.  There are a few other characters not pivotal to this particular episode, except for Richie Cunningham.  Richie is the likable, smart kid.  Some might call him a “goody goody” or even a nerd.  He and Fonzie have a special relationship.  The two people are unlikely friends, but Fonzie trusts Richie more than almost anything.

I didn’t see the whole episode, but apparently Richie is out of town, and Fonzie has a vision problem and is prescribed glasses.  Fonzie doesn’t want to wear the glasses because they are “uncool.”  Because he doesn’t want to wear his glasses, Fonzie drives his motorcycle into the lake.  This is looking dangerous.  The audience and the supporting characters are anxious to get Fonzie to wear his glasses.  To our relief in this 22-minute episode, Richie gets back in town and gets to talk to Fonzie.  Richie says something to the effect, “Fonz, glasses don’t make you cool or uncool.  You are already cool.”  Richie saves the day and Fonzie wears the glasses. 

This silly episode has a truth nugget that I think is important to meditate on.  In my work as a body image therapist,  a shift that we are often working on is summed up in this ah-mazing quote from Lindsay and Lexie Kite, authors of More than a Body.  The quote is this:

“Positive body image isn’t believing your body looks good, it’s knowing your body is good, regardless of how it looks.”

Read that quote again!  Knowing your body is good is a bit like Fonzie knowing he is cool.  How different would things be for you if you knew that your body is good?  I mean knowing it in your bones.  I know that this idea can be so foreign in a world swimming in diet culture and social media striving for everyone to look a certain way.  Take a deep breath and then another.  For 10 seconds, know that your body is good right here, right now.