Costs and Benefits of Awareness

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I’m standing half-nude in front of a full-length mirror pinching and poking at my midsection.

Throughout the past two weeks I’ve been on a dietary cleanse—mostly raw foods, no alcohol, no caffeine, no processed foods, no animal products. Plus I’ve been hitting the gym with Shawn each morning for a rigorous workout. Two fine improvements to my daily routine. Without a doubt I’m healthier now than I was a month ago. Less body fat. More muscle. Better sleep. And, most important, I feel great (after all, how we feel is the best barometer of health).

So why am I more frustrated with the image staring back at me in the mirror?

Whenever we make radical changes—diet, exercise, career, etc.—we shine a spotlight on our flaws. Our blemishes shimmer in the light. This is the cost of awareness.

Our standards change whenever we are infected with a new awareness. We scrutinize ourselves more. The more we scrutinize, the more the spotlight brightens, and the more our imperfections stand out.

Awareness isn’t always pleasant. But becoming aware is important and necessary, because the benefits, especially the long-term benefits, can be experienced only once we’ve seen our flaws for what they are: past weaknesses. Only then can we work toward strengthening ourselves. Only then can we move toward the best version of ourselves.

True awareness allows us to improve, to grow. To become better, but not perfect. Our lives will never be perfect. We’ve all been cut deeply. But that’s okay. Awareness helps us heal, and our scars make up the best parts of us.

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