I was at a baseball game yesterday enjoying the summer air and everything that it brings with it. Sun-kissed skin, the smell of popped corn, merriment, and the general buzz of chatter between friends and family. Towards the end of the game, while waiting for a firework show, music was playing throughout the stadium while a camera focused on people dancing and enjoying the music. In front of me, about six rows down moved a human. My initial thought was to write “there stood a kid,” but this person had transported beyond age and description. In true respect to the adage “dance like no one is watching,” this person was, indeed, dancing like nobody was watching.
I sat back, chuckled, snickered, probably rolled my eyes at what a ludicrous display was and then quickly realized what was happening. I wanted to be this kid. He had no cares in the world as to who was watching and was moving his body EXACTLY how he wanted to. He danced next to a group of friends who had stopped paying attention to him and scrolled through their phones while he cut through the air like a clunky machine with laser precision all at once. At one point this kid even fell, there was an audible groan from the audience, and he just stood back up and kept going.
The dancer even went so far as to turn to his friends and say “I’m so tired,” removed his stetson hat, immediately turned away from them, and kept dancing as if no-one was watching. Why couldn’t I do that? What was stopping me from getting up and moving my hips like this kid? Flailing my arms like I was in a street fight and didn’t know what to do. Kicking my legs and shaking them all about like there were spiders on my legs. Shame, the concern of other’s opinion of me, the value I place on what other people think of me instead of how I feel about myself.
Once this reality hit me I was reminded of ideas that some of the “greats” have shared regarding expressing yourself and the opinions of others. Next time you want to get up and shake it out but have reservations, keep some of these ideas in mind.
What can we learn from Bruce?
People often think of Bruce Lee as a movie star or martial artist. If you weren’t aware, he was also a poet, philosopher, and a Cha Cha dancing champion of Hong Kong. So what has Bruce shared with us about expressing ourselves?
The depth of this thought goes further than a paragraph or two can explain. Like most important and impactful thoughts, the concept is simple but not easy to put into action. Stop caring what others think. Once you frame things and put them into perspective it gets a little easier. Think of all of the things that are happening in your life at this moment. Family members in poor health, stress at work, having a hard time learning a new skill, relationship challenges, school or continuing education. With ALL of those things going on in your life, does anyone else have the weight to be of importance in your life?
The kid dancing, the lady singing karaoke, or the guy rapping on the corner? It’s very self-centered and narcissistic to think that with all of the things they have going on in their life, you would be the most important thing to them. With that in mind, stop caring what other people think because they don’t care about you. If they do happen to pass judgment, think of Marcus Aurelius.
What can we learn from Marcus Aurelius?
Many lessons to be learned from Marcus Aurelius and much like above, the concept is simple, but putting it into action takes some practice.
This really just echoes the sentiment above. While we should all be taking care of ourselves and putting ourselves first in physical health, mental health, emotional health, we tend to be very concerned with others opinions of us. To simply say “Don’t care what anyone thinks” is a bit naive. Yes, I just called myself naive since I said “just don’t care” right above. There is always a dichotomy to these types of things. The rub is in finding out where that balance lies. Should I care what the guy at the karaoke bar thinks about me singing? Absolutely not, I’m going to sing my heart out. Should I care how my coworkers perceive me? Probably. That opinion holds much more weight.
How can you express yourself just a little better this week?
Take out a piece of paper, not your phone, not an online checklist program, just a piece of paper. Preferably a post-it note. Write down a goal, make it a VERY simple goal, and post it on your bathroom mirror so you see it every day. Every day this week you’ll be reminded that you have to complete this goal. Maybe it’s doodling on another post-it note, potentially going to a karaoke bar and singing some Shania Twain or No Doubt (I’m aging myself), or maybe it’s going to a baseball game and dancing your heart out. Do yourself a favor and allow yourself to be yourself.