Large and lumbering, the hippo looks up at the eagle soaring overhead. A nearby giraffe, with a long slender neck and snappy patterns and colors, nibbles a leaf from a tree.
“Seriously? He gets to fly?” Hippo is perplexed. “Such ease, freedom and lightness. And look at Miss Giraffe, all slim and fancy. But me? Grey, broad and big. Honestly.”
I really don’t think Hippos think that way. Nor do pigs, mice or warthogs. But we do. Human beings like to evaluate, compare and be discontent. As higher functioning beings, perhaps we simply function on a lower emotional plane. Though some of this is normal human nature, the worst case scenarios of discontented thinking are found in Depression, Dysphoria or even in Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Dysphoria is a medically recognized mental and emotional condition in which a person experiences intense feelings of depression and discontentment-- although in certain cases, those experiencing Dysphoria respond with indifference to the world around them. Dysphoria can be chemically-induced or a response to common life events. A very separate diagnosis, Body Dysmorphic Disorder is where one has an obsessive concern about a perceived physical defect. If you are struggling with deep negative obsessions, possible chemical imbalances, or discontented thinking that feels beyond your control, seeking professional help is a must.
For those who simply need to recognize the absurdity of their perspective and need a reminder to find joy in who they are rather than constant self-criticism, think of Mr. Hippo and take a few tips:
1. Mr. Hippo knows he was perfectly knitted together in his mother’s womb as a Hippo. The end. No questions asked.
2. Mr. Hippo sleeps and eats and enjoys his life. He does his thing. He accepts his portion and his cup and contentment is his.
3. Mr. Hippo isn’t too self-focused; he knows he is a piece in the bigger picture. What does this mean for Mr. Hippo? It means he is a hippo. He adds his color, shape and place to this world. And it is good.
The world is full of plant life, animal life, landforms, and all sorts of elements making up our lives and our experiences. Just like your body has a brain and a big toe, these small parts make the bigger whole. Each piece has value and a place; otherwise the whole does not exist. So whether you are short, tall, fast or slow, I hope you’ll find peace with how perfectly you have been made. And with this new found contentment, thrive in greater peace, joy and healthier living.
Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC