Inventor and architect Richard Buckminster Fuller once said that 99% of who you are is invisible and untouchable and I think he’s right.
There are only two things that make you, you: your physical and your mental parts. Your physical parts are your bones, arteries, blood vessels, hair, skin, stature, eyeballs, toenails, etc. These are the parts of you that you can see, touch, taste, smell, and hold in your hand.
Looking at that list, I’d argue that we care a lot more about what our hair looks like than what our blood vessels look like, because our hair is something that can be seen, assessed, and judged by other people.
Poor blood vessels.
That being said, we tend to ignore the parts of us that other people can’t see. Our mental parts include our thoughts, emotions, and mind. Unfortunately, the invisible and untouchable aspects of ourselves are what we really ignore. We spend so much time scrutinizing our external qualities like hair length, wrinkles, and waist size.
When we ring in the New Year and vow to take control of our lives, it typically means we want to lose weight, drink more water, or exercise more often. What if, instead, we decided to take control of our invisible selves?
Fuller says that it’s our ability to think and go behind our physical form that determines our quality of life. In other words, the more control you have over the invisible parts of you, the happier you will be.
This fact of life can be easily demonstrated while standing in line at the local DMV. One person might be visibly overwhelmed with frustration and anger, while the person directly in front of them appears happy to be alive and without a care in the world. The external reality of their situation is exactly the same. However, their internal reaction to that situation couldn’t be more different. One person has their insides under control; the other does not.
I believe that if we focus more on our thoughts and what’s going on in our mind, then we can finally start to live purposefully. Here are three things you can start doing today to focus on the invisible parts of you.
Question your insides, not your outsides. The next time you catch yourself comparing your thigh gap to the woman’s standing next to you at the deli counter, shift the focus of your inner dialogue from an external focus to an internal one. Don’t ask yourself, “Why don’t I work out more?” Instead think, “Why am I so hard on myself?” The first question’s focus is about what other people think of you; the second refers to what you think of yourself.
Question yourself when you start judging. The next time you mentally judge someone else, hit pause. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with the other person, get clear on what’s causing you to feel so judgmental. If you dig deep enough, the answer will have nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with you.
Find some quiet time. Going to the gym is great and gives you a chance to work on the physical parts of you. But you should also give yourself the time to be alone with the invisible you. Starting tomorrow, find 10 minutes anytime during your day and sit in a quiet place with a lit candle in sight. Take slow and steady breaths and remind yourself that the part of you that needs strength and stability is the part of you that nobody else can see.
Fuller was right. The 99% of you that’s invisible and untouchable is everything.
A friend of mine once said that no matter how hard you squeeze, you will never get apple juice out of an orange. It doesn’t matter what squeezes the orange—a sledgehammer or a $500 juice extractor—because orange juice is what’s inside and orange juice is what’s going to come out.
If you can only share what you have inside, then it’s time to start loving and nurturing that juicy, vital part of you. Both for other people’s sake and your own.