Sunday, September 19, 2010

Missing the point.

Internal happiness doesn't always follow external, material success. We have a certain conception of what will bring us happiness in life, whether it's money, prestige, position, achievement, etc., but the case of Amanda Beard shines light on the deeper side of the issue. An excerpt of a recent New York Times article is below. Her picture, left, is from the 1996 Olympic Games, where she was 14 years old.

[Beard twice broke the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke and won that event at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. She made four Olympic teams and the cover of Playboy. Yet during that period, Beard said, “I was never really, really happy.”

Throughout her teens and well into her 20s, Beard presented an image to the world that was as airbrushed as her photographs in magazines. Her toothy smile and surfer girl insouciance hid deep emotional pain. In a series of interviews over the past year, she revealed for the first time her struggles with anger, depression and self-injury.

“I’d go to swim practice, put my face in the water, and I didn’t have to talk to anybody,” Beard said. “Swimming was like my escape, but it was also like this huge prison because I felt like I had to swim up to people’s standards.”

“I just kind of put a smile on my face and just pretended a lot of the time,” Beard said, adding, “I always felt like I didn’t want to be a role model because if people knew the real me or the things I was doing or going through, there’s no way they’d want their kid to be like me.”

Beard said: “I’d go back to this whole self-hating thing, where I had this record player repeating to me, ‘You’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re nobody.’ You’re in so much emotional pain, and you don’t know how to express it.” ]

What are we actually looking for in life? Where does that internal peace, fulfillment and satisfaction come from? As we progress materially, we also must progress and cultivate values internally, or spiritually. Otherwise, we may up with everything we always wanted, but nothing we were really looking for.

For the complete article, visit

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