You work hard to maintain your level of fitness. You’re active every day and you get a more intense workout at least a few times a week, too. You wouldn’t even think about skipping it, because it’s a habit that’s positive in so many ways. It gives you energy and resiliency, improves your mood, adds to your confidence and helps you look your best. These results should keep you feeling good about yourself; being fit is its own reward. There’s absolutely no need to prop yourself up by looking down on others.
What Not To Do
Do you find yourself judging people you see in the gym, in the park, in stores, on the street or at work? When you see someone taking the elevator rather than the stairs, do you assume they’ re lazy? If someone is heavier than average, do you read that as a character flaw? Do you inspect other people’s grocery carts and judge their choices?
If you do any of this, then you’re projecting the standards you have for yourself-and facts about your values, your physical condition and your priorities-to
others, and that’s negative and unhelpful. If you’re truly confident and secure, you should not feel the need to look down on others based on superficial judgement and incomplete information.
Not Every Disability is Visible
Consider, for example, people who use the elevator instead of the stairs, perhaps even for a single flight. If you’ve never been seriously injured, you might not be aware of how many people have physical challenges or are living with chronic pain, even if they appear to be normal. Not everyone with a disability is in a wheelchair.
Injuries from sports, military service and car accidents often result in issues that can affect mobility. Young and middle aged, otherwise healthy people can have problems with pain and joint deterioration. Although some have learned to mask their condition by hiding a limp and keeping up with a regimen of physical therapy, it may still be painful for them to climb up and down stairs or to be on their feet for too long. People with artificial joints may avoid sports and other high-impact physical activities on doctors’ orders. That makes it hard to stay fit and easy to put on weight, especially for those who are already predisposed to have a larger build. These people aren’t necessarily disabled, but working on their fitness may be what makes it possible for them to function normally; taking it to a higher level may not be possible or practical.
In addition to problems from current and past injuries, physical issues might include a hereditary disorder, a sight or hearing impairment, a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, or an intellectual difference or disability. All of those things can make it harder to stay fit, keep a job, fulfill family responsibilities and get through each day.
You Don’t Know Their History
When you see a stranger and judge them because they seem lazy or unfit, you are doing so without knowing their circumstances or their history. You don’t know what
injuries or health challenges they may be living with. You don’t know their family or personal history.
Always remember that health is far from 100 percent controllable and that it’s not a moral issue. You pursue health because it benefits you in many ways. Others may be committed to their health, however, for any number of reasons, their results look different from yours. Still others have different interests and priorities. If someone would rather read a book than go to the gym or spend time with their children rather than cook from scratch every night, those are valid choices.
Enjoy the health and fitness you’ve had the opportunity to cultivate; it’s got so many benefits. But remember, it’s not a valid excuse to look down on others. Don’t be the kind of person who makes unsupported assumptions and judgement based on little or no evidence. That is not a healthy attitude.