Acting For Real

Have you ever seen the first few episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? I recently saw an interview with Will Smith, and he shared how the show’s creators had developed this television series around him because he was a popular young rap artist, but no one had bothered to ask him if he could act. He described how he was so nervous about his first acting gig that he memorized everyone else’s lines in addition to his own. Although Will did a really good job of learning the entire script, he was still learning how to act. He had a habit of mouthing the other actors’ lines as they were delivering them. The editors of the show did a great job of cutting around this, so you only see Will doing this a handful of times. And by the end of that first season, Will had relaxed enough to only “speak” when it was his turn.

Another famous Will, William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.”  And if you think of weight-loss in these terms, living the principles of Happy Calories Don’t Count is very similar to being a good actor. (And I’m not talking about acting “as if”).

In acting there are technical things you must know and practice – your lines, your blocking, your marks. There are also “craft” things you must know – your motivation, your obstacles, your relationship to the other characters, the stakes. But once the curtain rises or the director yells “action,” you must let all that work go, become fully present in the moment, and work off your fellow actors. This is especially true of work in theater because there is no one yelling, “Cut!” If someone forgets a line, or if something on set doesn’t work like it should, you need to improvise around it to carry on the scene.

All that work – the memorizing, the analyzing of scenes, the rehearsing – has a purpose. That purpose is to create a three-dimensional character from the pages of the script. But for the character to be fully alive, the actor needs to be totally present and allow the inspiration of the character to live through him or her. When an actor has embodied the character, the lines are no longer memorized words to be said at a certain time. The dialogue is an honest response to the situation, full of all the life and emotion of the character’s soul.

With respect to Happy Calories Don’t Count and alignment, there are also things you must know and practice. You must know what you really think and feel and believe about different foods. You must know how they make you feel physically after you eat them. You must know what you really think and feel and believe about certain types of exercise – and how it makes you feel physically. You must practice connecting with your body and listening to its wisdom. You must learn how to soften contradictory energy, so that your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions are as congruent as they can possibly be. And then, like the actor, you must let it all go to become fully present in the moment. When you are in alignment, you can be free to trust your impulses and your choices.

Some actors are “naturals” with very little training. But most put time and effort into learning and honing their skills. Likewise, it takes time practice to learn the art of alignment. But with patience and persistence, you can learn to align your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions so they are congruent, and you can learn to trust the inspiration that come forth. You will know what to eat and how much. You will know what to do for exercise. Anything and everything that might be required of you to achieve your weight-loss goals will seem effortless and natural.

Shakespeare was right. You are an actor on the word’s stage. And from a place of alignment – from living an authentic expression of your deepest self – you give an inspired performance.