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  • Emily Bennett

The Whole Self

Updated: Jun 17

"The most attractive thing about you should have less to do with your face and body and more to do with your heart and how you treat other people." – Kandee Johnson

Aristotle once said that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" when talking about the idea of synergy or combined teamwork. We use this phrase most commonly today when talking about industries and the business environment. How each piece of machinery and each worker contributes to the overall success of a company. This being said, it doesn't always have to be about production or the workplace. The other day for instance, I heard it being used to describe a landscape.


It was said that a landscape is only as beautiful as the parts that make it up. Grass by itself is just grass. A tree by itself is just a tree. A flower, just a flower, and so on. By themselves, they are just what they are, but together- they can be magic. People are a lot like this too. They can be greater than (or in some cases less than) the sum of their parts. They can either overflow and radiate more than just what their physical appearance indicates or they can just as easily fail to measure up to it.


This being said and reflecting on others in my own life, I got to thinking. Am I greater than or less than the sum of my parts?


This question means to ask if you are the kind of person who has more to offer than just one thing. Are you all together beautiful- not just that there is a piece of you that is.


Many times we can be blinded by outer appearances or portions of a person's personality that make us completely oblivious towards the entirety of that person's nature. Someone could be incredibly funny, but inexcusably terrible to waiters, janitors, and other staff. They could be the most attractive person you have ever seen, but make fun of the less fortunate or disabled. Someone could be incredibly knowledgeable, but the most hot-headed and foul-tempered person you've ever met. The point is- people are never just one thing, but instead a combination of things. Sometimes ugly things, but focusing on just the one thing you see in them (good or bad) could be a false indicator of who they really are as a whole.


I admit that there have been many times in my own life where I have walked passed an attractive stranger and immediately assumed that they have it all together. I have associated their attractiveness to: kindness, generosity, intelligence, success and so on, without even knowing them. Looking solely at the outer appearance of these people, I would have told you, without a doubt, that they are more than the sum of their parts, but having thought about it and reflected on presence verses posture, I'm sure many of them may actually be less.


I have met many attractive people who, outwardly may seem unblemished, but internally are not. There's a quote that perfectly describes this type of person- the kind of person who is less than the sum of their parts:

"If you're pretty, you're pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving. Otherwise, its just 'congratulations about your face.'"

As I've grown older, I've learned that physical appearance- although an important identifying feature of who you are, will never be the most important thing about you. I have become obsessed rather with the idea of being known for beauty that is beneath the surface. To be the kind of person who is recognized for more than her blue eyes and blonde hair and instead, how she's helped the world and what impact she has left on those around her. I aspire to be the type of person who pays less attention to looking good and more attention to doing good. And being good. Your appearance, although apart of your whole self, never determines the quality of your being. Never. Looks will fade, but your heart and character will not.


Truthfully, I have no idea if I'm greater than or less than the sum of my parts, but I don't think it's a question anyone could answer for themselves. I also don't think it's a question that requires input from anyone other than the God who put all our parts together. All I know is this: There are more important things to be in life than "the girl with a pretty face and killer body" or "the girl who gets kissed at the bar." Be kind. Be bold. Be smart. Be funny. Be thoughtful. Be genuine. Be selfless. Be faithful.

Be who God made you to be- because He sure as hell doesn't care what you look like on the outside.

And if you do this, how can you not be greater than the sum of your parts?


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