Be kind to others, but also to yourself!
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself (Rubin, 2015, p. 352).
Research suggests that cultivating your own joy and happiness has benefits not just for you, but also for others in your life. When we are able to move beyond our own pain and suffering, we are more available to others; pain causes us to be extremely self-focused. Whether the pain is physical or mental, it seems to consume all of our focus and leave very little attention for others (Dalai Lama, TuTu, & Abrams, 2016, p. 62).
If you have depression, it may be hard for you to “be happy.” If you have experienced abuse, sometimes it may be hard for you to know your own worth, to value yourself, or to take good care of yourself. You may not know how to set healthy boundaries, to protect yourself or to stand up for yourself, and to live a happy life. Or your boundaries may have become too rigid—this leads to difficulty trusting other people, and to other negative effects on your relationships with others. It takes time to heal, to learn, and to improve. Seek help from a therapist and persist with treatments. In the process of treatment, be kind to yourself too! There is help, and there is hope!
Make your own recovery the first priority in your life. (Robin Norwood)
When you are healthy, happy, and physically and emotionally stable, you can give your best to others and make other people feel happy and content. So be your own lover! Find creative, interesting, or even romantic ways to make yourself smile! Pamper yourself once in a while! Have a sweet and caring relationship with yourself. This helps maintain healthy well-being.
We all have dialogues with ourselves: to think things through, to weigh the pros and cons of decisions, and to evaluate others and ourselves. But sometimes we could look too closely at ourselves and become too self-critical! People who have self-esteem issues or a history of abuse may sometimes have a very cruel view of themselves. During those times, what I would encourage people to do is to read the following affirmation and meditate on it:
I remember all the bitter thoughts that crossed my mind, words that came out of my mouth, and actions that I did. I remember all the mistakes, embarrassment, or even regrets in my life. It wouldn’t be fair if I only focus on my weaknesses though. So I deliberately think about my strengths as well. I recall all the compliments and encouragement that I have received in my life. I acknowledge my gifts and talents. I feel proud of my accomplishments. And I remember all the sincere and appreciative words and gestures that people have given me. Now, I look at both sides. I acknowledge that my strengths and weaknesses are both part of me. No one is perfect. I am imperfect. I choose to embrace both sides of me. I choose to like both sides of me. I will not let my past or my flaws hold me back—everyone is changing, including me! I forgive myself. I am able to work hard to improve myself, and I work hard to maintain those parts that I like. Even if I am sometimes too tired to do this work, I know that I am a good person, that I have value, and that I will do what I can with the energy that I have. And finally, I make peace with myself.
Remember, everyone deserves love, respect, and kindness, including yourself!
It is normal to encounter some people who dislike you, or who may treat you unkindly… if this happens, brush it off and move on. Don’t join the people who dislike you or judge you harshly. Try not to believe in words spoken by people who are embittered.
Join the people who love you dearly and sincerely!
Do not speak badly of yourself. For the warrior within hears your words and is lessened by them. (David Gemmell)
Sometimes, we can develop a distorted or perfectionistic view of our body image. As a result, we may criticize our body too much, sometimes using disrespectful or even nasty language.
Our relationship with our body is like any type of relationship: the relationship thrives not because it is completely perfect, filled with only positive interactions. There are enjoyable times, but also unpleasant times. In order to maintain a good and healthy relationship with a friend or a family member, we do need to tolerate arguments or disagreements sometimes, and focus more on what we value in the relationship or in the person.
Developing a healthy relationship with our body requires acceptance of our perceived imperfections, as well as appreciation of the parts that we like about ourselves. Treat and talk to your body as though your body were your loved one. If you have body image issues, there are many therapeutic, evidence-based exercises that can be helpful. Improvements do not happen overnight, but with time and practice, you will come to realize that you are able to love and embrace your entire body and your entire self. You may even come to realize that your perceived imperfections are just right for you.
One of the things that I recommend to any person is portrait photography in nature. Take artistic photographs of yourself! You can hire a professional photographer, or you can learn how to become a self-portrait photographer yourself.
Being the subject of a photo shoot allows us to express ourselves, generate self-awareness, learn about mindfulness, and develop self-acceptance.
Nature has wonderful healing properties!
The experience could lead to a feeling of love and gratitude for nature. The final products, which are the photographs, remind the photographer and the subjects that their work together had created these unique sets of photos. This collaboration, creation, and celebration of goodness and beauty, is the foundation of art. Reviewing the photographs can help us acquire a positive, reflective, and accepting perspective of our physical selves.
Actualize Your Potential
When you spend your time and energy putting yourself down, ruminating on your past mistakes, feeling jealous of others, envying other people’s achievements, or showing off your things, you take away your limited time and energy which would be better used to actualize your potential and to live out the purpose of your life. You are special, unique, full of wonderful gifts and talents! You don’t have to look at what other people are doing; you can focus on your own life, discover your own gifts, and strive to live up to your potential, no matter where you are on your journey now. Don’t let jealousy and envy disrupt your peace of mind. Fight to become the person whom you like.
You are precious.
You are loved.
You are enough.
Choice, not chance, determines your destiny. It’s up to you to decide what you are worth, how you matter, and how you make meaning in the world. No one else has your gifts—your sets of talents, ideas, interests. You are an original. A masterpiece. (Regina Brett)
Affirmations: I enrich my life when I ensure that I treat and communicate with myself kindly. I enrich my life when I accept and love my whole self.
Dalai Lama, Tutu, D., & Abrams, D. (2016). The book of joy: Lasting happiness in a changing world. New York, NY: Viking.
Rubin, G. (2015). The happiness project: Or why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun. New York, NY: Harper.