Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 8 – Love Yourself!

breath-of-life

“This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF.”
- Kamal Ravikant

“As you love yourself, life loves you back.  I don’t think it has a choice either.  I can’t explain how it works, but I know it to be true.”
- Kamal Ravikant

I am going to be 41 this August. I only learned how important it is to love myself around the time I was about 37 or later (I say ‘learned’ but I think it is more a case of ‘remembered’ because I feel as children we intuitively know and understand the importance of loving ourselves). Can you imagine that!? I had all this family and all this education and what not, but something as important as this, I only figured out relatively recently. And the thing is, because I had lived in ignorance for so long, I had long been practising the opposite of loving myself for so long… and I had some strong momentum going in that direction. But hey, I’m not complaining! No Sir! I think I am pretty damned lucky if you ask me. At least I know now and I have time to do something about it.

‘So what’s the big deal with loving yourself?’ you ask. Well I’ll tell you – as best as I know. First off, since this post is part of a series on happiness, I will point out that it is near enough impossible to be happy if you don’t love yourself. Think about it, we are pretty much joined at the hip to ourselves from the time we are born to the time we die, so there is no way we can ever unfriend or get rid of ourselves : ) Now just imagine how much fun we’re going to have in life if we are so closely attached to and followed by ‘someone’ who doesn’t love and approve of us. Yeah, not much right? So we can choose to either be our own best friend or our own worst enemy and if we want to be happy, then we have to go with the first option.

But it gets even more serious. If like me you believe that our ‘inner world’ creates our ‘outer world’ then if we don’t love ourselves, life is only going to reflect this back to us – in the form of illness, poverty, anger, depression, relationships that hurt and upset us and so on. And speaking of relationships, could we ever stand a chance of loving someone else, if we don’t really love ourselves? Probably not, right?

And here”s the scary part – I don’t think we need to actually loathe who we are for it to cause us problems in life. I think just neglecting to love ourselves – i.e. ‘forgetting’ or not giving it enough time and attention is bad enough. Like any relationship, our relationships with ourselves needs time, attention, nurturing and love in order to function and thrive. Anything less and we will no longer have a ‘healthy’ relationship and we all now know how much of an effect that can have on our lives.

I would like to illustrate the point by introducing you to my friend Kamal Ravikant. Kamal is someone who has had first-hand experience of  going from neglecting to love himself  to learning to love himself in a way that it transformed his life. In fact, his friends we so amazed at the transformation they saw in him that they twisted his arm to share his ‘secret’ with them. And when he did, they twisted his arm a little more to write about it. This is how Kamal’s book ‘Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It’ came to be.

In his book, Kamal shares his experience of being at a point in his life which he describes as being ‘rock bottom’ – his health had deteriorated, his business was failing and he was badly in debt. He says that during this time, a day of feeling depressed would have been a ‘good day’ because he felt much worse most of the time. He would lie in bed all day with the blinds shut. And then, one day, he made a wow to himself. He actually stumbled out of bed to write it down and the wow is encapsulated in this quote from his book “This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF.”

After he made this wow to himself, Kamal started doing some things on a daily basis to help himself to keep this wow. One of the things he did was to affirm or keep thinking to himself “I love myself”. Over and over again. At every opportunity. When ever he remembered. He would just say it in his mind: “I love myself”.

In addition to the above, Kamal began to meditate daily. He also learned to measure his decisions and choices on the basis of whether they would be in agreement with his wow or not.

Kamal describes how his health slowly improved. He then began feeling good about himself and about life. And then, he noticed something else – something he didn’t expect: his external life and circumstances also began to improve. He came across new business opportunities. His finances improved. And on it went, getting better and better. He describes how his life was transformed within a month!

You can listen to Kamal describing his experience in his own words …

I hope that you now get a sense of how important it is to love yourself. I should probably point out that this is one truth that keeps coming back to me over and over again. Whether I am reading Louise Hay, Kamal Ravikant or Abraham and Hicks, it keeps coming up.

So now that we have looked at the importance of loving ourselves and shared in Kamal’s journey, you might ask, ‘how does one go about loving themselves?’ As you can appreciate, loving yourself could mean different things to different people, so I can only share what I have learned and done. With that said, here goes:

  • Love and Accept yourself - Stop comparing yourself to others unfavourably. Learn to see and appreciate your own strengths and beauty. It’s ok to still admire and appreciate others, but let it end there. No comparing!
  • Make time for yourself – It is all too easy to overlook this, especially when you are taught to put others and ‘important’ things like work before yourself. But this is YOUR life and it is YOUR happiness at stake, so you MUST take time for yourself to do the things you want to do. Period.
  • Take care of yourself  - Eat sensibly, exercise, get plenty of rest. Take naps. Take long, slow walks. Nurture yourself. Chill out and just be. You get it. You shouldn’t need to end up in hospital or worse in order to learn to take care of yourself.
  • Be easy on yourself – Stop beating yourself up about ‘mistakes’ of the past (There are no mistakes. If you’re still here, then you learned and know better for next time, so it wasn’t any kind of waste.).
  • Let go of anger and resentment – It has been said that “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” There seems to be some confusion as to who actually said this (some say it was the Buddha) but there is no disputing the truth of this statement – at least in my eyes. Do yourself a favour and move on. Don’t even hand the job over to ‘Karma’. Just write it all off if you can – spit out the poison – and move on.
  • Only spend time around those people who love, resect and value you for who you are – If people put you down and make you feel small, stop hanging around them. There are over 7 Billion people – for goodness sake find some nice ones to be around!!!
  • Find work that you love and do that – This quote from Neale Donald Walsch nails it – ” Go ahead and do what you really love to do! Do nothing else! You have so little time. How can you think of wasting a moment doing something for a living you don’t like to do? What kind of a living is that? That is not a living, that is a dying!”

This is pretty much all I could think of for now. But I’m sure you will be able to think of ways that you can love yourself. It’s the best job in the world and you are best candidate for it, so go do it now!

Related posts:

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – How I Learned to Be Happier, More of the Time

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Defining Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 1 – Taking Responsibility for Your Happiness

 Concessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 2 – Staying Committed to Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 3 – Thinking Positive and a Tale of 2 Frogs

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 4 – Stop Complaining!

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 5 – Practising Gratitude and Appreciation Daily

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 6 – Being Selective about What We Give Our Attention to

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 7 – Spend Time Around Happy People

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 7 – Spend Time Around Happy People

happycompany

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
- Jim Rohn

OK, if you go by the quote, then right now, I’m a happy little girl… well a happy girl mostly…  (and as the comedian Jeff Dunham said in one of his stand-up shows “I am growing a uterus as we speak”).

But you get the point – Happiness is infectious and hanging around happy people helps me stay happy. It’s as simple as that!

I could have ended this post right here, but I chose not to, because I know that the converse is true also. And I know from my own struggles that this is where people might need a little bit of help. So now for the other ‘half’ of this post!

This post could just as easily been titled ‘Stay Away from Negative People’. But I don’t think it is helpful to label people (as ‘negative’ etc.) and condemn them in this way. I have found that this alone can make me feel bad as it usually brings some sort of resentment into the picture (and into my mind). If I ever find myself in such situations, I try to remember Louise Hay’s words that “Everyone is doing the best with what they know” (I apply this to myself as well, so I don’t beat up on myself). I also remind myself that I too can be a downright grumpus (or even aggressive) at times. In fact, when I do find myself stressed or angry, I do my best to take time out and regain my balance before I take myself back into a situation with people I care about (or with the people I have had an issue with). I don’t feel a need to argue anymore and have found that it doesn’t really help. I will often let someone know how I feel and apologise if I feel I want to and leave it at that.

There have been times when I have felt like I needed all the help I could get to find peace, clarity and good-feeling thoughts. At times like these, I have found that it is best to separate myself from anyone who can draw me into patterns of unhelpful thinking. I call this ‘loving from a distance’ – because I still love the person, but I maintain my distance in order to help myself.

Since I have chosen to believe in the Law of Attraction and it operates on the principle that ‘like attracts like’ I now feel that a) I will mostly attract happy people into my life and b) that even when I interact with others who are not happy in their disposition, if I am happy at that time, then I will bring out the happiness in them for the time that we are together.

So what I am trying to get at here is that when you are struggling to find happy thoughts or focus on the good in  your life,  it is best to keep away from anyone who might not be helpful in this endeavour. But when you are feeling balanced and stable in your happy happy frame of mind, then it will be easier to interact with someone who isn’t quite as happy and still enjoy the interaction. Of course, as I have explained (and experienced), this will not work if you still hang on to the judgement and resentment while you interact with them.

If you feel guilty about keeping your distance, please remember that “you can’t give to another, what you don’t have” (Abraham) and so, you will not be able to be uplift anyone else, when you are down in the doldrums yourself. Whereas, if you take the time to help yourself, then you will be in a much stronger position to be loving and supportive to the other person. So avoiding them for the short-term is an act of kindness to both yourself and the other and there is no need for guilt.

Related posts:

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – How I Learned to Be Happier, More of the Time

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Defining Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 1 – Taking Responsibility for Your Happiness

 Concessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 2 – Staying Committed to Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 3 – Thinking Positive and a Tale of 2 Frogs

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 4 – Stop Complaining!

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 5 – Practising Gratitude and Appreciation Daily

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 6 – Being Selective about What We Give Our Attention to

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 6 – Being Selective about What We Give Our Attention to

superkid

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

The simple things – things that are right under our very noses are often the things we can so easily overlook in life. The idea of being selective about what we give our attention to is one such thing.

We have all, at some time or the other, listened to a song or watched a movie that either caused us to feel light and joyful or moved us to sadness and tears. In this way, we have all had personal experience of having our mood changed or influenced by something that we chose to give our attention to. So, it would be easy to conclude that there’s no great mystery here and that we all know and understand how this idea applies to our lives.

Yet, I have learned to my cost, that it could be all too easy to lose sight of this truth! I have also learned that it is far too easy to be swept away by the ideas and information presented by others and by our own unhelpful thoughts.

We live in an age where we have access to so much information and ideas – songs, novels, magazines, books, newspapers, television, movies, websites, blogs, forums, chat-groups… so many things that most of us are ‘plugged into’ on a daily basis. Yet, how many times to do stop to think – this thing I am about to give my attention to… how will it make me feel?

When we routinely watch, read or listen to news that says the world is a dangerous place and that crime abounds; we are led to be almost fearful and suspicious of strangers. We are often left wondering when the next ‘big thing’ (natural disaster, terrorist attack, or school shooting etc) would strike and so on.

Similarly, through a lot of the ‘movies, music and ‘entertainment’ out there, we are constantly bombarded with ideas like: life is a struggle; life is a competition where it is the fittest who will survive; happiness and prosperity will come only to a select few, humans are inherently selfish and dangerous by nature; and revenge is sweet. And we consume all this without questioning the truth and validity of these ideas or how it will affect us.

A lot of these things present a similar theme – a negative worldview and view of life. They lead us to buy into a certain type of reality – leaving out a huge range of other possibilities. And if we continue to give our attention to things that are similar in theme or nature, then our entire outlook is soon going to be coloured by those things. This is easily demonstrated through a simple analogy: If we took a glass full of clean water and added a drop of black ink, it will change the colour of the water ever so slightly. If we add a few more drops, it will darken the water to the point that it is no longer clear. If we keep adding more drops of ink, the water will eventually become as dark as the ink.

The same is true of our own thoughts – when we are not being influenced by others. If you are anything like me, you might agree that often it seems as though the thoughts appear out of nowhere and that I have no control over what I think. I have now come to realise that this is not necessarily true. With a little bit of practice and effort, I can now be more selective of what I think about and how I think about any subject. And the great thing is, the way I feel will aways let me know if I am thinking in ways that are helpful to me or not (because I always feel bad when I think in a way that doesn’t serve me).

The really good news about all of this is that we are all free to select what we give our attention to. We are also free to determine the subjects we think about and the way in which we will approach them. So our happiness is always within our control.

If we care enough about our happiness, then we can easily become more selective about what we read, what we watch, what we listen to and what we talk about with others. Similarly, we can also be more discerning about what we think and how we think about these things.

Earlier on in this series, I wrote about positive thinking and about practising gratitude and appreciation and the role they play in our day to day happiness. In many ways, these things are simply different ways of being selective about what we give our attention to. With thinking positive, it is a case of choosing to see all the good in any situation. And with gratitude and appreciation, we choose to take note of all the good and pleasing aspects of our lives on a daily basis.

From what I have read and experienced over the years I have learned that happiness is our natural state of being and that it is largely the things we think about and give our attention to that rob us of our happiness. Therefore, in order to reclaim our happiness, it would help in leaps and bounds if we stopped feeding our minds with information that poisons us little by little, on a daily basis. I can honestly say that I have become much happier as a person after giving up the ‘mind-poisons’ that I used to consume so freely (and often paid good money for).

I have chosen to believe that I create my own reality and therefore these things no longer have any hold over me (perhaps the subject of another post for another day?).

If you are concerned that by being selective, you will in effect be ‘ignoring reality’, please remember that the news and popular media (and our own thoughts at times) do not necessarily represent all of possibility and therefore all of reality. For example, there may be countless acts of kindness practised by people all over the world that are not covered by the news. Just because these things are not being covered by the news, does it then mean that they are not part of ‘reality’?

Please also remember what Einstein said: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. This means that holding on to the news media’s version of the problematic world by taking a daily dose of it wont necessarily help you solve any of these problems. Whereas, if you took your eyes (and your mind) off of these things for long enough, you may well find solutions to help make things better. Even if you didn’t, you will probably end up feeling happier as a result and one more happy person is definitely going to make the world a better place!

Related posts:

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – How I Learned to Be Happier, More of the Time

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Defining Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 1 – Taking Responsibility for Your Happiness

 Concessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 2 – Staying Committed to Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 3 – Thinking Positive and a Tale of 2 Frogs

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 4 – Stop Complaining!

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 5 – Practising Gratitude and Appreciation Daily

 

 

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 5 – Practising Gratitude and Appreciation Daily

thank-you

“I live in the space of thankfulness – and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more grateful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships and even money flowed my way when I learnt to be thankful no matter what happened in my life.”
- Oprah Winfrey

Gratitude. I thought I knew it. I thought I practised it – I was polite and said my thank you’s. And, because I thought I knew and practised it, I felt that life should be handing me a lot more ‘goodies’  than I was getting. And thinking in this way made me unhappy. Yes, I had it all wrong! My earlier understanding of gratitude is probably a good description of how not to practice gratitude : )

So here’s my take on gratitude now. First off, saying ‘thank you’ when someone does something nice is not necessarily gratitude. It could be more a case of good manners. With gratitude, it’s more about how you feel than what you say or do. It is also about feeling this way when you don’t even know who to thank. Gratitude is a way of living and being and not something you do just for a short few seconds on and off.

Another thing I failed to realise through all those years was that I had so much to be thankful for and I was not even noticing these things… they were always there and so, didn’t really jump out at me, but once I began to look, they were EVERYWHERE!

But here’s the really important thing: gratitude is a life-changer. It really has been for me. I didn’t really understand what other people meant when they wrote or spoke about gratitude being a life-changer. It was only after I had been practising gratitude on a daily basis for a few months that I finally ‘got’ what it was all about. I am by no means done. I am only just getting started. But what I have gained out of practising gratitude is HUGE compared to the time and the energy I have put in. It truly is life-changing. There is no better way to describe it.

I only started out learning about gratitude and how to apply it to daily life because I learned about the Law of Attraction (“that which is like unto itself is drawn”) and I saw it as a way to get more of life’s goodies. Yes, my motivation was ‘mercenary’ at that point. But what I have found is that, while it is entirely true that when you learn to give thanks for what you have, you end up receiving more things to be thankful for, that is now just a sort of ‘by product’ for me. This is because, I found that when practising gratitude consistently and really feeling the emotion, it just made me feel so good and happy inside –  where I already was. I didn’t necessarily need more goodies. I was already feeling happy and satisfied. That to me was the biggest lesson in all of this.

Since I first learned about the role that gratitude plays in happiness and in creating a life filled with more of what you want, I have been led to a few other ideas relating to gratitude that I would like to share with you. These ideas helped me get even clearer about what gratitude really is and how I could apply it to my life in a more effective way. I came to this new understanding through listening and reading to the teachings of Abraham (Abraham and Hicks) and here are some of the things I learned:

  • Gratitude is not necessarily about feeling indebted and carrying a burden of any sort.
  • Gratitude is not about living in fear that what you have will be taken from you if you don’t give thanks for it (although this could happen).
  • Gratitude is not about putting yourself in the place of others who don’t have what you do (although you could, if you wanted to).
  • Gratitude is not about holding on to the struggles that you have been through in order to get what you now have
  • Gratitude is not about killing desire for new or improved conditions (it is okay to want more, but not in a way that it makes you feel discomfort at not having it right now).
  • Gratitude is mostly about actively looking for and taking note of all the things you now have that serve you and feel good to you
  • You can be happy where you are and still be eager (not anxious) for the good things that are yet to come to you

For the above reasons, Abraham prefers to use the word ‘appreciation’ over gratitude and based on my current understanding (including all those things that gratitude is ‘not’) it makes sense to me. Therefore, gratitude and appreciation have now come to mean the same thing to me.

So how does one ‘practice’ gratitude? I’ll tell you how I did it – I started out just writing 10 things that I was thankful for every night before I went to bed (Rhonda Byrne’s book ‘The Magic’ really helped me get started). I started out with things that had happened on that day, but the list slowly grew to include things like my good health and family and so on (It doesn’t really matter if some of the same things come up day after day). After a while, it became easy for me to list way more than 10 things and so I did. In time, I came to notice so many other things to be thankful for and it just gained a momentum of its own. For instance, when I walk down my neighbourhood, I now notice all the beautiful houses and gardens I pass, I realise how safe and clean it is and so on. When I eat, I really enjoy my food now. When I turn on a tap, I realise how wonderful it is to have running water… and on it goes…

This way of seeing things has slowly become ‘my usual way’ of seeing things. It’s almost like I was living in black and white could suddenly see in full colour. The change wasn’t that quick or as dramatic, but looking back, this is what it has been, in effect.

In many ways, giving thanks and appreciating the good in my life has been like exercising regularly. Yes, you ‘do it’ and you feel something at the time, but you also become conditioned and trained so that you enjoy its benefits even when you are not ‘doing’ it and it just becomes a way of living.

So there you have it: gratitude – a life-changer of a habit and a sure-fire way to bring more happiness into your life.

I’ve put together a simple ‘gratitude journal’ to help you on your way. You need to download it and then print it out.

You can download it by clicking here (opens a new page) and then going to ‘file’ and ‘download’. It may take a few moments, so please allow some time.
You will need Adobe Reader in order to view or print the file. You can get Adobe Reader by clicking here.

Related posts:

Gratitude: The Simple Path to Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – How I Learned to Be Happier, More of the Time

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Defining Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 1 – Taking Responsibility for Your Happiness

 Concessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 2 – Staying Committed to Happiness

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 3 – Thinking Positive and a Tale of 2 Frogs

Confessions of a Happiness Addict – Step 4 – Stop Complaining!

 

Happy by Pharrell Williams

OK, I’m simply hooked on this song! So clap along if you feel like a room without a roof…

Don’t forget to check out the 24 hour version here: 24 Hours of Happy