May 9, 2009

Love yourself, and love others

I don't know if it was the Dalai Lama that said it, but I couldn't find the quote on Google so I'll just paraphrase:

To love others, you must first love yourself.
Think about that. Pause. Okay.

I've slowly come to the realization that there's no other way to love than by loving yourself. It falls in line with the idea that your positivity radiates to those around you. When you appreciate yourself, knowing that you're doing what you think is right, knowing that you're doing what you want to do, you shed that layer of insecurity that surrounds so many of us, and you can look at others with a clearer mind and appreciate them and what they have to offer to the world the same way you appreciate yourself.

There's a difference between narcissism and self-love. Narcissism refers to the superficial appreciation of oneself (i.e. "I love myself because I look damn good today"). Self-love is a true appreciation for what you do. For example, I love myself because what I eat treats my body well. I love myself because I take care of myself in the sense that I make a conscious effort to keep myself educated with academics and current events. I love myself because I do what I can to help those around me whether it be through direct contact or through this blog. I love myself because I surround myself with amazing individuals each of whom offer so much to my life. I love myself because I always have a reason to smile (refer to the four reasons listed above).

Because of this love for myself, I find it a lot easier to see the light in the character of each of the individuals around me. I know each person has his or her own flaws, but I think we stop at the flaws too often and don't really take the opportunity to find the positives because we're so wrapped up in the negatives. When you love yourself, you know you have flaws, but you look passed those and learn to appreciate yourself for what you do have going for you. That mentality essentially trains you to do the same when interacting with other people you meet. You love them after realizing that everyone is flawed.

Try this exercise: during the next week, keep a little notebook on you. Whenever you do something that you look back at and react happily like, "Huh. That was pretty great," write it down. Keep a little log of these things, and after the week. Write anywhere from one to five general reasons you have to love yourself. Remind yourself of these and smile a bit more. If you're ambitious, keep that list with you. Post it up on your wall. Do whatever you need to to remind yourself of why you should be loving yourself and maybe, just maybe, you'll stay to love the people around you a little bit more.

Love (or at least try to),

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