As Forbes reports, the majority of Americans are unhappy with their job, which means that there is an above-average chance that you are too.
And it’s not just our jobs that are making us unhappy, it’s life in general. The Huffington Post reported on a Harris Poll, revealing that only 1 in 3 Americans are ‘very happy.’
So, why the sad face?
I’ve spent most of my life (I’m currently 23) seeking out people to follow. I’ve searched far and wide for the successful leader who would make me his disciple and, in turn, make me healthy and happy. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some amazing people. Among them are Church leaders who’s persistence could make a truck driver go mad, businessmen who make a living from consulting others, and women who fight for equal rights.
The truth is, the world is filled with amazing people. We go wrong when we forget ourselves as one of them.
Recently, I sat down and thought about all the people I look up to. I don’t know about you, but that was a long list of comparison-based self-degradation. I thought of better writers than me, better speakers than me, better leaders than me, better people than me.
But here’s what I realized as I made my mental list of influencers: none of those people are looking up to anyone. Okay, maybe they admire certain qualities in people, but when all is said and done, the individuals I admire, respect, and adore are people who are satisfied with… well, themselves.
Here’s what I’m trying to say. The best thing you have to offer the world is (stick with me through the cliché) you. Every single person — think of your own list of admirable people — who is happy, successful, content, and enthusiastic about life is someone who’s learned how to stick to their side of the street. They’ve found what they’re good at, what they love, and they’ve relentlessly and unconditionally fallen in love with those self-qualities as they become truer versions of who they are.
But how do you learn to love yourself in such a self-help world?
Here’s a few ideas.
1. Value Your Opinion
Yes. What you think matters. It’s time to start sharing your opinion, even when the person you’re talking to disagrees. You’re both human beings and your opinion matters just as much as theirs. I’m not telling you to be an annoying smart-ass, but I do encourage you to stand up for what you believe in. Not only will avoiding sharing your opinion lead to inner turmoil, but it will also starve the world of an opinion — your opinion — that might just make a difference.
Start actually believing that your opinion is worth something and you’ll find you love yourself more and more.
2. Take Time to Think
Most of us, in a court of law, would be in serious trouble if we were tried against how much time we take to sit in silence and think. Unfortunately for the happiness of our society, thinking in silence is a lost art.
In fact, to force myself to think in silence, I recently just started doing Yoga classes. The two-fold benefit of physical exercise and mental meditation is difficult to pass up. If you don’t take time to yourself to think, all of the things in your life, from lost cellphones to stressful workdays, start to build up. If you don’t believe me, it’s because you haven’t taken time to yourself recently, and when you do, you’ll find you’re confronted with a lot of unfinished business.
Take a little time to yourself, the rest of us can wait.
3. Stop People-Pleasing
We live in a culture of suck-up or shut-up. Everyone we encounter, from our boss to our friends, seem to carry subtle obligations. Such as the need to laugh at their jokes, smile when they smile, and ultimately, stop being ourselves when we’re around them. Interestingly, they’re probably doing the same thing, which means that the interaction is largely artificial. Neither person is behaving according to their convictions and thus beneficial interaction is lost.
Stop trying to please others and laugh when something is funny to you, smile when you’re happy, and — still not that good at this one — cry if you need to cry.
Only once you accept who you are can you help others do the same.
That’s the amazing thing about self-perception: once you’re okay with who you are, that’s when you can finally help other people.
But until you fall in love with yourself and learn that you — with your set of unique skills, passions, and desires — are a gift to the rest of us, you’re probably going to be included in that 52%.
Thanks for reading! Best of luck with learning to love yourself.
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By Mike Blankenship