In a world where self-hatred is a multibillion-dollar industry, loving yourself is a revolutionary act. Choosing to disconnect from the messaging that tells us we can never be too thin, white, or wealthy can completely change our lives.
Best of all, by making the decision to live as your fully embodied, entirely realized, unapologetic self, you embolden others to do the same. You let other people know that it’s safe for them to be who they really are. You don’t even know how massive a change this can be. By living as your whole self, you can literally tear the fabric of reality and create a new paradigm for yourself and the people around you.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” —Rumi
How do we move this theory out of the intellectual and into the practical? It’s easier than we think. You don’t need to move to Bali and meditate on the meaning of life every day! You can learn to love yourself in the suburbs in Australia, on the gritty streets of New York City, or on a farm in Belgium. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Stop running away from your feelings.
Many of us use sugar, alcohol, drugs, television, or compulsive shopping to suppress any unpleasant emotions that we experience. It works for a little while — there’s no denying that the high from sipping hot chocolate or purchasing a new pair of kicks can be thrilling.
But eventually, this temporary ecstasy fades, and we’re left alone with our feelings again. After all, whatever we resist persists. Those uncomfortable feelings will keep cropping up until we finally take a deep breath and deal with ’em.
Next time you start to experience the tingling of an unpleasant feeling, pause before indulging in your vice of choice (whether it’s eating a piece of candy, browsing through a gossip magazine, or shopping online).
It only takes a second to disrupt those old habits that don’t serve us. Instead, allow your feelings to wash over you. Rather than denying and repressing how you feel, say “yes” in your mind. Surrender to the emotion. This simple act can be massively powerful: when you no longer hide from your feelings and instead greet them at the door, they are much less frightening.
Now play detective with your feelings. Use your intuition and memory to dig out the root cause of your discomfort. Here’s a hint: most discomfort or pain is a result of fear. What are you really afraid of? Once you know the answer to that, you can look at the situations in your past that echoed this experience.
For example, perhaps you feel jealous when your lover talks to other women. What is the root of your jealousy? It might be a fear that you’re not good enough or that your lover is going to reject you. If this is your fear, it’s likely that you’ve experienced rejection or the feeling of not being good enough in your past.
Knowledge is power. Once you know the root of your feelings, you can deal with them. I love tapping for dismantling old, limiting beliefs and taking the sting out of a story. You could also try journaling, talk therapy, hypnosis, or simply having a frank conversation with your partner about why you feel the way you do.
2. Burn your fears.
An incredibly cathartic way to release negative feelings or obsessive thoughts is to literally set them on fire. In pride of place on my hot pink altar sits a miniature cauldron — I call it my “travel cauldron”— since I have taken it all over the world with me. I buy magic paper which sparkles and sizzles as it burns, tear it into small strips and write down the things I want to release. Then I crumple them up, drop them into my cauldron, and set ’em alight. There’s something primal and wonderful about watching your fears literally go up in smoke.
3. Keep your best qualities on file.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to forget a compliment? On the other hand, that critique you got in 1992 still echoes in your head today. So frustrating, right? It’s not your fault: we all have a negativity bias that makes the insults stick out while the praise shrinks into the background. Oh, humans. We’re so complicated!
You can get around it, though. When you’re just getting started with radical self-love, it can be hard to see yourself as the magnificent, cosmic miracle you are. Sometimes it’s easier to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.
I want you to start keeping a list of the compliments you receive, and keep the list where you’ll see it every day. Read them aloud to yourself as often as you can. With a little time, you’ll start to believe the beautiful things other people say about you, and you’ll be able to accept them gracefully.
4. Stop putting off your passions.
Your time on this incredible planet is unbelievably limited. You are going to die one day, and nobody knows how much longer they have. Why waste your time doing things that you don’t care about?
You absolutely must carve out time to do the things that light you up from the inside and make your heart chirp like a baby bird. No one else is going to help you make time for these things. Guard your schedule aggressively and make space to write, or dance, or invent, or whatever it is you adore.
Here’s the truth: nothing will make you feel better than working on something meaningful. Pouring energy into your passions makes you vibrate at a higher frequency, and it is so life-affirming. When’s the last time you spoke to someone who was truly passionate about something? Didn’t it make you feel alive? Make it one of your goals to become one of those people.
5. Count your blessings.
There’s a lot of chat about the importance of gratitude. It can seem like it couldn’t possibly be that easy to be happy, so we overlook it. Ultimately, it’s just like anything in life: You can only infer so much from thinking about something. Transformation occurs when we actually TRY things.
If you’re unable to appreciate what you have now, it doesn’t matter what happens to you in the future: it will never be enough. Cultivating a daily gratitude practice helps you to be in the moment and to see the joy in everything. I’m on Periscope every Monday to Friday at 12.30 p.m. Eastern talking about the things I’m grateful for and inviting my audience to do the same. It’s an awesome ritual to help you become a stronger, happier, and more resilient person.
You could also rope your family and friends into it! Every morning and evening, ask the people you’re with to list the five things they’re most thankful for. Encourage them to be specific. “Having a job” is generic gratitude, but “The coffee shop was playing Al Green this morning” is deep gratitude. That means you have to really think about it. The benefits of being specific are massive and to be encouraged. This extremely simple practice can truly change your life. Try it and see for yourself!
There are so many ways to fall in love with your life — these barely scratch the surface.
Social media has completely transformed the experience of travel. Not just because dodging selfie sticks makes navigating tourist attractions harder but because tourists no longer even look at the monuments, piazzas, or works of art anymore. Instead, they turn their backs and look at themselves on a screen.
The experience of art and history has been replaced with the experience of a digital representation of those things. We spend more time thinking about how other people will perceive our adventures than actually having them.
These days, the urge to check social media is stronger than the urge for sex. Both are driven by a need to connect. After food and shelter, our need to belong and feel positively connected to others is arguably the number one predictor of well-being, happiness, health, and even longevity.
Trying to connect in this way, though, is actually counterproductive. Here are three ways virtual connection is ruining your real-life relationships:
1. You’ve lost the moment.
What are you doing on social media? Sharing moments. Moments of joy, of friendship, humor, and beauty. Ironically, by engaging with social media, you lose the moment. In your quest to connect virtually, you disconnect from your reality and the people in it.
You lose the experience of happiness in the process of trying to refine your smile for public consumption. Your attachment to positive reinforcement through likes and comments will keep you detached.
We’re happiest when our mind is in the present moment — not when it’s wandering off somewhere. Truly savoring a positive experience — i.e., immersing yourself fully it — enhances the experience and the happiness you derive from that experience. When you pull out that selfie stick, you’ve lost it. You’ve effectively pressed pause on the moment you are about to celebrate virtually.
2. It’s addictive and self-absorbing.
Instead of deriving pleasure from your experience and the people around you, you seek it (along with validation) from your phone. Your brain’s pleasure centers also respond positively to novelty, which social media offers in a constant stream of new interactions, new posts, and new pictures every second.
Ironically, a tool to connect you with others makes you feel you isolated and obsessed over the appearance you’re making, the responses you’re getting, the impressions you are giving (Was what I wrote OK? How come there aren’t more likes?). Authentically connecting with others has numerous benefits. Self-focus, on the other hand, is associated with anxiety and depression.
Instead of deriving pleasure from your vacation, your device becomes your main source of pleasure. Unwittingly, however, it makes you less connected and more narcissistic. With that comes a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows caused by obsessive attention-seeking.
3. It’s actually harmful to relationships.
One study showed that the mere presence of a cellphone when two people are talking interferes with feelings of closeness, connection, and communication. We are profoundly social creatures wired to connect with others. We are exquisitely fine-tuned to understand people by internalizing the minutest changes in their body language and faces.
We automatically mirror and mimic these movements, creating a sense of understanding toward the feelings of others. This is why you cringe when you see someone fall on the street or why you feel sad when you see someone’s eyes filling with tears.
If devices constantly interfere with your conversations, you undermine your ability to connect with others. You miss the flicker of emotion in your child’s eye, the look of exasperation in your partner, or the attempt of a friend to share something meaningful with you. In theory, social media is meant to connect us, but in reality, it acts as a barrier.
It’s fairly simple: Our impulse to broadcast our lives makes us miss out on them. So for your next vacation, leave your selfie stick at home, take your social media apps off your smartphone, and lose yourself in the travel experience. You might actually do something worth writing home about.