I've been thinking about what makes a person happy. We all know that love is important to everyone, that it's important to have people you love in your life, and people who love you. But there's another aspect to love that often isn't talked about, and it's that aspect that my whole life's message revolves around.
What really makes us happy? Loving others and being loved actually isn't the root of happiness. Neither is being successful, neither is being confident, neither is knowing your dream. Neither is money. The root of happiness, I believe, is love for yourself.
But what does that mean???
I believe loving yourself is simply having compassion for yourself. It means understanding that you are a human being with feelings and emotions and ups and downs. It means letting yourself be you and not judging yourself incessantly. It means seeing yourself as you would a child - giving yourself space to learn and grow without the constant judging chatter in the background.
We spend so much time judging ourselves. We don't judge the ones we love nearly as harshly as we judge ourselves. We punish ourselves over and over and over again for the same "crimes," replaying harsh, humiliating, and self-mutilating comments over and over and over in our heads. Yes, self mutilating. That is what we do to our psyches. We make ourselves feel terrible all the time. And worse, we've been taught by society (and religion) that that's good.
None of the enlightened beings who have walked this planet have ever condoned that kind of judgment. In fact, the message from them has always been the opposite. The whole doctrine of redemption in Christianity is based on the idea that Jesus "paid" the price once and for all. Whether you are Christian or not is beside the point - the point is that we don't need to punish ourselves over and over and over for a single action, or thought, or word, and yet we continue to do it.
"Love thy neighbor as thyself." Unfortunately, we tend to read that as meaning we love ourselves and so we should love our neighbors accordingly. But it's the opposite, really. If we truly loved ourselves, we would never need to be reminded to love our neighbors, because when we love ourselves we naturally love everything else in our lives. The point here isn't to love our neightbors, the point is to love ourselves. We don't love ourselves, and so we don't love anything else around us. We judge ourselves, and so we judge everything around us. And blame. And make ourselves victims. And miserable.
The key to happiness is compassion for ourselves. When we have compassion for ourselves, we fall in love with the world. All of it. We are able to accept situations as they come to us, trusting that life is good. When we have compassion for ourselves, we are more open to our own success, because the confidence we have in ourselves and in life is true confidence, not a put-on facade we show the world and take off when we get home. When we have compassion for ourselves, we no longer take things personally, and our compassion for ourselves becomes compassion for all around us, and we attract more and more and more love into our lives.
We are born with ourselves and we die with ourselves, and we spend most of the time in between hating ourselves. In what reality does that make sense? How can that be right? In order to truly love and be loved, we need to first love ourselves. We do that in baby steps, and we start by easing up on the self talk, by forgiving ourselves for our little mistakes and our big ones, and by acknowledging that we are human and beautiful and are here to learn. "Love thy neighbor as thyself." You are beautiful.