What was #1? Read about it here.
I call this the #2 shortcut because it takes longer than the gratitude habit. It will have a deeper effect on your satisfaction and enjoyment of life, though, so it’s worth developing. It’s deceptively simple: be nice to yourself.
I was reminded of this important habit by a post on Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits, yesterday. The crux of the post was
You’re already good enough, you already have more than enough, and you’re already perfect…
Also, as corny as it may sound, I love you, completely and unconditionally, and if everyone else in your world betrays and abandons you, you always have me. 🙂
…Whoa! I’m perfect?! That’s demonstrably untrue.
Well, let’s not get all mathematical, ok? What he means is you’re the perfect you, and you don’t need to be anything else, even if other people say you should. That much is certainly true.
What about “you’re already good enough”? This is the main thing I mean when I say be nice to yourself. It’s easier for some people than others. Not liking yourself much and being a perfectionist are the two worst obstacles. But if I can do it, anyone can. It ties in with “I love you, completely and unconditionally.” Ideally, that’s how you feel about yourself. If you don’t yet, here’s how to get there.
Quit beating yourself up
Take a look at the things you’re saying to yourself in your head. Then think about whether you’d stand by and let someone say things like that to your best friend. If not, dispute them. It may sound crazy, but I seriously want you to argue with the mean version of yourself in your head. Say what you would say to the mean jerk who said this sort of thing to your best friend. (Ex. “I can’t believe I screwed that up! I’m so stupid! I’ll never get anything right!” — “Hey, knock it off. [Me] screws up sometimes, but she’s doing the best she can. Give her a break.”)
I won’t lie to you, when I was first told to do this, I thought it was kind of stupid, not to mention crazy, but I tried it anyway. What the heck, I already had Wimpy Victim Me and Mean Taskmaster Me, so I might as well add Advocate Me—then at least 2/3 of us would be nice! Once it became a habit, I found the mean one spoke up less and less. Rock on!
Take care of yourself
If you get enough rest and eat well, it is much easier to cope with everything, including falling short of your own hopes or expectations for yourself. It’s also easier to achieve what you want. I used to put myself last, not taking sick days unless I was on death’s door; waiting for others’ convenience to eat, even if I was really hungry; putting my sleep at a lower priority than other people’s comfort; even delaying trips to the bathroom if it seemed awkward to a conversation or I was in the middle of something else. If you do these things, it’s important to realize that’s not a healthy way to behave. You’re just as worthy as everyone else. Meet your basic needs! You’ll be better for yourself and for anyone you want to help.
I’m an introvert, so for me, this also means making sure to get enough solitude. It’s hard to believe how crucial this is, but when I don’t get enough, I am terminally grumpy, easily overwhelmed, and perpetually exhausted. If it goes on too long, I get downright surly and hateful. That’s not the real me, but it sure feels real, and it’s been the downfall of many relationships. It’s serious business. If you’re an introvert, make solitude one of your highest priorities. It’s right up there with food and sleep. You’re not weird or bad for needing to be away from other people, it’s how you’re built if you’re an introvert.
Do the good stuff
If something cool is going on, do it, unless you have a good reason not to. For instance, full-size replicas of the Nina and Pinta are visiting my town until Oct. 4. I have a lot of stuff going on, but I stopped by to see them Sunday night, and I want to make sure I take the full tour before they leave. Seeing and doing new things is a great way to expand your mind and feel alive!
On the other hand, please note the “unless you have a good reason not to.” If you think about what you really want right now, and the answer is clearly to spend the afternoon on the couch with your kitty cat, do that! You can’t possibly do everything, so do what you want most first, and don’t beat yourself up about the stuff you miss.
Being nice to yourself may take some practice, but it can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your life. Be patient with yourself, and do it! If you start feeling down, just remember, Leo will always love you. 😉