There were times when I got all depressed when everything in my life suddenly became a lot tougher. I even came to a point where I started hating and feeling sorry for myself. There were also times when I felt like there were no more reasons to continue living.
Fortunately, those days are gone, and I no longer allow such toxic thoughts and self-blaming habits take control over my life.
It took me many years to realize that in order to be happy, I must love myself first.
It is true that in order to love others, we must learn to love ourselves first.
So whenever the negative voices in my head tell me that life is not worth living, I will tell myself these 12 things…
1. You play an important role in the lives of those who love and appreciate you.
Yes, there are people who love and appreciate me. I know who they are. They are my friends and family. My parents did not raise me for over 20 years to see me give up on life.
Life had never been easy for me when I was growing up, but I managed to change my life for the better. I have come so far to get to where I am today. Giving up is the last thing I want to do.
I am on my own now. My parents have done their job in keeping me alive, so now it is my turn to keep myself alive for as long as they live (or until fate decides to take my life away).
2. No one can ever take your place as you, and there is no need to be someone else because no matter what you achieve, or no matter how far you go in life, you will live the rest of your life as YOU.
As a child, I always wanted to be someone else.
I saw beautiful people around me and wished I could be as pretty as them.
I met so many talented people around me and wished I could be as talented as them.
But every time I look at myself in the mirror, I see no one else but me.
So no matter who I try to be, or what I have become, I will only be me and nobody else. And even when this face ages in time, I will still be able to recognize it as mine.
And as I lie on my death bed, those who love me will also recognize my face, and remember me most for the person I was to them — and not who or what I tried to be.
3. You shouldn’t fully base your happiness on others. Look deeper into yourself and you will find happiness inside of you.
This is something that I only learned a couple of years ago, specifically when I started solo traveling.
I realized that I could also be happy on my own; I do not always need other people to keep me happy.
Humans are social beings. I would be lying if I told you that I do not need friends or a love partner to keep me company sometimes. People, whether they are complete strangers or ones I already know, play important roles in my life. Their presences bring me joy and happiness. To know that I am not alone in this world makes me happy.
But that does not mean I cannot be happy when I am all alone. I can go on holiday trips by myself. I do not mind spending time alone in the woods. I do not think I must be married to someone in order to fulfill some unattainable level of happiness.
And I do not need to sacrifice my happiness just to please everybody.
4. While many people come in and out of your life, the only person who stays in your life’s journey is you.
People always come and go. I do not want to be selfish and tell them to stay with me forever.
In the end, we are all individuals — and we are the managers of our own lives. No one should decide how we should live our lives. Otherwise, we’re better off being slaves.
Life is like a journey on a train. I cried whenever the people I loved went away. Not always because they no longer wanted to be by my side anymore, but because the universe seemed to have different plans for them.
I used to not want to establish good friendships and relationships with the people I knew who were going to leave me. I didn’t want to get hurt. But ever since I started embracing the teachings of spiritual masters like the Buddha and learning about the art of letting go, my perspectives have changed.
To me, life is not just about holding on to whatever we love; it is also about living in the moment with what we love.
The good times shared with others will always remain as memories, and it won’t change the fact that I was part of them — until the end.
5. People who love themselves are tough, positive, and happy people.
When you love life, you appreciate it. When you appreciate it, you do anything to make it last.
People who want to love themselves are people who want to live, because they know life is worth living. These are the people who are usually very positive and happy in life. That doesn’t mean they are always happy, though. Just like other humans, they can also get crestfallen from time to time.
But the qualities we can learn from happy people are how they cope with the hardships of life and how they are able to stand on their feet again after life knocks them down. Of course, no one can simply force us to be happy. If we are not happy, we won’t be happy.
Happiness has to come from inside.
Only YOU can respond to YOUR surroundings and decide how YOU want to feel.
It is never another’s fault that we are unhappy.
6. You are not your material possessions.
Many people fill their lives with material things which they believe are able to give them happiness, only to realize that the happiness those things give them is temporary and ultimately unsatisfying.
Some people even get married when they don’t want to because they believe that it will add more happiness to their lives, only to realize that this too does not complete them.
We can have the best life partner anyone will ever find and still feel unhappy.
We can have an endless amount of money and still feel unhappy.
Again, happiness doesn’t come from anything outside.
7. Remember: Self-love helps you appreciate yourself.
So many people dedicate themselves to God because they believe that He is the ultimate happiness.
To love Him is simple: You just have to love HIM.
Growing up, I was told that God is inside of me.
Well, I have a different picture of God now. But I do still believe that ‘God’ is ‘inside of me’. This God is probably not the same as everybody else’s God, but whatever this God is that is inside of me, it certainly helps me to love myself better.
And because of that self-love, I’m able to appreciate the fact that I can nurture my own mental health.
8. When you love yourself, you will learn to be more independent, and you will realize that being alone does not always mean being lonely.
When I told my friends that I sometimes travel alone, I could immediately see some of them judging me.
Some, yes, think it’s cool that I do that, but some seem to think that it is rather pitiful.
- Is it wrong for a woman to do things on her own?
Being alone does not always mean being lonely. You can be surrounded by so many different people every day, or be loved by thousands of people around the world, and you can still feel lonely.
But when you start to love the person that you’re alone with, the loneliness goes away.
9. You have a best friend who never leaves you in both good and bad times: You!
Sure, we all have those special friends with whom we can talk when we need them the most. Unfortunately, they are not always there for us. We also cannot really expect them to always be there for us either.
Everybody else has their own problems, too. What do we do when there is no one to talk to?
We can talk to ourselves.
If you worry that other people might think you have blown a fuse, find a special place where you can spend time alone, and talk to yourself.
I often meet people who tell me that God speaks to them and gives them the answers to their questions. I think I understand what they mean, but I comprehend the occurrence in a different manner.
Yes, there is a voice in my head that comes straight from my heart, which I do not consider as the voice of God. I think it is the subconscious derived from my rumination.
Either way, it’s a very healing practice.
10. You can make better decisions in life when you are absolutely happy with yourself.
People often say that you should not go food shopping when you are hungry; otherwise, you will buy too much food. I say that you should not make important decisions when you are angry or sad or upset in any way or else you may end up doing something you will later regret.
When we are not happy, we have to deal with too many distractions. Every distraction is capable of influencing the way we feel and think.
It is natural to feel doubtful about how we truly feel about ourselves. Happiness is infinite. It is never perfect. But we can at least achieve the best of it that we can find.
While some people find happiness in getting married, building a family, and having stability, some are happier being single, sharing their lives with their pets, and living adventurously.
Whatever your preference is, your life decisions are very much influenced by how satisfied and happy you are about your life.
The best decisions come from a state of joy, not fear.
11. You will build more confidence and self-esteem.
I remember being the team captain of my cheerleading squad back in high school. I became a cheerleader because I was a very happy and confident girl. And being the team’s captain, it was my responsibility to stay happy and motivate the whole squad. If I was sulky and angry, the whole squad would be sulky and angry, too.
A moody cheerleader captain is like a clueless sea captain on a sinking ship:
- No one is going anywhere but down.
And it’s important to remember that you are your own cheerleading captain. You need to keep yourself motivated!
12. When you love yourself, you attract people who will also love you.
How can you love others when you don’t love yourself? That is like asking someone to take care of your child when they can’t even take care of themselves.
People enjoy the presence of those who are always happy and positive.
But being happy is both really easy and really hard. It all depends on how we react to everything around us. Let’s not forget that we are all different in our own different ways. Our differences shape the ways we respond to different surroundings and situations.
While it is easy for me to tell someone to be happy, it is not always easy for me to hear someone accusing me of being a whiner just because I am feeling down and unhappy.
Remember, it is not a crime to feel the way you feel. It is just part of being a human!
And it is up to us to fight, defend, embrace, and cherish the way we feel.
Life is hard. But no matter how tough it gets, you know you are going to be alright because you are strong enough to overcome all the challenges ahead of you. This can only be achieved when you love yourself and your life. As the saying goes: “Love conquers all”.
Originally appeared on Perspective Earth