Find your awesomeness! Let your inner light shine! Love yourself like you love your friends!
Statements that would have made me squirm not so long ago. My deeply rooted beliefs in science, objectivity and reason together with my analytical nature and Finnish pessimism have not been a fertile soil for self-love and positivity, and despite my multiple efforts of becoming happier, I didn’t seem to succeed. A year and a half ago I initiated a personal project where I implemented new positive changes into my life every week and at the time, things seemed to be moving forward and I thought I had figured out the key to my happiness-lock.
I hadn’t. Instead of actually being happy, I had created an abundance of rules to live by. I approached happiness as something I needed to execute.
Without going into details, I will say that the last year has been the toughest of my life. It has taken a lot of mental work, compassion from my friends and family and plain old time to get to the point where I am now. As cliche as it sounds, the darkest place allowed me to see the light. I have chosen the path of personal growth, maturity and most of all love and understanding to move on in life. And it is hard as hell! But, it is worth it.
This time has made a few things very clear. The most important – and most difficult – lesson has been self love. I’ve grown into thinking that I always need to strive for something better and that self improvement is an ultimate definition of being a good human being. I still believe in that but I have learned that it can be done only through positivity. I can’t guilt or punish myself to become better.
The second lesson is that I can’t let other people’s opinions and thoughts define my path. No matter what kind of choices I make in life, there will be people who disagree. I will continue to want the best even for the ones who dislike me because of my choices, but pleasing people who barely belong into my life is not a road to happiness.
The third difficult lesson has been to truly listen to others and to accept their truth. At first this seemed to contradict the previous point but I’ve found out that it really doesn’t. Being flexible and having the ability to adapt is a good quality but that does not mean changing one’s mind whenever different opinions are presented. I do not have to agree with everything, just to be respectful and considerate, to really listen and stop putting my own opinions on everyone else. Having real conversations, asking questions and challenging people’s thoughts is great but just lecturing people on how to think and hihglighting my own perspectives is not.
It is so easy to talk about positivity and the changes it takes but actually putting those things into practice is a bit more complicated than that. It takes so much strength to let go of complaining and blaming others and the environment for your own troubles. It takes even more maturity to respect people despite their mistakes and to respect oneself despite being imperfect and making mistakes. One must be strong to be able to make the choice of loving and respecting others even when you feel hurt. And most of all, focusing on self improvement and growth even when you have no guarantee that others will do the same, takes a great deal of will power and self compassion. Personally, one of the biggest challenges has been to stop hiding behind words and start living by the principles I talk about.
At the moment, I find myself being happier than in years for a very simple reason. I decided to be. I didn’t decide to try or to work on it, but to actually be.
It’s not easy. Life is full of misunderstandings, struggles, jealousy, hatred, violence… I mean, the whole planet is on the verge of war or already in war. Sometimes all the negative things just seem overwhelming and there are so many reasons not to be happy. Being happy might even seem inconsiderate. But I believe that any person willing to do good in the world needs to make the choice of being bigger than the difficulties in their own life.
Things that have helped me in this decision, have been both big and small. Partly I feel like for me it required the massive shaking of my life. Loosing something important opened my eyes to seeing how my own behavior and thoughts played a part in the process. This helped in making a conscious choice of changing my thoughts and feelings and taking concrete steps towards a new way of thinking all the time. So basically, the moment my own role in my unhappiness sank in, I had to change. If I made the choice but allowed myself to get there little by little or slowly, it would have been like an alcoholic getting sober little by little.
Now, back to where I started from. Find your awesomeness! As childish as this statement sounded at first, I find it quite handy now. I started finding my awesomeness through a game called Superbetter. I happened to notice a TED talk where the inventor of the game explained how she came up with the idea of a “happiness game”. The game gave me a joyful way of dealing with my hardships. It made becoming better fun and guilt-free. I highly recommend it to every one willing to enjoy life more. It doesn’t tell you to ignore your hardships like some overly positivity-focused people might do, but it tells you to look at your hardships as something you can fight against. It empowers you because the things you will be doing to get better, are small and easy. To learn more, go to http://www.superbetter.com.
I’m so happy to have finally allowed myself to enjoy life and to love myself. It makes dealing with the tough stuff so much easier and it makes me a better person. I’m more fun to be around, I’m more productive and most importantly, I feel better about myself and thus I am finally able to love and care about people the way they are without the need to judge everyone.