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How to like yourself more

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When someone first suggested I try this, I thought it sounded selfish and even a little pathetic — was my self-esteem so low that I needed to pamper myself with compliments? (It turns out that sometimes I do.) But over time, I realized that what initially seemed like a breeze was actually revolutionary.

I’ve tried gratitude before and find it very effective. You spend a few minutes writing down things to be grateful for – the kindness of a stranger, the way your child looked at you as you read a bedtime story, the scent of honeysuckle you smelled as you rode your bike past that tree. You remind yourself how lucky you are, and that when you’re upset, regretful, or hopeless, all these wonderful things, people, and possibilities are part of your story, too.

With gratitude, you think about things outside of yourself. You remember that you are not alone and that there is more going on in your life than what you think in your head, which allows you to see things for what they really are. Gratitude requires thinking about yourself, but it is not the opposite of gratitude, it is a reflection of gratitude. It is gratitude for yourself, which can feel egotistical at first, but ultimately, to me, it doesn’t seem that way at all.

If left to my own devices, my mind would review the day like a detective, looking for things I did wrong, could have done better, or didn’t do at all. When I do my gratitude practice, I start by asking myself, “What did I do right today?” These are the actions and moments we tend not to dwell on for too long because they’re often the least stressful part of the day. These are the headlines you don’t think of telling someone about your day when they ask you about it. They’re not interesting or annoying. They’re not really meant to be talked about at a cocktail party.

But the cumulative effect of honoring these situations day after day is that you start to see patterns in your behavior and notice the positive impact you have on those around you. When you see that, you start to like yourself more. And who couldn’t stand to like themselves more?

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