How to Be Good (To Yourself)

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Recently a couple of people have written me that they’re feeling defeated, and about ready to give up, and asked what keeps me going. I’m less depressed now than I have been in years, and I think it’s largely because I’ve learned to be good to myself. If we’re going to save the world and stuff we need to be at the top of our game, and that means being good to ourselves and to others fighting the good fight.

Here are ten ways to do so. Some of them are difficult, but they’re all worth trying:

  1. Stop comparing yourself and competing with others: Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I don’t understand envy. I know so many people who are eaten up because they don’t think they have the looks, the smarts, the possessions or the power of some other people they (think they) know. I see people whose whole life seems to be about getting attention and approval and appreciation from others. This is insane, consigning yourself to slavery to others’ judgements. How do we get this way? Is low self-esteem something that is bred into us to keep us in line, acquisitive, dissatisfied with what we have? Whatever the cause, we need to get over it. The only standard that counts is whether you’re doing what you love, what you’re good at (in your own assessment), and whether, in the process, you’re happy. Popularity, wealth, power, and awards mostly measure good fortune and fads, nothing more. 
  2. Get things done: There are few things better for you than a sense of accomplishment. The keys to getting things done are not over-promising, making your GTD list achievable, doing what’s important not what’s urgent (and training others not to give you urgent unimportant tasks), and breaking big tasks down into small, manageable ones. 
  3. Let-yourself-change: Stop trying to change the world. Adapt yourself to the world instead. Let yourself change. Become resilient. The model you represent to others is more likely to bring about sustained change than big, impossible projects.
  4. Stop worrying about what you can’t do anything about: Easy to say, hard to do, I know. I wrote about this yesterday. Whenever you catch yourself getting stressed, practice letting go – you’ll get better at it in time.
  5. Learn something new (useful or fun) every day: It’s the best way to cope with sadness and feelings of helplessness. Learn things that will make you more self-sufficient – learn skills and capacities, not about unactionable events and facts.
  6. Be good to others: Acts of kindness tend to pay unexpected and compound dividends, and they make you feel good about yourself too. 
  7. Centre yourself: To be more in control of yourself, pay attention to what you feel, what your senses and instincts and body tell you, turn off the noises in your house and your head. Learn to meditate or otherwise relax. Give yourself more time by realizing your time is worth more than what you’re paid for it, and then spend and take that time, in nature, in peaceful places, just taking stock and being in the moment.
  8. Look after your body: Exercise, eat and drink well, and get lots of sleep and rest.
  9. Surround yourself with loving people: People you love and who love you. Animals and children. People who give a damn. People who are happy and respectful of others. Avoid miserableand angry people. Spend some time alone, but not too much.
  10. Do some spontaneous, playful things: Create something bold. Travel on the spur of the moment. Entertain. Run. Indulge. Dance. Get a massage. You get the idea.

What else? How are you good to yourself?

Category: Let-Self-Change
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7 Responses to How to Be Good (To Yourself)

  1. Pearl says:

    Thanks for this Dave. This needs to be heard often far and wide.

  2. Han de Jonge says:

    This is why I’m a big fan of your weblog. Thanks Dave.

  3. Mariella says:

    In tune with your comments I would like to add: learn to draw mandalas, the more detailed and colorfull, the more “far away” you will travel from your daily thoughts… some say that the universe was build up from 5 figures, the circle, the square, the triangle, the half moon and the point or bindu. Being the most important the point.When your mandala is done, look at it (get loose in it) from the outside to the center, when you reach the center “point”, begin to make it smaller and smaller and more and more… until there is almost nothing left of it in your mind…. behind that almost nothing …they say … you´ll find the universe….. “have a nice trip” … Mariella

  4. David Parkinson says:

    I suspect that many people feel beaten down because they are either repressing feelings that things are seriously screwed up, in their lives or in the world at large; or they are beginning to expose these feelings, and find very little (almost no) social support for talking about the world or starting to make fundamental changes in the way they live. Many people are trapped by circumstance; many are trapped by ignorance (of alternative thought, of blogs like this, of their own next-door neighbour’s similar anxieties).There is a “spiritual dissonance” going around these days. Many people feel the tugs of Let-Self-Change, but aren’t yet able to articulate what it’s about. And so they trundle along the worn groove, secretly aching to jump out and stop the pain of pretending that all is well in the best of all possible worlds.The only answer is the slow & steady infiltration of the culture by more compelling alternative visions becoming reality. It’s not enough, never enough, but it’s just about all there is.Thanks, nice post.

  5. Mushin says:

    Would it be alright with you to repost this in my wiki?Love,mushin

  6. Octavio Lima says:

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful survival kit.

  7. Well, I used to not consider myself a very happy person. I always relied on others for my happiness. However, over the past few years I have used the majority of this list on a regular basis and now consider myself quite happy. I am in the process of a big turnover of “friends”. You know those angry and miserable people you talk about? Those are my friends at the moment. I am 22, about to graduate University with an Education degree, and I know that my current friends are now my friends of the past. It’s sad, but sometimes you gotta let go. All I want is someone who gives a damn, like I’ve given a damn about them for the past 8 years. Too much to ask nowadays?

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