Robert A. Heinlein wrote in his book Stranger in a Strange Land, “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” This phrase may have been a line in a fictional book, but we will demonstrate that it is true. Loving yourself is the condition which is essential to being happy.
In other words, you cannot be happy until you learn self-love.
Many people are unaware of how much they don’t appreciate themselves, and they’re left wondering why they can’t just be happy. It’s a topic worth looking into so many psychologists have weighed in on the subject. In this article, we’ll cover areas such as:
- The definition of love
- The definition of being happy
- How to respect yourself
- How to be happy
- Allowing others to appreciate you
- The dangers of overindulging
By the end, you’ll have read a complete guide about loving yourself and being happy, and the answer to why you need to love yourself to be happy should be clear.
Self Love & Being Happy
Before understanding why self-love must come before being happy, it’s helpful to put some type of definition to both conditions.
The definition of self-love, as many psychologists and life coaches define it, is putting your well-being and happiness in life first. From this definition, it’s easy to see why you can’t be happy if you don’t love yourself – because self-love is the act of making yourself comfortable.
You can apply this thought process to anything, whether it’s ideas or tangible things. For example, you can love yourself enough to improve your education, or you could love yourself enough to lose weight, so your body is healthy. It’s more about feeling like you deserve to be loved (which we discuss more further along in the article).
However, what does it mean to be happy?
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, being happy can be defined in two ways. It can be a state of mind that is purely psychological, or it could be how well you’re doing in life, which is based on value.
That said, many psychologists would argue that the latter definition of being happy isn’t the real definition. After all, many wealthy, successful business people and celebrities struggle with depression.
How to Start Loving Yourself
Loving yourself isn’t a switch – you can’t just start doing it on a whim if you haven’t been doing it before. The process is like any other process you’d learn to do. Start from the beginning, start slow, work your way into it, get good at it, then excel at it.
Here are three tips that will help you get started on a journey of self-kindness.
1 – Open your mind
First, drop the notion that the phrase “love yourself” is some modern, hippie-mantra that everyone is saying to fit in. Many people think of the saying “love yourself” as a mantra or vinyl word art. It’s so much more than that.
To love yourself is just as concrete as loving someone else – not in a romantic sense but a sense of well-being. You want the people you like to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled. And, of course, you desire the same outcome for yourself. You have to know, deep in your core, that you are worth it.
2 – Acknowledge negative self-talk
Next, realize that you’re going to have negative thoughts about yourself. It’s completely normal – it’s human. In fact, Stanford psychologist Emma Seppälä states in her book “The Happiness Track, “As far as our minds are concerned, bad is stronger than good…in this day and age, our negativity bias, both as it relates to the environment and our self-judgments, is harmful.”
The key is to dismiss these thoughts just as you would reject someone who is gossiping about you. It’s hard – it will not be a walk in the park, but the more you practice dismissing these thoughts, the better you’ll get at it. Do it with positive thinking and compassion for yourself. For example, the negative thought would be, “I’m a loser. I can never do anything right.” Instead, be kind to yourself and change it to something like a pep talk. “I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I will do better.” Be compassionate. Compassion is essential because you can be your own worst critic.
3 – Learn to love yourself without conditions
As you get more compassionate with yourself, teach yourself that you are worth loving unconditionally. Many times, people put so many conditions on themselves, which puts them in a catch-22 situation.
For example, look at this statement: “I’m not going to buy myself new clothes until I lose weight.” This is an excellent notion, but you are not going to lose weight until you love yourself enough to do it.
Rethink the situation. Then, buy new clothes because, well, why not? You deserve to wear beautiful clothes no matter what size you are. Thinking of it in this way removes the conditional love. Suddenly, you love yourself so much that you want to lose weight to fit in other cute clothes. Be compassionate and remove the conditions.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of being compassionate and letting go of conditions, you are ready to love yourself.
Be Happy as You Grow More in Love with Yourself
After you get good at self-love, you will begin to see that there is a whole world out there full of things, feelings, people, activities, and more that can make you happy. However, don’t rely only on material things to make you happy. Remember, there are two parts to being happy, and the first part is psychological. At this point, you’ve done the hardest part, which is loving yourself. Here are a few tips that will push you the rest of the way:
- Get regular sleep. Science proves that sleeping well improves your mood.
- Spend more time with people who make you happy.
- Go outside. Taking in the sunshine and fresh air plays a part in boosting your mood.
- Meditation makes people happier–give it a try.
The value part of being happy is easy. Do things that make you happy! Go on trips, buy yourself gifts, do your favorite activities. The idea is to love yourself so much that you consistently make yourself happy.
When You Love Yourself, Others Can Love You
Being loved by others also increases your sense of being happy. After all, humans are social creatures. Everyone wants to be loved by someone. However, you must be open to being loved.
If you want to be loved by others, you must love yourself first. If you don’t show kindness yourself, it gets in the way of other people being kind to you. The problem with trying to love someone who doesn’t love themselves is that they don’t think they deserve to be loved. Therefore, they reject it. This makes them even more unhappy, which makes for a terrible relationship.
Another point to this is that when you love yourself, this sets the precedent of what it takes for someone else to become devoted to you. It helps you to discriminate between those who genuinely love you and those who are faking it, because, since you love yourself, you know what true love is.
Don’t Overindulge the Pampering, Though!
Just as the pendulum swings one way, it can swing an equal distance in the other direction. It’s great to care for yourself and make yourself happy, but you must be careful not to overdo it. In an earlier section, we mentioned falling in love yourself with no conditions. This is true – that is not what we’re referring to when speaking of overindulging.
Make sure that you maintain a healthy balance. Don’t spoil yourself to the point that you’re doing things to make yourself happy despite any harmful consequences that might occur.
For example, don’t go on a shopping spree if you have not paid your monthly rent. You are guaranteed that getting evicted will cancel out any short-term pleasure that your shopping spree gave you. Being happy should never be put above responsibilities.
You should also not gain your peaceful state of mind at the expense of others’ happy state of mind. Doing this could cause you to end up alone. Being alone can kill your newfound happy state of mind faster than you were able to obtain it.
There is no doubt that you need to love yourself first before you can truly be happy. If you are not unable to respect yourself or unaccustomed to being happy, it can be a challenge to get there.
To get started, you must overcome one of the biggest obstacles you will face in your lifetime – you. You must believe you’re worth everything. You must think you’re worthy of devotion and be happy in your life.
Once you have overcome yourself, the rest is the easy part. Continue on a path of doing things that make you happy. And most of all, enjoy every minute of it.