Written by 19:14 World

How to Like Yourself More

I want to be a person with practices. A yoga practice, a mindfulness practice, a gratitude practice. I’m not totally sure when a nourishing activity passes into the realm of a practice, but I think it has something to do with intention and devotion. You prioritize doing this thing that has a positive effect on you or others or on the world you live in — say, sitting in quiet contemplation for 20 minutes each morning, or journaling every night before bed. You commit to doing it on a regular basis, and after enough reps, it becomes part of who you are.

I’ve been hesitant to declare — to myself, never mind anyone else — that I’ve established any of the aforementioned practices because I’m skeptical of my ability to stick with them. I tend to burn hot in the initial phases of something that promises to improve my life, and then lose steam very quickly. I’ve done the first day of the “Yoga With Adriene” 30-day challenge at least 30 times.

One need not be so doctrinaire about one’s practices, I know. The point is to do and feel better, not to get a gold star. I’ve wandered away from many practices only to return to them, usually because I miss them, because seeing the benefits of doing something is often not as powerful as experiencing its absence. That’s the case with something I’ve been doing for the past eight months or so — not every single day, but enough days to tentatively call it “a thing I do,” if not a thoroughgoing practice.

At the end of the day, I try to write down as many things as I can think of that I appreciate about myself. It might be how I handled a difficult situation, or that I checked something off my to-do list that I’d been putting off. It might be something witty I said, or the way I reframed how I was thinking about a situation. Some days there’s not much content to work with, and I might just appreciate that I made the bed even though I really didn’t want to, or that my hair looked kind of good.

When someone first recommended I try this, I thought it sounded very self-involved, maybe a little pathetic — was my self-esteem so impoverished that I needed to ply myself with compliments? (It turns out that some days, in fact, I do.) But over time I realized that what at first seemed facile was actually sort of revolutionary.

I’d tried practicing gratitude before and found it quite effective. You take a few minutes to write down things you’re thankful for — the kindness of a stranger, the way your child looks at you while you’re reading a bedtime story, the smell of honeysuckle when you bike past that one tree. You remind yourself how lucky you are, that while you’ve been fretting or regretting or despairing, all these good things and people and possibilities are part of your story, too.


Last modified: 1 July 2024