Do you ever feel sad, depressed, or down-in-the dumps? It’s a common feeling for many people at certain times in their lives. Now, there is hope in the form of a new approach to self-love, as explained to us by a joyful woman, Jennifer Ayers-Belinkis on Love University. After recovering from Major Depression—a severe depressive disorder—she wrote a book of self-love and awakening called “Me.” Here are some of the lessons we learned for how to turn sadness into triumph:See people as your teachers. Everyone we come into contact with—even difficult, annoying, and mean people—have a lesson to teach us. Instead of losing our mind with anger and frustration in our interactions with difficult people, we can slow down our mental movements and become aware of our thoughts and feelings, as we begin to understand the lesson we need to learn. Perhaps, we need to develop the skill of patience, or we need to have more compassion for the suffering of others—realizing how much the angry person destroys themselves with their own anger. When we learn the lesson, we can move our minds to a higher and safer place.
Smile every day. Make it a point each day to smile at family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers. When you smile, you express loving energy; you create a daily habit of extending your joy to others. As you do this, you may see different reactions: some will smile back and start a conversation; some will mumble a quick “hi,” and others will avoid your smile and walk hurriedly away. Regardless of their reaction, you will keep smiling because you have an inner warmth that you are expressing outwardly. The more you smile, the more joyful you will feel inside, and eventually you will discover those individuals who resonate with your smile.
Ask yourself: Was I in connection to my joy? Before you go to sleep at night, reflect on your day and think about whether you did the things that brought you happiness. Did you meditate, pray, exercise, listen to music, create something, play, or express love to your loved ones (humans or animals)? Did you take the time to savor that cup of your favorite drink; smell the flowers; breathe in fresh outdoor air? If you find yourself rushing around and spending most of your time on distracting and petty things that don’t contribute much to your happiness, then resolve to make tomorrow different. As you lie in bed, write down the one most important thing you can do tomorrow that will bring you joy; resolve to do that one thing at the very beginning of your day. Maybe it’s as simple as sitting quietly outside and reading your favorite book, while listening to the birds. Strive to do one thing you love, or have a strong affinity for, each day, and you will be a happier and more joyous person with more love to give to others.
*Ask yourself: What am I grateful for today? When you wake up each morning, think about all of the things you are grateful for. Now, you may say, “I don’t have much to be grateful for.” Perhaps, you’re struggling in your career, finances, relationships, health, or emotional well-being. Maybe, people have let your down and betrayed you, or you have been your own worst enemy as you let bad habits, poor mental thinking patterns, and out-of-control addictions hinder and enslave you. Yet, no matter how far down you have fallen down in the well of despair, if you look up, you can still see the sun. Think about it: Are you alive? Yes, then you can be grateful for that. Can you breathe fresh air; yes, you can be grateful for that. Can you savor the taste of food; if so, you can be grateful for that. Do you have anyone in your life—human or animal—that you can call a friend? If it’s “yes,” then be grateful for that. Have you been given any talent, ability, or advantage in life? If so, you can be grateful for that. Regardless of your current condition in life, chances are, you can find one or more things to be grateful for. The power of gratitude is that it lifts you from feeling sorry about yourself into feeling good about the gifts and blessings you have been given while you’re on earth. Research shows that keeping a gratitude journal—writing three things you’re grateful for every day—can reduce depression by 30% and increase sleep by 40%. Practice gratitude every day and you will find plenty in your life to be content about.
Yes, you can start to change your life by loving yourself, “Me,” not in a selfish or egotistical way, but in a way that renews your inner power so you can give more love to others and contribute to the world. Too many people sacrifice themselves to please others, or maintain the image that they think the world wants them to be, while neglecting their true authenticity—who they really are inside. Now, it’s time to “unmask yourself”—drop your artificial personality meant to impress others—and be your true self. Understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself. Once you do that, you can shine your loving light to others and make this world a better place.