We had the pleasure of having a brilliant mind, Steve Almond, on Love University. Steve is the bestselling author of Candyfreak, and former cohost of the multi-million listener advice podcast, “Dear Sugar” with Cheryl Strayed, #1 NY Times bestselling author. Approaching his writing with a deep psychological understanding, Steve shared some fascinating insights on society, life, and happiness in America today.
*What Would You Tell Your 20-Year-Old Self? According to Steve, you could tell them to read, explore, and try different things to discover who they really are and want in life. But, Steve cautions, the 20-year-old self probably wouldn’t listen to the older self because they want to do things “their way.” The good news is that there is no need to regret mistakes you made in the past because when you’re in 2nd grade psychologically, you make 2nd grade mistakes. When you’re in college, you won’t make those same mistakes. Therefore, as you grow with life experiences, you will act differently than before—better and more aware—as long as you learn from your mistakes and help others learn from your mistakes (mentor them). As you do this, you become a happier human being.
*You Have an Obsession for a Reason: Steve admits that he is addicted to candy, and he went cross-country finding candies from his youth, as documented in his bestseller, Candyfreak. He says that we have obsessions for a reason—to try to end pain and struggle—things that are unbearable. Whether it’s a food or substance addiction, relationship addiction, or work addiction, we use the thing, person, or activity as an attempt to mask the pain we have deep inside. The problem is that the pain doesn’t go away; it is only temporarily covered up. The solution, Steve says, is to face the issue behind the pain (low self-worth, abusive background, and so forth) through reading, therapy, and self-analysis. Once we start growing inwardly, the obsession will tend to fall away by itself because we have something new to take its place: self-love.
*Pay Attention to Your Own Life: In book, William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life, , Steve talks about one of the biggest problems in society today: We’re so focused on getting attention from others, that we neglect to pay attention to our own inner life. Consequently, we make unhealthy and even self-destructive decisions. We think consuming a product or trying to win other’s approval will make us happy. It won’t. Steve say we need to be aware of who we are and what we stand for, so we can take the necessary steps to fully accept and represent our authentic selves, as we strive to help make the world a better place.
Yes, you can be happy and healthy as long as you accept who you really are, with full acceptance, and without regrets. Instead of covering up your fears and pains with external things, and trying to put on a false appearance to be appealing for others, you need to look within and develop love and courage as inner forces for good. When you do this, you can be truly authentic to your pure nature, and you can bring more love and happiness into your world and the worlds of those around you.