“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~Buddha
A few nights ago I did a search on Google Ad Words to compare the words “self-esteem” and “happy.” I discovered that over fifty-five million people search for the word “happy” every month, whereas just 800,000+ people search for “self-esteem.”
Okay, I get it; we just want to be happy. But in order to be happy we need the foundation first, and the key ingredient is a healthy self-esteem. Once we increase our self-esteem, happiness comes with it.
Creating a healthy sense of self-esteem might mean tons of work for some of us. It all starts with disciplining our thoughts.
When I was in my twenties I was as far away from understanding this as you can imagine being. I used to think I was the ugliest person on the planet. I went through two terrible depressions, and I even contemplated suicide.
All of this happened because I lacked gratitude for being alive, and I struggled with self-acceptance, discipline, and forgiveness. I had trouble forgiving myself because I would be too tough on myself whenever I made a mistake, and I had trouble forgiving others because I used to take things too personally, when in reality what other people say is a reflection of them, not me.
Growing up I didn't develop confidence in my ability to create change. I was allowing things to happen to me instead of making things happen for me.
The last time I was depressed was twelve years ago. I could have died after taking a whole box of sleeping pills. After that I finally realized how ungrateful and selfish I had been by only focusing on myself.
I decided to take 100 percent responsibility for my life because the idea of dying was scarier than the idea of living. If I was going to live, I decided I will do it in the best possible way.
And I did. In the process I laid a strong foundation for high self-esteem and ultimately became much happier.
Now, I love my life, I’m extremely grateful, and I continually learn how to keep improving as a human being while also teaching what I learn.
Being the woman I am today doesn't mean I never get sad, or that I never have problems.
Being happy with who you have become, being grateful for the opportunity to live and for all you’ve experienced so far, being open to teaching and helping others helps you to deal better with challenges that life puts into your journey.
Life is a cycle. Sometimes everything is great and sometimes everything falls apart in a matter of seconds. But we can choose to see each experience as something that will help us grow and become wiser.
My conclusion after years of self-growth work is that a high self-esteem equals a high level of happiness, which leads to a fulfilled life. The keys?
1. Understand why you need to change your thoughts and habits.
It takes discipline to direct your thoughts to love, to increase your good habits, and to look after your body and soul every day.
One way to increase your discipline is to write down the “why's.” Ask yourself, why it is important to improve the quality of your thoughts?
How would you feel having more loving thoughts? How would you feel if most of your thoughts were self-hating? Can this be a compelling reason? How would your life change if you treated your mind as sacred? How would life be if you treated it with respect?
I used to have very low self-discipline, but step by step I kept improving it because I found compelling reasons to do so. Find your “why's” and start with the first step. Today.
2. Enlist support.
Ask your family and friends for support, join a community, or seek professional help as you work toward increasing your self-esteem. Alone we won't get anywhere.
3. Use affirmations and mantras.
Choose a mantra that will guide you through this process and repeat it three times a day (thirty times each time). One of my favorite mantras is “Every day I am better in every area of my life.”
4. Filter your inner circle.
We can’t always avoid negative people; they're everywhere. But you can choose to surround yourself with people who support you and encourage you to be a better human being, while you also do the same for them; and you can create some distance in relationships where this isn’t the case.
Trust that by creating some distance, you will make space for more healthy relationships. Give yourself the opportunity to be surrounded by great souls. You won’t be alone, I promise.
5. Practice gratitude for yourself.
Every day is a new life. It's not that hard to be grateful when everything is okay. The tough part comes when you need to continue being grateful during hard times.
When I'm feeling down, I thank my body for being able to breathe, I thank my eyes for being able to see, I thank my hands for being able to create, and I thank my values for leading me toward positive experiences.
Write down everything you are grateful for and read it every morning or any time you're feeling low.
By practicing gratitude for parts of yourself you may otherwise not think to acknowledge, you will value more who you are, and this will help you to create a higher sense of self-love.
6. Be present.
By learning to not worry so much about the past and the future, you can start focusing on the moment, seeing each day as a new opportunity to do your best.
By being in the present you will have more confidence because you’ll know that whatever negative experience you had in the past does not have to repeat itself. You will feel empowered to create a compelling future regardless of what’s happened before, which will strengthen your sense of self-worth.
7. Help others.
When you’re feeling helpless, go out and help someone else. Perhaps you can join a non-profit to volunteer your skills.
This will allow you to see other realities, which will help you appreciate how fortunate you really are. It will also make you more confident because you will feel you can add great value to others in need.
8. Trust in something bigger than yourself.
We are not alone; we are all connected. Whenever I find myself trusting only my own strengths, I get insecure. But if I have done all that I could in a particular situation and then I also trust that the universe is supporting me, insecurities go away and miracles happen.
Get out there, do the best you can, and allow the universe to give you a hand.
I’d love to know what your challenges with self-esteem and happiness are! Will you take these important steps? What else would you add to this list?