In the first part of this book, we’ll discuss how and why life can be so hard, what happens when you love yourself, and what happens when you love and serve others. To begin, we’ll focus on “normal” life and how the norm affects your perception of yourself, your life, and others. We’ll talk about loving yourself, loving others, and whether or not life is really supposed to be as hard as it feels sometimes. Then, in the next chapters, we’ll move on to discuss a few things that you might think would make the world and your life better, whether changing those things would help or hurt you and the world, and how to start making your life easier and more fulfilling by focusing on loving and serving others.
When you were a child, life was simple. You went to school. You did a few extracurricular activities. You did your homework, and you played with your friends. Life seemed hard at times, but when you look back at those times now, you almost want to laugh. You look back on times when you thought that math homework was difficult or that it wasn’t fair that you didn’t have the same toys as another child, and you think, “I didn’t know how good I had it!”
Today you deal with so many different problems on a daily basis that it’s difficult to keep up with all of them, let alone deal with them all. From having a hard time at work to relationship problems, health issues, and all kinds of hardships, your head swims when you start to think of all of the things that make your life so difficult.
In today’s economy, people all over the world are out of work or underpaid, and everyone is just trying to get by. But, given the same hardships, it seems like some people have an easier time than others – and we’re not talking about the rich and famous, either. We’re talking about normal people just like you who just seem to handle stress and all of the problems that life throws at them with grace and patience. What’s their secret? Why is life so much easier for them?
In all honesty, with very few exceptions, life really isn’t easier for other people. Yes, some are born with more money, and some seem to choose just the right career path to keep them in a job and earning plenty of money, even during a rough economy. However, you’ll notice that even these people have it really rough a lot of the time. But some people, with or without money or an incredible career, approach life with a smile and so much love that you find yourself smiling with them when you see them. Why is that? What do these people know that you don’t?
You’ve no doubt heard the old saying that you need to love yourself before you can love someone else. People usually use this fairly clichéd sentence or something like it to tell you that you need to experience self-love and have true value for yourself before you can give that same love to someone else. But is it true?
If you look at the people you know who approach life with love and who seem to have an easier time dealing with stress, career problems, and relationship challenges, what do you see? You see them putting a lot of time, effort, and care into others, and you see them care for themselves, too. But which came first? Did they somehow figure out how to love themselves so well that their self-love suddenly burst out of them and into the world? Or did they start by loving and serving others, and then find that love radiating inward?
In a fascinating article for Psychology Today, Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. writes that he believes that people believe the old aphorism of “love yourself before you can love someone else” because it sounds good. It sounds wise, and it seems right, but it may not hold up in the real world. Throughout the article, Seltzer cites cases in which people who grew up in abusive households or otherwise have difficulty loving themselves have shown great love for others. He also points out that with the love and support of a partner, these people often find help loving themselves through therapy and other forms of reflection and self-actualization.
What does that tell you? With or without a deep love and appreciation for yourself, you can love others, and through the love and service of others, you can gain a whole new perspective on yourself and your life.
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