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Understanding, Accepting, and Embracing Yourself - the Key to Happiness?
"Self-actualizing people enjoy life more - not that they don't have pain, sorrow and troubles, just that they get more out of life. They appreciate it more; they have more interests; they are more aware of beauty in the world. They have less fear and anxiety and more confidence and relaxation."
Abraham H Maslow
The Pursuit of Happiness
We are all on the pursuit of happiness – at least, I know I have been on the pursuit my whole life up until now, and always will be. But how do we get to that true feeling of happiness and inner peace? This is a question humans seek to answer on a daily basis, and answering the question and applying the solution to one’s life can truly help shape and determine one’s destiny.
I have been seeking happiness for as long as I can remember. It is why I used to play tricks on my younger sister back in the day (I still do to this day), why I eat lobster (love the stuff), why I drink wine (ahhhh), why I spend a day at the beach in the middle of summer, soaking up the sun and turning brown and tan (just did that today!), making loads of money and so on and so forth. But are all of these things that we do, activities we partake in, addictions or bad habits we seek out and feed, bad (but yummy!) food we eat, etc. just temporary moments of happiness, or even, for some, Band-Aids with which we use to cover our cuts until they heal, pretending that these things make us truly happy deep down inside?
I don’t know about you, but eating lobster and sipping on a glass of cabernet would make me truly happy to the core!
True Happiness to the Core
But seriously, what really makes us truly happy deep down inside? Maybe we have to define the kind of happiness I am referring to first - Oxford Dictionary defines happiness as “the state of being happy” – ok, thanks Oxford Dictionary, that really clears things up for us. Actually, maybe before putting down the good ol’ Oxford Dictionary of the English language, I should look up the definition of happy – Oxford Dictionary lists the following for the word:
- Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment
- Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with
- Satisfied with the quality or standard of
- Willing to do something
Now we are on a roll. Do I want to be in states of feeling contentment, having a sense of confidence or satisfaction with, satisfied with the quality or standard of, and willing to do something, straight through to my core every day of my life? Um, yes, sign me up! So how do we achieve that?
I believe, and many sources out there agree, that to know thyself – understanding, accepting, and embracing yourself – is key to achieving happiness. In a way, it can be referred to as “self-actualization”, a "term originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one's full potential" (Wikipedia).
Why is to know thyself the key to achieving happiness?
To completely understand yourself is one thing; couple that with accepting and embracing yourself, and you’ve got the perfect base ingredients to achieve a life full of happiness. You become at peace with yourself and the world around you, and realize what you can offer the world, and the world becomes a better and brighter place. You are able to develop a purpose in life when you truly understand the good qualities you can bring to the world, and having a sense of purpose in life is truly amazing. I would know, as I was seeking that out for the longest time, and felt completely lost without it. It is a terrible state to be in, but luckily, I have been on the path to self actualization and am seeing the clouds lift in a way I have never experienced before.
- The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance | Psychology Today
How do you fully accept yourself when you don't know how? By Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D....
Embarking on the path to self-discovery
So I tried to think, if I was truly a deeply, depressed person, who had no energy to even get out of bed in the morning, and felt like I would rather die than live – how would I even begin to ponder the idea of starting a quest of understanding, accepting and embracing myself? I mean, that is a lot to take on and sounds like a lot of work.
I would start with asking myself, ‘what ONE good quality do I possess that I could bring to the world?’ – because when you’re down and out like that, you don’t think you have anything to offer the world. But if you start with naming just one thing, because everyone has to have at least one good quality about themselves, you can perhaps start to mentally understand what qualities you possess, accept those great qualities, and embrace them to a point where you can start to pick up the pieces and see that life is a beautiful thing – and embark on the lifelong journey of self-discovery and true happiness.
- How Self-Acceptance Can Crack Open Your Life
Dr. Robert Holden's radical 10-day plan to accept who you really are.
I am listening to the 311 song “Beyond the Grey Sky” right now – if you have never heard it before, I would encourage you to check it out because it’s great. I used to listen to it when I was sad, and wish I could see the “clear blue sky beyond the grey sky” as the band sings about – I see that blue sky today, and never thought I would at points in my life. And you can, too, if you take the time to discover your good qualities and begin to seek out true happiness.