Self Love: Selfish or Substantial?


“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” In the words of the Buddha himself. The past months of isolation have certainly left few people able to find repose in day to day life. As a matter of fact, a Census Bureau poll found that more than one-third of Americans have displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the pandemic began. A question regarding depressed mood showed that the percentage of the population experiencing symptoms of depression has doubled since 2014. Pew Research Center also found that 33 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 are in the high distress group, compared to 15 percent of adults 65 and older. Between social, academic and financial uncertainty, adolescence/young adulthood is a testing time of life, let alone the myriad of additional stressors the pandemic has brought to many teens. So how does one find the time and energy to genuinely love and appreciate oneself? 

The adage of “treat others how you wish to be treated” should always be reciprocated with “treat yourself how you treat others”. Not only is it hard for others to love someone who doesn’t love themself, it is even more difficult for someone who doesn’t love themself to truly love others. One should take note of unpleasant feelings which arise throughout the day, summoning compassion for oneself. Let’s say it’s been a rough Monday morning. Friends ask what’s wrong- all you say is that you feel tired. Now’s the time to expand upon your understanding of those feelings. What’s causing the fatigue? Where do you feel tired? Body? Mind? With a greater awareness of both the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of one’s life, the ability to discern within a sometimes cacophonous inner dialogue is strengthened. 

Though seemingly simple, the profound nature of self love can bring true happiness to anyone with hedonistic values. For those who wish to pursue the happiest life possible, understanding the fundamental nature of happiness through mindfulness of one’s inner dialogue plays an important role in facilitating a deeper understanding of happiness. Happiness is cultivated through keeping an open mind and, most importantly, not succumbing to discouraging thoughts when one can’t seem to conjure self love. No different than the unruly state of socio-political affairs, true transformation takes time and patience.