There are tons of websites and books that suggest ways to improve your self-esteem. These authors present many good ideas like increasing your exercise or practicing affirmations. But what happens when you go out into the world, and you are surrounded by unhappy people? How do you maintain those positive affirmations in an environment that feels stifling and perpetually negative? It seems to become more difficult to practice positivity and self-love in those types of situations.
We don’t even have to leave our homes. We turn on the television and see “beautiful” people with tons of cool toys (that we can’t afford) and we begin to compare ourselves and notice what we don’t have; we start to see how we are “less than.” What if I told you there was one big change that you could make to fight against this cycle of negativity? It is the first step to loving yourself and your life. It’s called practicing gratitude. I don’t mean just being occasionally grateful; that can still lead to complacency and feelings of entitlement. I am talking about actively and habitually practicing being grateful for all that you have. Here are a few things you can do to practice gratitude:
Gratitude Stone. Find a rock or stone that is small enough to fit in your pocket (or purse). Each morning put it in your pocket while saying something you are grateful for. (this could be a simple as being happy that you woke up that morning) In the evening, remove the stone from your pocket, and again say something else you are grateful for. This will start building a habit of being grateful and lead to a more positive outlook on life.
Volunteer. Volunteering to serve others is one of the best ways to practice gratitude. Helping people in need provides more opportunity to recognize all of our privileges. We are also able to see how “those less fortunate” have special talents and gifts to offer the world as we all do. Individuals are able to feel good about themselves while connecting with others which helps to increase self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Mentor Someone. You have skills that you are able to share with others. Why not share your passion with someone who wants to learn or who needs your support to reach his or her full potential? You could assist in shaping the next star athlete or expert pediatrician. This type of social involvement will also provide good feelings that increase your confidence.
Say Thank You. Sometimes simple words or phrases can have the most impact. People are often not aware of the impact they have on us unless we tell them. Practice gratitude by thanking someone who may not know what they have done for you. Buy a package of thank you cards to keep handy. When someone in your life goes out of their way to help you, send them a thank you card to brighten their day.
Maintaining a positive outlook on yourself and your life is sometimes hard work. It is your choice to value your strengths and your accomplishments. Start speaking to yourself as though you were talking to your best friend. Would you tell your best friend that she couldn’t go back to school because she’s not good enough? Would you call a person that you love ugly or stupid? Do the expectations you have for others match the expectations you have for yourself? Start “acting” like you are your favorite person in the world until you believe it. You are amazing! Look at all that you have overcome and achieved. You have so many reasons to be grateful. Practice makes perfect. Start practicing!
Check out this awesome song below performed by India Arie