Book Reports

The Importance of Loving Yourself

I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

I stumbled across Kamal Ravikant’s Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It during a 30-day free trial of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (no affiliation) and remembered it mentioned by his brother (AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant), on the highly recommended Tim Ferriss podcast “Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks and the 5 Chimps Theory.”

Mantras, affirmations – do they have the power to change your life? From books like It Works! to The Secret (which, full disclosure, I have not read), people have been touting the power of language, specifically language spoken to yourself repeatedly, to change lives for generations.

How does Ravikant’s book fit in to this tradition? At it’s most basic, his short work covers one single three-word affirmation: I love myself. The experience he recounts seems authentic, and highlights a some ideas that resonated with me:

 

  • Loving yourself is not just saying the words, but actually feeling the emotion, and in doing so ostensibly creating the pathways in the brain that lead to more positive all-around thinking and behavior
  • Creating that positive mindset with the mantra is a daily practice, and the need to continuously remind yourself never goes away. This can be especially challenging with things are going well
  • Loving yourself is not some narcissistic ego-boost. It must be done gently, like a mother loves her child. You want to feel grateful to yourself, kind, and caring, wanting the best for yourself. This leads to a question you can always ask: would I act/say/feel this way if I truly loved myself? How would I act/speak/feel if I truly loved myself? And then act, speak, or feel that way.

Some passages that stuck out to me:

  • His initial vow: “This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I love myself.”
  • “I once heard someone explain thoughts as this: we as human beings, think that we’re thinking. Not true. Most of the time, we’re remembering. We’re re-living memories. We’re running familiar patterns and loops in our head. For happiness, for procrastination, for sadness. Fears, hopes, dreams, desires. We have loops for everything. We keep replaying the loops and they in turn, trigger feelings. It’s automatic to the point where we believe that we have no choice. But that is far from the truth. Imagine a thought loop as this: a pathway laid down by constant use. Like a groove in rock created by water. Enough time, enough intensity, and you’ve got a river. If you had a thought once, it has no power over you. Repeat it again and again, especially with emotional intensity, feeling it, and over time, you’re creating the grooves, the mental river. Then it controls you.
  • Meditation technique #1:
    • Step 1: Put on music. Something soothing, gentle, preferably instrumental. A piece you have positive associations with.
    • Step 2: Sit with back against wall or window. Cross legs or stretch them out, whatever feels natural.
    • Step 3: Close eyes. Smile slowly. Imagine a beam of light pouring into your head from above.
    • Step 4: Breathe in, say to yourself in your mind, I love myself. Slowly. Be gentle with yourself.
    • Step 5: Breathe out and along with it, anything that arises. Any thoughts, emotions, feelings, memories, fears, hopes, desires. Or nothing. Breathe it out. No judgment, no attachment to anything. Be kind to yourself.
    • Step 6: Repeat 4 and 5 until the music ends.
  • When posed with a decision or challenge: “ask myself the question, ‘if I loved myself, truly and deeply, what would I do?’
  • “Coming from the dumps, when life works, it’s great. But if life is working, and you do the practice, how high can life go? Can I handle it? Heck, do I even deserve it?”
  • “Lay down the synaptic pathways until the mind starts playing it automatically. Do this with enough intensity over time and the mind will have no choice. That’s how it operates. Where do you think your original loops came from?”
  • “I’ve always known that growth is important to me. If I don’t feel like I’m growing, I’m drifting, depressed. But what I didn’t know, until the practice of self-love showed me, was my belief about growth: real growth comes through intense, difficult, and challenging situations.” For me the belief is growth comes through travel and exploration, rooted in formative travel in my teens, first Colorado for a summer program after my sophomore year of high school, and then to Italy with my sister, accompanying my mom on a business trip, during my junior high school year.
  • “Please our bet on it, then go all out. That’s where magic happens. Where life blows away our expectations.”
  • Kamal on twitter: @kamalravikant
  • Kamal’s blog: founderzen.com

What did you think about Kamal’s work? Have you put any of his suggestions to actual practice?

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