First came the self-esteem movement. Then came the backlash to the self-esteem movement.
It’s pretty clear that repeating “I’m the greatest” or winning a trophy along with every other participant isn’t a good way to build self-esteem.
At the same time, it’s a rare person who isn’t sometimes – or often – plagued with painful self-doubt.
When you’re feeling lousy about yourself, what can you do to feel better?
Here’s the secret.
To build your self-respect…do something worthy of your respect. To like yourself better…do something that makes you likable. Here are some suggestions:
1. Do a good deed. This is as selfish as it is selfless; you’ll benefit as much as the person you’re helping. When I’m feeling low, thinking about the time I helped some friends get a book contract makes me feel much better than recalling every compliment I’ve ever received. In the same vein…
2. Make small gestures of good citizenship. Bring your old magazines to the gym so other people can read them. Help someone with a stroller. My current favorite: picking up trash that other people have left on the subway.
3. Keep a resolution. Not only will you benefit from exercising or cleaning out your garage, you’ll also get a boost from the mere fact that you made a commitment and stuck to it.
4. Become an expert. There’s great satisfaction in mastery. Pick a subject that interests you, and dig in deep: the American Revolution, the works of Chekhov, wine.
5. Boost your energy. Studies show that when you’re feeling energetic, you’re much more likely to feel good about yourself. For a quick shot of energy, take a brisk ten-minute walk (outside, if possible, where sunlight will also stimulate your brain), listen to some great music, or talk to a friend.
6. Challenge yourself physically. This tip doesn’t work for me, but I know that many people feel great after para-sailing, white-water rafting, bungee-jumping, or rollercoaster-riding.
I’m pleased to announce that The Huffington Post has asked me to be one of their bloggers. Lots of interesting material on that site – check it out. Today is my debut (I think). Ah, I love being part of the blogosphere.
I’m a HUGE fan of Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating, and I just saw that it was written up in (of all places) the business section of the New York Times. If you haven’t read the book, the article, Your Plate is Bigger than Your Stomach, gives you a flavor (excuse the pun)…