Remember being in high school and sitting at a football game. The cheerleaders would try to get the crowd excited and hungry for a victory. A line from one of the cheers went something like this:
Five, Six, Seven, Eight…Who do we appreciate?
I suspect that the word “appreciate” was used because it rhymes with “eight,” but this line is a great reminder on how to live a joyful life. Because the one person you should be appreciated the most is…YOU.
Have you ever noticed that you have to perceive something first, before you can notice it in the world? Before you can emotionally resonate with another person or thing, you have to have seen it in yourself. It is your decision about yourself that determines your world.
For example, if you wake up and immediately think of the millions of tasks you have to accomplish, and wonder how you are ever going to get them done, don’t you feel a sense of anxiety – even dread? If you see yourself as a “person-who-has-too-much-to-do-and-how-in-the-world-am-I-going-to-get-it-all-done” then that is how you will be in that moment. If you hold onto that thought, there is no doubt that you will “be-come” that thought as you move about your day.
Who wants to live in a state of anxiety or dread? Certainly not me…or you either, or else you would not be spending precious time reading these words. Since you stopped by and you reached this far, stay for a bit longer, O.K.?
Let me ask you a question: How do you see yourself in this moment? Who are you in this drop of time as we share our thoughts? Has your opinion about yourself colored how you perceive and interpret the meaning of these words? (O.K., that was three questions…) Some people may doubt these words, others will embrace them. Whatever your reaction, you can trace it back to how you perceive your place in the world.
If you see yourself as a seeker of truth and an adventurer in this game of life, you will read this article much differently than someone who feels that life is a struggle and asks, “Why is it so hard?” Either way, the filter of your self-perception determines your world.
Remember, the first relationship you ever have is with yourself. Love yourself and you will see love in your world. Hate yourself and you will see…well, you get the idea.
So the first step in changing your world is to first identify how you see yourself in it. Write down your thoughts about yourself for a day and you will have taken a momumental step towards a better life. For once you identify how you define yourself, you can take steps to change that definition. Be on the lookout for judgments you make about yourself. Write those down too, because they cement your ideas about yourself.
After one day of recording your thoughts about yourself, look on what you have written as if it came from your best friend. Treat yourself with compassion and love. You do not need to judge what you have written (which also contains judgments!) Your answer is your answer. There is no right or wrong. You own your perception of yourself. You created it and you “be-come” it as you move about in the world. And here is the secret to a happy life:
No one can change it but you.
But remember this…your answer is your answer. It will determine how you see the world. For what you see in yourself, you see in the world.
Which brings us back around to the high school cheer. Who do YOU appreciate? If your answer is not YOU, then you will not see your place in the world as secure, joyous and loving. Instead, you will see fear, lack and competition. If there is lack of appreciation of yourself, you will see lack in your world. Think about it, and then change how you think.
Now…stand up and say it with me…One, two three, four — Who are you fighting for? Five, six, seven, eight – Who do you appreciate?