“You can’t really love someone else unless you really love yourself first.”
“Feeling good about ourselves is essential in being able to love others”
Pearls of wisdom from Pittsburgh’s finest, Mister Rogers. Typically, I think of this self-love concept in the context of community revitalization and development. Too many towns fall into the trap of seeking external validation as if some sort of outside approval from tourists or national chains will fix what’s gone wrong. As if civic self-esteem and pride can be bestowed upon a community from afar.
This notion belies everything we know about how humans operate, yet the misconception not only persists, but it’s the dominant way of thinking about how we go about improving our communities. I suppose it’s because the reality of improving conditions is either deemed too boring or too hard. The truth is that the path to happiness and health, both personally and on a civic level is straightforward. When we put in the hard work it takes to improve and do that consistently over time, we experience a sense of accomplishment and pride. This is when we can see the results- and visible results are pretty damn exciting!
But if you feel like you have found a shortcut to real improvement, be my guest, go right ahead, please let me know how the quick fix works out for you and your community. Who knows, maybe a Shake Weight™ or a parking garage is the solution to all your problems.
The point I am getting at with this is that Mister Rogers understood that we can’t take care of others until we take care of ourselves. We must put in the time and effort to make ourselves better. We should be as kind to ourselves as we are to those around us and true contentedness can’t come externally, we have to earn it personally. Being happy takes work, feeling satisfied requires a big commitment.
So with my cardigan-clad neighborly idol in mind, I decided to put my words into action this year. I committed to pushing myself and doing the hard work it takes to feel a sense of accomplishment. I embraced the notion that self-satisfaction can only be earned. I was also feeling a bit hypocritical for not being involved in my own community to the degree I was preaching to others. I decided 2023 was a year to get uncomfortable.
I set out to accomplish several things this year and while I did not achieve every item, I am damn proud of what I did. I completely ignored the points about saving more money, getting enough sleep and cutting back on bourbon, but why focus there? Nor did not get any work outside of the U.S., yes, this comment is directed at you Canadian readers. You know I love poutine.
But on to the positives-
Writing this post is the final uncomfortable thing I have to do this year. Like knocking on doors, or going to the gym, writing about myself is not something I enjoy, in fact, I very much want to avoid it, but as Eleanor Roosevelt said “Things that make us uncomfortable help us build courage to do the work we do.” I have been uncomfortable a great deal this year, which tells me, 2023 has been a success.
So with that out of the way, I am going to spend the rest of the year enjoying the comforts of friends and family and all the trimmings and trappings of the holidays and my birthday. As always, thanks for your support and I hope each of you had all the comforts and discomforts you wanted this year. Happy Holidays!