By Theresa Ho
“The greatest gift you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.”
~Anthony J. D’Angelo
The other day, when I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday, someone asked about the best gift I’d ever received.
What came to mind was getting my parents’ hand-me-down Corolla when I was sixteen. It was my first taste of being all ‘grown-up.’ I felt like my parents trusted me enough to give me the keys to go out on my own. It gave me a sense of pride and freedom.
Aside from that, nothing else that was tangible came to mind. What stood out were the memories and the moments I shared with the people who celebrated my birthday with me. And the most memorable ones involved traveling or living in a foreign country.
So this got me thinking—the best gifts you can give yourself are things that are priceless. They are a collection of moments and experiences that add depth and value to your life.
Aside from a lifetime of adventures, here is a list of invaluable gifts you deserve to give yourself.
1. Time to learn about yourself.
In Dr. Meg Jay’s TED talk, she offers twenty-somethings a piece of advice—to invest in “identity capital,” something that adds value to who you are and who you want to be.
I feel this point is applicable to people of all ages. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to learn more about you.
Give yourself the permission to explore and really get to know who you are. Discover what you like and don’t like. This will help you set your standards and boundaries, which are hopefully aligned with your values, so that you can create the life you want.
Along the way you might find that things change. And that’s okay. It’s natural. When it does, recognize this and be mindful in your daily actions as you adjust to the person you are becoming.
2. Peace of mind.
Everything is temporary; nothing lasts forever.
When you give yourself permission to befriend what is, instead of what you think it should be, you’ll realize that the best thing you can do is to focus on the present and count your blessings.
There’s no need to worry incessantly, for you can’t control the future, or what others think for that matter. Most of the time people are self-absorbed, going through their own things, not even aware of how their actions and reactions may have come across to you.
Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything; it only takes away today’s peace.
When you are in the moment, just do what you can do. Sometimes it may be nothing, and it’s okay.
Have faith that everything will work out for the best. After all, you have found a way to survive your ‘bad’ choices thus far. So going forward, why not trust yourself? You’ve got the proof that you are capable of more than you know.
3. Time for yourself.
We often put ourselves last on our to-do list.
But it’s important to take care of your well-being and to recharge your batteries first in order to be at your best to give to others.
Find ways to you nurture your body and nourish you mind. Take the rest you need to not burn yourself out. After all, you are the caretaker of your body and life. No one can do this for you.
When you allow yourself to have moments to unwind, de-stress, and reconnect with yourself, you will be more productive, have more energy, and feel happier, which will result in fostering better relationships while reducing your stress levels.
4. A chance.
Give yourself the gift of following your dreams. Do what you love; do what is important for you.
In order for you to live a fulfilled and meaningful life, you have to live it yourself. So don’t wait until it’s too late. Find the courage and willpower to live a life true to yourself, and spend your time doing what counts for you.
I was once depressed and was lucky to find passion for life again.
Through reading self-help books, following sites like Tiny Buddha, getting into yoga, and asking for help, I realized I’d been living someone else’s life . No wonder I was in a slump and unhappy.
When I started to fall in love with life all over again, I was determined to start living on my own terms. And now I am giving myself a chance to do what it is I love, which is to help others whose lights have been dimmed to find purpose and passion again.
As Wayne Dyer famously said, “Don’t die with your music still in you.”
“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” ~Unknown
We often have a hard time forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. Instead of beating ourselves up, we need to appreciate the lessons we’ve learned from our unwise choices.
Recognize that you did your best with what you understood back then. You are not defined by your past.
The fact that you are upset and holding yourself accountable shows that you care and that you have reflected and grown from the experience. So it’s time to stop berating yourself and judging your actions.
Forgive yourself like you would with a friend or a love one. When you forgive and let go of the guilt and shame, you give yourself the power to change your story.
Last but not least, be your own best friend! Give yourself the gift of being the kind of person you would most like to spend the time with.
When you catch yourself talking negatively, change it to a more positive and supportive voice. Be nice to yourself.
You deserve it.