I've read enough self-help books to give me a degree in "Self-Help-Bookology." That's not to say that I should have a degree in "knowing it all" - it just means that I have searched relentlessly for help and should now have a piece of paper with a decorative seal on it that says I've read through A LOT of people's opinions.
And here I am about to give you some of mine. :)
Because there are times in my life when I sit back and think about all the things that I have read and applied to my ACTUAL LIFE - things that have actually helped me. These are things I might say on my deathbed to my posterity as they navigate life and make all the mistakes they are going to make. And this is the best I can come up with:
1. LOVE YOURSELF - Do the work that it takes (and it DOES TAKE WORK) to wholeheartedly and compassionately love yourself through all the ups and downs of life. You are going to mess up. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to do things you wish you didn't do. And yes, it is also good to try and make good choices, set goals, make progress, and maintain a healthy growth mindset, but you DO NOT have to be perfect. You can put yourself first, which is NOT selfish. You can set boundaries. You can say no when you need to. You can advocate on your own behalf. You can take care of your own mental and physical health and well-being. YOU are your best shot at creating your most authentic, meaningful life. Also, there will be times when you do not love yourself. Fight hard to love yourself anyway. There is probably not an "arrival" point here. It is quite possibly life's greatest ongoing work.
2. LOVE OTHERS - While you are figuring out how to love yourself, you can also do the same for others. People can be mean. (I know this because I am mean sometimes, too). It's hard to be human. There is so much going on and so many different personalities and life experiences that we are guaranteed to struggle to work through it all. Show compassion. Be kind and respectful. Give and serve when you can. Try to understand other points of view, but don't be a pushover (always go back to number one when needed). As Elizabeth Lesser has said "do no harm, but take no sh*t". Yes, you can set boundaries, call out bad behavior, and do the work to help create a more compassionate world, but always come back to LOVE. Also, stop calling people "toxic". It's just mean and also not true. Situations can be "toxic". People are just human. Just like you.
3. LIVE THE SERENITY PRAYER (which could also just be called a "Serenity Mindset" if the concept of prayer is triggering)
After ALLLLL the "law of attraction" and "prosperity gospel" brain-wiring sh*t I've had to sort through (thank you, therapy), I've decided I think the real "secret" to life can be narrowed down to one simple plea:
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."
Plain and simple.
Now you don't have to go get your degree in Self-Help-Bookology and you can take the money you would have spent on the latest "You Can Have It All" workshop and donate it to a reputable charity that fully discloses its financials instead. :)
(The concepts in this blog post do not replace the need for proper mental health care. If you are experiencing mental illness, please seek help through a licensed mental health professional.)