Self to truly get and keep it  

Most people want to feel good about themselves.  They want to be noticed, appreciated, to feel like they matter.  But how do we grab this feeling that often seems so hard to come by?

Is it wearing new clothes?  Driving a great car? Hanging out with cool people?  All those things can bring us attention and maybe make us feel good for a short while. But what happens when the clothes aren't new any more, the car gets a dent in it, the cool friends move onto someone else?  Do we lose our sense of who we are and what we're worth?  And should our value be tied up in things outside ourselves, things we have no control over?  Good questions!

How we feel about ourselves - our self esteem - is a complex challenge.  In order to get along in life, we need to be able to create a sense of ourselves that lasts longer than someone complimenting us on new clothes.  It has to come from inside us.  If the only things that make us feel good are clothes, cars and friends, then we will constantly be relying on those unreliable sources to determine how we feel on any given day.  To know that this external things are not enough, all we need to do is look at some of the celebrities who seem to crash and burn despite seemingly having everything - the best clothes, the sweetest cars, the coolest celebrity friends and more money than they know what to do with.  Some end up in rehab searching for meaning, for true self-esteem. 

Ever notice where celebrities seem to find that esteem?  Mostly in two places - accomplishing something they really want to achieve (a new movie or song, a sports record) or giving back in some way to those who have less than they do.  Both of these activities challenge us to be our best selves.  Both make us feel good about ourselves. 

Let's talk about taking on a challenge.  No one can take away the feeling of taking on something difficult and overcoming it - from learning how to play an instrument to taking the state tests that we're forced to take but don't count in our grade, from learning to drive to figuring out the newest app on your cell phone.  Feels good when we figure something out, when we go above what we think we can do or what people expect us to do.

Being able to help someone else in some capacity can really boost your self esteem.  Research has shown that when a simple act of kindness is done, the level of seratonin (the feel good chemical in the brain) rises and immune system gets stronger not only for the person receiving the act of kindness but also for the one performing it.   This amazing boost even happens for anyone who witnesses the kindness.

How can you fit these ideas into your life?  Try to do a kindness - big or small as part of your daily life.   Help pick up someone's books after they drop them in the hall, pay for the coffee or donut for the next person in line, make eye contact and thank someone who waited on you.  Offer to help someone figure out their new app, shoot a basket - whatever you're good at.  Or on a larger scale, donate some of your time to a local charity or money when it's needed.  As this is being written, the people in Haiti are struggling to overcome the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that has devastated their country.  Even sending $10 can help them immensely - and you in also in the process. 

Self esteem is like the old fashioned thermometers.  Every time you do something good for someone else, take on a difficult challenge, get something done you're supposed to do, your self esteem level rises.  You feel great and no one can take that away from you.

Every time you try to get away with something, refuse to help someone, act in a negative way when you know you could do better or hurt someone willingly, your esteem takes a hit.

The choice is always yours.  Take a few minutes and think of all the good things you've already done for others and all that you've already learned and accomplished.  Be proud of all the great things you already are and keep building on those positive feelings that no one can ever take away from you.













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