Beyond Self-Love: Navigating the Path to True Happiness

In a sense, individuals globally are increasingly embracing self-affection.

Explore “how to cultivate self-love” online, and you’ll encounter over 200,000 search results. Recommendations encompass “embracing all aspects of oneself,” “authentic self-expression,” and “even on unproductive days, providing self-encouragement.” Commend yourself as you navigate through your day, and so forth.

Everyone has been apprised of self-worth – there’s no necessity to feign amiability with individuals you find disagreeable, no obligation to compromise your preferences due to others’ perspectives; others’ outlooks and judgments hold no sway, and one’s own course of life must be autonomously determined, etc.

Various social media platforms appear as an excessively fertile realm. Provided our willingness, it’s facile to find concurrence – whether through posting meticulously crafted selfies or articulating highly individualistic declarations, finding concord within this world isn’t arduous. Echoes reverberate across the expansive sea.

“To believe unequivocally in oneself regardless of circumstances,” this notion is deeply entrenched in people’s hearts. In this epoch where the ethos of “self-love” is both espoused and practiced, life seems markedly simplified – commencing with self-examination and culminating in self-realization, where nothing else holds significance but the self.

However, does this genuinely engender greater happiness?

I didn’t – at least not whilst vexed due to prolonged queues at the supermarket, or when my meticulously crafted discourse had to be abridged owing to the delay of a preceding speaker, or when the delivery person for my takeaway, having misplaced the order, toiled an additional half-hour before finally presenting the spilled soup to me.

Had I not cherished myself so ardently, I might have merely sighed despondently. However, having affirmed that “I am significant,” “I am unique,” and “I merit service that gratifies me,” any mundane relational setbacks would be construed as affronts.

One who perennially feels slighted and disillusioned cannot find contentment regardless of circumstance.

Accepting and understanding oneself is crucial, yet if one exclusively prioritizes self-acceptance, they may overlook the friction, anguish, and tribulations inherent to life, attributing these discomforts to persecution by fate, subsequently querying why the world fails to provide solace, forgetting that it never pledged an untroubled and joyous existence.

The demarcation between “self-love” and “narcissism” is so nebulous that we often find ourselves straying into the latter territory unwittingly.

See me, approve of me, accord me preferential treatment, attentively heed my opinions and promptly implement them; you mustn’t disregard me, you mustn’t refute me, not even objective criticism; I am entitled to the best, and I heed solely the reverberations of my heart; nothing else carries import. These sentiments do not constitute genuine self-love but rather a form of senseless usurpation.

The yearning for authority, feelings of superiority, vanity, a sense of self-importance, and a craving for self-expression are the five “tentacles” of narcissism enumerated in “The Age of Narcissism.” Once one traverses the threshold of narcissism, happiness becomes extraordinarily elusive.

It’s commendable to adopt oneself as the measure of all things, yet it also entails bearing the weight of all things. Certainly, one may elect a vocation and switch jobs according to personal predilections, but is this truly the prudent choice? No one can say for certain.

When everyone’s decisions are predicated on subjective volition, any circumstantial evidence becomes fragile and meaningless. Simultaneously, our rational faculties render us mistrustful of any decision lacking evidence. Consequently, whilst we may feel at ease in “being ourselves,” we also experience trepidation and unease owing to uncertainty.

Indeed, one may aspire to be anything they desire, but are they genuinely cognizant of their aspirations and capabilities? Do they truly possess such a multitude of lucid and unequivocal choices in life?

If “self-love” proves to be a cul-de-sac in the labyrinth of happiness, what then is the correct course of action? I believe, presently, the answer may lie in “Moderate self-regard.”

Refocus your attention away from yourself—eschew inquiries such as “Am I the most attractive, am I the most unique?” Instead, train yourself to observe and appreciate others genuinely.

Refuse to fixate excessively on yourself—dispense with questions like “Am I significant? Does anyone acclaim me?” Instead, redirect your focus to “Have I acquitted myself commendably? Am I endeavoring sufficiently to foster harmonious relationships with others?” Make earnest endeavors.

Don’t overvalue yourself—abstain from queries such as, “Am I content, am I feeling fulfilled?” Instead, invest this self-regard into life itself. The blossoms unfurling before you, the clouds dispersing across the sky, the waxing and waning of the moon—all are facets of life. Whether or not you adore it, life persists in its essence, accepting you, and you ought to reciprocate that acceptance.

As eloquently articulated in “The Age of Narcissism”: “Happiness stems from the process of transcending oneself and melding with the world.”

“To love oneself” truly implies that at times, one need not love oneself excessively. Permit the birds to take flight into the heavens, allow the fish to plunge into the depths of the sea. Amidst the multitude of beings inhabiting this world, why confine oneself due to excessive self-adoration?

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