Don’t Leave Your 2021 Goals to Your Future Self
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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It
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A few years ago, Kamal Ravikant was in a bad way. He was miserable out of his mind. There were days when he would just lie in bed, feeling too depressed to even open the drapes. “I just didn't want to deal,” he remembers. “Deal with my thoughts. Deal with being sick. Deal with heartache. Deal with my company tanking. Deal… with… life.” “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It” is a book about what saved him. Get ready to save yourself as well!
Ravikant remembers perfectly the moment that changed everything, the moment depression turned into hope and hope paved the way toward a better future. He had been depressed for quite some time before that. On the fateful day, he was more than that – he was sick of it, he was beyond his breaking point, he was absolutely and utterly done.
But then, in that desperation, he climbed out of his bed, opened his notebook and wrote the following: “This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF.”
It took Ravikant less than a minute to write these simple words, but it had taken him a lifetime of pain and suffering to gather the strength and knowledge to write them. To grasp their power, to understand their depth and wisdom. To change his life in accordance with their meaning.
Loving yourself. The thing you’ve heard thousands of times, whether from your mother, your psychiatrist or from every second self-help book ever written. Can it be that simple? Of course, it can: it always is. It is in simplicity that truth and power lie. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” said Einstein once.
Well, Ravikant’s explanation is as simple as they come: loving yourself is what everything’s about, what everything eventually comes down to. Even if it sounds “simple enough to be idiotic” – or, maybe, precisely because of it – this is the truth: self-love is the be-all and end-all of personal happiness and well-being. The Beatles were more than right: all you need is love.
It’s one thing to grasp the power of self-love and vow to love yourself, and a completely different thing to put your words into practice. Ravikant didn’t know how to do this himself at the time. All he knew was that he had made a vow, “something far greater than a commitment” and “bigger than an I-wish or a nice-to-have.” So, he was ready to go all in – to either succeed or destroy himself trying.
To kickstart the process, Ravikant decided to turn the phrase “I love myself” into a daily mantra. He started repeating it again and again: out loud while lying in bed or showering, in his head while browsing on the net or talking to someone. To his surprise, it didn’t take long before he noticed some improvements. He started opening himself up more. His body started healing; his mind grew lighter. In less than a month, his life started getting better.
“In all honesty,” Ravikant writes, “in the beginning, I didn't believe that I loved myself. How many of us do? But it didn't matter what I believed. All that mattered was doing it and I did it the simplest way I could think, by focusing on one thought again and again and again and again until it was more on my mind than not. Imagine that. Imagine the feeling of catching yourself loving yourself without trying. It's like catching a sunset out of the corner of your eye. It will stop you.”
Although it may sound tautological, self-love begins with a fierce commitment to self-love. There’s no way around this – skip this step, and the others won’t work. It’s the way we’re built. Your conscious mind is designed to adapt and respond to what your unconscious mind believes to be true. The good news is that your unconscious mind responds to mantras. Repeat something enough times and you’ll forget that it was false at the beginning. Alcoholics Anonymous knows it, the Silicon Valley knows it as well: fake it till you make it. The formula works.
Just like many other things in life, self-love can be learned. In other words, it is just another habit, the most important of them all. And most habits come with manuals. Ravikant’s is a three-step process, as simple and applicable as his “I love myself” mantra. The three steps are: mental loop, a meditation, one question. Let’s dive a bit more into each of them.
As you know full well, our Latin name Homo sapiens can be roughly translated as “the thinking human being.” The reality is that most of the time, rather than thinking, we’re just remembering – reliving memories and “running familiar patterns and loops in our head.” We are, in other words, creatures of habit. The moment we learn how to do something, our conscious brain deposits the procedure into our adaptive unconscious, and henceforth we’re on autopilot. You learn only once how to ride a bike or how to swim; every other time, you’re just running the acquired pattern. It’s automatic.
The problem with automatic processes is that they make us feel like we don’t have a choice. Of course, we do. We can always change our habits. We just need to be focused and stubbornly persistent. A few drops of water will never dent a groove in a rock. But add enough time and enough intensity, and a river becomes inevitable.
The same applies to our thought patterns as well. A single thought may have no power at all, but repeat it often enough with intensity and rigor – and a groove will eventually emerge in your brain, absorbing all other thoughts to create your mental river. The moment the groove appears is the moment you lose control over the thought that began the process. It is the moment the initial thought starts controlling you.
All those destructive mental loops that imprison you in a state of despair and self-doubt were once no more than a single thought. It’s time to get rid of them. And the best way to demolish “the grooves of the past” is by creating a new groove, “so deep, so powerful, that your thoughts will automatically flow down this one.”
Even though mental loops begin in our conscious brain, they end up firmly entrenched within the unconscious parts of our being. And when it comes to digging down into the depths of your mind, few things work as well as meditation. Many studies have shown that people who practice meditation are more aware of their unconscious brain and more capable of controlling. Moreover, it has been shown that, in the long run, meditation goes far beyond leaving a subtle impression in our unconscious mind. Namely, it can actually transform it, in the same way a smile transforms a gloomy face.
That’s why Ravikant is pretty adamant: “Even if you don’t do anything else,” he pleads, “please do this. It will make a difference.” “This” in the previous sentence refers to practicing meditation. Ever since his vow, Ravikant meditates for seven minutes every single day. The process itself entails the following seven steps:
It’s easy to love yourself alone and in silence, while recovering from being sick. The difficult part comes when you go back to the world, when you have to face the same people and problems that made you hate and doubt yourself in the first place. That’s where step no. 3 of Ravikant’s self-love philosophy comes in: the question, the one question to rule them all. It is this: “If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this?”
Every time the answer to that question is “no,” just stop doing whatever you’re doing. Instantly. No questions asked, no explanations necessary. Rather than trying to solve the issue or overcome the feeling – or, God forbid, suppressing it – just go back to the mental loop, to the one true thought in your brain: “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.”
Ironically, doing this will make you more open to experiences and people. The same thing happened to Ravikant, who could only fall in love with another person after falling in love with himself. “When we love ourselves,” he explains, “we naturally shine, we are naturally beautiful. And that draws others to us. Before we know it, they're loving us and it's up to us to choose who to share our love with.”
Make no mistake, self-love is a superpower. It drives the darkness away. It aids your choices. It rewires bad memories into good ones. It frees you. It makes you more adept at making the distinction between rewarding and bad experiences. Above all, it helps you surrender. Once, Ravikant asked a monk how he found peace. “I said ‘yes,’” the monk replied. “To all that happened, I started saying ‘yes.’” Self-love is where all yeses begin.
If you need a one-sentence summary of Kamal Ravikant’s self-published bestseller “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It,” just read the title. If, however, you need to learn how to love yourself – well, you can do a lot worse than read the book. It will only take you an hour of your time, but it may change your life permanently.
To quote Ravikant: “Love yourself with the same intensity you would use to pull yourself up if you were hanging off a cliff with your fingers. As if your life depended upon it. Once you get going, it's not hard to do.”
Kamal Ravikant is an Indian-American tech entrepreneur and bestselling author. He made a name for himself with his debut book, the self-published “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It.” The following year,... (Read more)
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