Advice on Loving Yourself, Being Present and Finding Motivation.
Dear Andrew. . .
This is a new series, called Dear Andrew, where you can ask me questions and I will share my responses to some of them.
If you like this series or want to ask me questions, let me know in the comments or feel free to respond to this email. You can also send me a message on Instagram.
As for this week’s newsletter, I asked if you had any questions on my Instagram Story last week. Here are a few that spoke to me and that I want to share with you. I hope you enjoy.
The responses below are some of the most important lessons I think I have learned, but that does not mean you need to agree with them wholeheartedly. We are all at various points in our lives and, depending on where we are, the answers we are looking for or need might be very different. So please, use my advice and thoughts as a starting point; use them as a base to form your own opinion and answers to these questions. Finally, remember sometimes there is no right answer and the most important thing is simply being curious enough to ask the question.
How do you learn to love yourself more?”
In my opinion, the first step to any form of love is acceptance. For self-love, this means we must learn to accept ourselves. We must realize we will always be us, no matter what we change.
When I was younger, there were a lot of things I wanted to ‘fix’ about myself. For example, I wanted to be taller, smarter, better looking, the list went on and on. But after awhile, I realized a lot of the things I wanted to change were unchangeable; I realized that these are the cards I have been dealt and they will always be my cards.
Once I accepted who I was, I started enjoying my life much more. I noticed that when I would take time for myself to just relax I was less in my head. For example, when I would go outside I started to really pay attention to the way the sun shined and how the rain fell, both I realized are beautiful. In turn, this made my ‘me-time’ that much more enjoyable, not because I was thinking about myself during this time but because I was able to focus on things other than myself, which is one of the most rejuvenating and nourishing things we can do for ourselves.
True love grows when we are able to do this; it grows when we are able to pay attention to the beauty of the people and things around us instead of being fixated on who we are and who we are not. Being able to do this first requires self-acceptance; the realization that this is our life and it will always be our life. Because once we accept ourselves and the situations we have been dealt, there is no ‘real’ other choice but to love everything, including ourselves.
As a final point, I also want to remind whoever is reading this that acceptance does not imply complacency. It does not mean we have to or that we should accept things staying the same. Real love is when we are able to accept ourselves or others while also making the best parts of us even better.
How can we be there in the present? How can we not take this moment for granted?”
Being present is a muscle and, like any muscle, it is something we must train and nurture. The first step in training is to realize when you are not being present, it is to catch yourself being lost in thought. A great way to practice this is through mindfulness meditation.
For example, when someone first starts mindfulness meditation, one of the first things they are told to do is close their eyes and pay attention to their breath. At first, this sounds easy, but if you have ever tried to follow your breath while meditating, you know it is incredibly challenging. It is challenging because thoughts will constantly be coming into your head while you try to meditate; sometimes you will start thinking about the tasks you have to do that day or other random things will capture your attention and this will distract you from your breath. In its most basic form, mindfulness meditation is simply noticing when you get distracted and then coming back to the present moment by following your breath again. Over time, the more you catch yourself, the easier the practice becomes and the easier it is to follow your breath.
The same principles apply in living your life and being present in the moment. The present moment is just like your breath. Thoughts will come into your head throughout the day and, to be more present, all you have to do is notice when you are getting distracted. You will likely never get to a point where you will never be distracted, but the more you catch yourself, the easier coming back to the present will be. Eventually, it will become a reflex, like waking up from a dream. You will also find yourself staying in the present moment more, just like a long distance runner is able to run farther the more they practice.
How can I be more motivated and consistent?
Motivation is not very useful on its own. It is one thing to be motivated and it is another thing to have something to be motivated about.
If we look at the definition of the word motivation, it means “to induce or incentivize someone to act.” There is nothing inherently wrong with incentives. As a whole, society needs incentives to help us prioritize what is most important. For instance, renewable energy incentives are a great example. They encourage us to buy alternative products that are better for the environment. However, incentives can only do so much. They do not inform us where we should focus our incentives in the first place.
The same is true for motivation. It is one thing to be motivated to wake up early to write a book, and it is another thing to know what to write about. To know what to write and make, we must look for something else; we must look for inspiration. While motivation can get our engines going when they may have otherwise stayed dormant, inspiration is what tells our engines where to go.
However, inspiration is not something to wait around for. Inspiration comes after we start trying. It comes from the realization that it is okay to make mistakes because no one will read our first drafts. Our first drafts are for us and us alone. Once we get in the rhythm of going, we will start to discover where we want to go.
In light of this, motivation and inspiration are two sides of the same coin. We cannot have a complete picture without the other. If we forget one of these sides, we will end up in an abyss. For instance, take the ambitious investment banker who has forgotten their reason why, or imagine the next DaVinci laying in bed struggling to get up.
Therefore, to be motivated, we must find inspiration and vice versa. The first step to finding them is to treat whatever we want to do like a job. If we are a writer, this means we should set aside a specific time each day to sit down at our keyboard and just type. If we are a painter, this means we should do the same with our canvas and brushes. We should do these things even when we do not want to, or when we feel like we have nothing to say.
If we get out all our bad drafts, a good draft has to follow; it is simple math. And when we look at this draft, we will realize the potential we had all along. We will realize we can create beautiful things too, just like the people that came before us.
Once we see our potential, I have a feeling we will be motivated to wake up early and do it again the next day. I have a feeling we will keep waking up and eventually we will make something better than we ever hoped for. Something we never imagined could come true. Something more beautiful than the universe ever knew.
Questions for Dear Andrew?
If you want to ask me something, feel free to respond to this email or any others from me, or you can also ask me via Instagram.
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