A Buddhability Guide to Self-Love

(Photo above by Artem Podrez)

Each year when February rolls around, you feel the pressure to be with another person pretty much everywhere you go. There’s almost an assumption that if you’re not with someone, you must be unhappy and wishing for a partner.

Romantic comedies don’t help. They have us thinking that we’ll trip on a leaf, someone will catch us and boom—next week we’ll be married and living happily ever after.

But is that really what brings us happiness? Of course, it’s wonderful to enjoy your life with another person, but healthy relationships begin with loving ourselves. The real question is (whether you’re in a relationship or not) how can I love myself on a daily basis? How can I truly believe in myself?

The starting point of Buddhism is that each person has the ability to become happy just as they are. The type of love that actually contributes to our self-confidence and self-worth is based on realizing that we have unlimited courage, wisdom and compassion—just as we are.

Self-Love + Self-Worth

Simply trying to think that we love ourselves or that we deserve the best in any human relationship will only take us so far. And without action, it’s nothing more than an abstract ideal.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is more than reciting a particular phrase. It’s the name of this inherent worth that has always been in our lives. But maybe we’ve never experienced it or seen it in action.

We chant morning and evening each day as a daily reminder that our lives are worthy. It’s the ultimate expression of self-love.

The worth of our lives is not determined by who decides to love us or not. From the Buddhist perspective, there is no substitute for you.

The worth of our lives is not determined by who decides to love us or not. From the Buddhist perspective, there is no substitute for you.

If you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy in a relationship

The renowned Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda shares in an exchange with youth that when you love yourself and focus on your growth, that love will naturally extend to those around you. Love isn’t about sacrificing yourself or becoming someone you’re not.

Ikeda shares in more detail:

Happiness is not something that someone else, like a lover, can give to us. We have to achieve it for ourselves. And the only way to do so is by developing our character and capacity as human beings—by fully maximizing our potential. If we sacrifice our growth and talent for love, we absolutely will not find happiness. True happiness is obtained through fully realizing our potential.

Discussions on Youth, p. 64

There’s no rush to be with someone. True love and happiness starts with our growth, it starts by creating the life we deserve and inspiring those around us to do the same.

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