The Art of Living Well: Knowing Yourself

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Dr. Purushothaman
August 31, 2013

Living well is more than a skill: it is an art in itself. To live well in this day and age is by no means easy, in spite of the advancement of modern technoligy. Life itself is complicated and challenging; to live well requires the art of manipulating the skills of living a happy and meaningful life.

A happy and meaningful life is forever bubbling with activities. It involves activities of self, as well as activities with other people around you. In other words, activities become the raw materials of living well. However, these activities, which are the essence of living well, may cause physical, emotional, and psychological problems not just in self, but also in others through interactions. Knowing yourself holds the key to the art of living well.

Knowing yourself means self-acceptance, as well as acceptance of others.

Self-acceptance is more than just "liking" yourself: essentially, you care "less" about what others think of you, but more about accepting yourself as who and what you are, while being conscious that any change in what you don't like about yourself at the present moment will be forthcoming if you so desire to make the change.

Self-acceptance is also unconditional acceptance of self, which is showing an intent to accomplish the goal you have set your mind to achieve, but without assessing or rating yourself. In other words, the focus is on the intent and effort, rather than on the outcome. Conditional self-acceptance, on the other hand, is feeling "good" about yourself when you have reached the goal.Your "good" feelings, thoughts, or actions make you accept yourself. But that attitude of self-acceptance is conditional in that it is based upon your feeling "good" about yourself. That is to say, if you fail to reach that goal, you cannot and will not be totally accepting yourself.

Knowing yourself means understanding that your Creator has created you for who you are and what you are. Your worth lies within yourself, just as Ann Frank in "The Diary of Ann Frank" said, "Human worth does not lie in riches or power, but in character or goodness." If you believe in the goodness in yourself, you will have unconditional self-acceptance. More importantly, you will also know how to treat another individual you encounter in your life: if you can totally accept yourself for who and what you are, you will also learn how to accept another individual for who and what he or she is. Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, said the key to instantly and successfully relating to people of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds is knowing that your fellow human being has the same desire to be happy and to avoid suffering, just like yourself. In other words, if you can accept yourself for who and what you are, you will also learn how to accept another individual for who and what he or she is. It is all about acceptance!

Indeed, self-acceptance and acceptance of others may remove many obstacles in life that are caused by difficult human relationships and problematic interactions. Self-acceptance and acceptance of others cherish loving kindness, which is an act of compassion that you consciously express to another individual simply because that individual, like yourself, has the same desire to be happy and to avoid suffering. Accordingly, during any conflict or interaction with others, your response naturally becomes a reflection of your loving kindness, rather than an aggressive reaction. Your world would be much better off if you have self-acceptance and acceptance of others.

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