On May 4, 2010, Robert Holden, Ph.D., was the guest on my radio show Flourish!. Dr. Holden is the Founder and Director of the Happiness Project and author of many books on happiness and success, including Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good Fast (Hay House, 2007). Though I had known about Robert’s work for a number of years, I didn’t truly appreciate his gift to the world until I heard him read a poem by Hafiz entitled, I Know the Way You Can Get on the CD that accompanies Kim Rosen’s wonderful book Saved by a Poem. I began the radio show by asking Robert to recite that poem. And it set up a wonderful vibration for the rest of our time together.
He shared his family story with me, growing up in a tiny town in England with a very loving family, which had problems like many other families. His mother was afflicted with periodic depressions that “came out of nowhere” and then disappeared. His father drank too much and eventually ended up homeless. From those early defining experiences, Robert kept asking himself over and over again “What is real?” And the answer he kept getting was “love.” And so, starting in his 20’s, Robert decided to let love and loving guide his life. This included loving all aspects of himself and others, especially the parts that he or others considered unlovable, such as the parts of our bodies that we don’t like and the emotions we consider unacceptable.
In fact, the kernel of truth that runs through all of Robert’s work is this: No amount of self-improvement can make up for a lack of self-acceptance. So true. Although it’s a bit of a paradox, when you start with the mindset of self-acceptance, your efforts to improve yourself will be far more effective. In the book Happiness Now!, there’s a wonderful poem on self-acceptance. One stanza is:
Without self acceptance, you are always hiding.
With self acceptance, your spirit is gliding.
Nice line, eh? When you catch yourself in the inevitable self-judgment and self-criticism spin that our ego so often engages in, say the following out loud to yourself:
I accept myself unconditionally right now.
And you might also add a fun little touch to encourage self-acceptance, like:
And I am completely adorable.
There, now don’t you feel happier? Right now?