Dear self (and all the critics and cynics),
Kindness, compassion, generosity, honesty and vulnerability are NOT idealistic concepts with little power or promise in today’s world.
You DO NOT have to live a life on the defense, always protecting your feelings and values from the harsh world that you sometimes feel you live in.
I know it is easy to feel pessimistic and cynical when you are constantly inundated with bad news. I know it can be hard to trust people when society has programmed you to “go it alone” or “protect your own interests first”.
I know when you’re feeling particularly anxious or in the depths of your depression you may feel like hiding under the covers and never reaching out to a single human being ever again.
But since today you are feeling particularly grounded and calm and confident in your values it’s a good moment to write down how you truly feel and what you truly believe in – even if living into those values is not always easy.
Remember what Brené Brown says, “Our values should be so crystallized in our minds, so infallible, so precise and clear and unassailable, that they don’t feel like a choice – they are simply a definition of who we are in our lives. In those hard moments, we know that we are going to pick what’s right, right now, over what is easy. Because that is integrity – choosing courage, over comfort; it’s choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and it’s practicing your values, not just professing them.”
Remember what your values are: Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, Vulnerability and Compassion.
Remember that cynicism, judgment and self-preservation are acts of cowardice.
Remember that practicing and living your values is courageous – you are courageous for being true to who you are.
Remember that people like John Lennon, Mister Rogers and the Dalai Lama are actually REAL people, not fairytales.
Remember that peace CAN and should be given a chance. Remember that kindness CAN be a way to success. Remember that compassion CAN lead to happiness.
Remember that generosity does not mean you have no boundaries.
Remember that honesty is always the best policy.
Remember that vulnerability is strength.
Remember that these values and practices can be challenging for others to face. Have empathy for those who do not know how to respond to your values – everyone has their own history and experiences and they may not always understand where you’re coming from.
Remember that it’s easy to profess these values but it can be very challenging to stay to true to them. It’s ok if you falter.
Remember that there will always be people who share these values and who value you – even on the days when you feel misunderstood and alone.
Remember that it’s easy for people to roll their eyes or laugh or call you an idealist or a hippie for believing in such things. Do not take responsibility for those types of reactions.
Remember that you live and have grown up in a position of privilege that allows you access to these types of values. Don’t forget that not all people in this world can afford to invest their time in things like generosity and vulnerability. Don’t forget that not all people in this world have experienced kindness and compassion and honesty. Don’t forget the privileged place from which you have developed these values – but don’t be ashamed of it either.
Remember that you too have judged and been critical and cynical – it’s a normal part of human behavior and you will make those mistakes again.
Remember that on your worst days, your best self is still inside of you somewhere.
Remember that while you may feel silly and alone as your write this – there are people out there who feel the same. You are not alone. You are not some naïve young girl who can’t face the reality of the world you live in.
Honesty, Kindness, Generosity, Vulnerability and Compassion are REAL and possible and part of who you are.
And it’s ok if you get lost for a little bit and have trouble connecting to these parts of you. Be patient – you’ll come back to this place soon enough.
Be proud of yourself for holding these beliefs.
Be vulnerable enough to put them out there.
Be courageous enough to invite others to join you.