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I meet routinely with several groups of people who are trying to improve their lives through actively pursuing various forms of self-help programs. Some of the more philosophically inclined groups might not claim that as their end goal, and would prefer some terminology more akin to understanding the universe and what thought and mind is. But even the end of that process is to have a better life. My religious groups are approaching the better life through moralizing lectures that seek to improve our relationships with other people. The spiritually inclined groups are more scientific in a way because they are actively experimenting with techniques to contact their higher being and live in greater contact with ultimate being.

All of these people are moral and well-intentioned to others as well as to themselves, but what bothers me is that when I ask if they obey the posted speed limits it seems everyone admits to driving five miles per hour or more above that limit. Most people consider me to be a rolling speed bump, because I aim to obey the law. The point being that what people say and what they do have a substantial objective difference.

So, what does this have to do with loving one’s self? Those that talk about being comfortable with themselves state emphatically that they must love themselves before they can love other people. When I have proposed the idea that they can develop the habit of loving themselves by loving other people through their behavior towards them, by being observably kind to those other people, these proclaimed self-loving people balk. They are convinced that they must be loved before they can give love, and that they must love themselves first before they can give kindness to others. Perhaps that is true for those people, as everyone must find their own path to wherever it is that they are going.

Cultivate the habit of being loving to one’s self through kind actions toward other people, because it generates the habit of being loving and kind to one’s self.

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