We have been taught to search for faults, to find the shortcomings not only in ourselves but in others. This is unfortunate for many reasons.
By focusing on “what’s wrong,” we lose the opportunity to turn towards ourselves and those around us with acceptance and compassion. Reflecting upon innate worth opens doors to love and learning.
Through awareness, we can identify what makes us human. This shared humanity is what is most deserving of kindness and respect. Cultivating gratitude and realistic appreciation of self and others can be challenging — but comes with big payoffs.
For today, begin by regarding yourself with kindness. Write down ten sentences that represent who you are and the gifts you provide to the world. Think about the ways in which your life is enriched by these traits and observe any feelings of gratitude that arise as you complete this exercise.
I am adventurous and enjoy challenges.
I am a creative individual who contributes thoughtfully to my world.
I am a brave leader who has tried initiatives few others have dreamed of.
I am a considerate friend and reach out to those I care about.
I am generous and give mindfully to others.
I am disciplined and complete goals I set out for myself.
I am energetic and sincere.
I am a compassionate person who is willing to consider the worldview of other people.
I am trustworthy and keep my word.
I am loving and passionate, dedicated and accepting.
After writing your sentences, take time to review each statement.
“i met a woman who knew pain the same way i did… who cried as much as i did, drank as much wine as i did, ate as much pasta as i did and who’s heart was bigger than her whole body. she immediately felt like a sister to me.” Ariana gushed for Lady Gaga.
Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King
Friends since 1976, this duo continues to defend and cheer each other on. “We have talked about everything and nothing,” says Gayle King. “I’ve been to five therapists…Nobody has been a better therapist than Oprah!”
Helen Keller was 19 months old when she lost her eyesight and hearing. 20-year-old Ann Sullivan became her teacher. The rest is history.
Tracee Ellis Ross and Samira Nasr
“…she is not a shapeshifter, changing her point of view with the times, but has a clarity and continuity of vision built from life experience, impeccable taste, a hunger for knowledge, and a love of people,” says Tracee Ellis Ross of friend Samira Nasr.
Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert
From sports rivals to supportive allies, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert built mutual admiration through sport and have shared commendable leadership, grace, and friendship.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
“Weirdly, I remember thinking, ‘My friend is here! My friend is here!’ Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone.” Tina Fey’s friendship with Amy Poehler is one for the books.
Women in U.K. Parliament and Meghan Markle
“We share an understanding of the abuse and intimidation which is now so often used as a means of disparaging women from getting on with our very important work.” Women of U.K. Parliament issued a strong statement in support of Meghan Markle.
Eleanor Roosevelt and Pauli Murray exchanged hundreds of letters throughout their friendship, uniting over debate and civic cause. Roosevelt notably wrote about her “firebrand” friend in the Feb 1953 issue of Ebony, years before the Civil Rights Movement.
Beyonce and Michelle Obama
“Every time I see her, she inspires me, she empowers me, she encourages me,” says Beyonce of Michelle Obama.
Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts
The friendship between Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts spans ALMOST 40 YEARS. Talk about #goals.
14 people from around the world signed up to join me in a small experiment: For two weeks, I would commit to daily discussions focused on Good Things.
I spoke with Italians, Brits, folks in the United States, Sweden, and Nepal. On some days I had to talk myself up for the session; other days I looked forward to thirty minutes of positivity.
At the beginning of each call, I asked participants to rank themselves on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 for on-the-floor depression and 10 for something close to contagious joy). At the end of our call, I asked for another self-ranking. 12 out of the 14 participants reported an increase in positive feelings. The other two reported no change, having already reported high levels of feeling. I, too, found myself feeling better at the end of the calls.
But beyond feeling better, I felt seen. Those thirty minutes became a plug-in of support, encouragement, and connection. Many participants echoed battles with imposter syndrome — “Am I good enough, capable enough, strong enough, ready enough, productive enough, gentle enough, prepared enough?” Time management was another expressed hurdle, but it was rephrased as a goal that could be conquered.
And in all of these calls, it became clear that even when the world seems upside down, we have the ability to write our own narratives. We have the choice to fall into old, self-sabotaging coping strategies or tap into traits that can set us up for something greater. We can choose to see ourselves through a compassionate lens, or we can cling to memories that no longer apply. Our stories can become ones of curiosity and growth.
There’s no telling when or if things will return to “normal.” This experiment, however, reminded me there are many things still in our control. We can make time to connect, and we can train our minds to focus on creation, empathy, and compassion — for ourselves and for others. I’m thankful to all those who participated in this experiment with me.
Try for yourself: Set a calendar of participants (ask friends, family, and colleagues), keep a journal of notes, and record pre- and post- rankings for each call. Let me know how it goes.