I just happen to be reading my own book (titled "Single File," for those of you who haven't done the same) and find myself lingering at the section "Be good to Yourself." This is an issue dear to my heart because to this day, the stereotype lingers of the unmarried as utterly selfish and navel-watching. To be sure, there's much unraveling of antiquated (and totally incorrect) thinking to be done. So here goes.
If you agree that happiness — the long-lasting, heartwarming, visceral glow — comes from decisions and is neither gift nor blessing for the very few, you're hereby invited to linger along with me and discover for yourself what it is I mean by being good to oneself. You'll have differences with me, quite possibly contradictions, and perhaps some additions of your own (I hope), but at least let's begin the conversation.
—Make stabs at different approaches to reach your heart's desire.
Don't be stuck doing things one way. Life's cafeteria has many different serving lines; don't be timid about moving to another if one isn't working for you. Flexibility is crucial in all parts of life. (Write that down!)
—Make resolutions twice a year, not just once.
Add your birthday to New Year's Day, and ring in your personal new year by nudging yourself to honor the promises you made so earnestly on the last day of December.
—Always, always reserve time for yourself.
Refresh yourself by setting aside moments (preferably the same time each day) for personal prayer, however you express it.
You need time to commune with your inner self, and it needs to be in silence and privacy. Close the door; turn off all noise; and do it without apology. This quiet time makes you a better person in all your roles.
This isn't exactly what you expected, I'm sure. Do's and don'ts will be for another time; I promise. The purpose here is to help you get over the stupidity of the idea that being good to oneself is selfishness. Not at all! What you and I are huddling about is self-interest, and believe me; that's poles apart from selfishness. The pointers here will make you less of a martyr (single parents, please note), less of a frump (for those who've given up on the externals) and, most importantly, less dependent.
Delicious irony: Treating yourself right actually makes you less selfish, because the better "fed" you are the more you have to give. As you reap satisfaction from your own efforts, it's only logical that you will develop greater faith in what life can offer, in your God — primarily in yourself. Confidence in your abilities brings with it greater optimism. The reasoning for that makes sense. The more valuable you believe yourself to be, logic dictates, the more discriminating you'll be about what you give yourself. You'll have higher standards for yourself — and in general. (A healthier diet is my No. 1 wish for you.)
You will move closer to the realization that moderation is true sophistication. Be wise for your own benefit. That's my version of being good to yourself. You know I wish it to you.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.