I hate to start off this week's column with a sad story but circumstances give me no other choice. You see, it was my misfortune to sit next to a miserable person at a meeting a few days ago. I spent a couple of very long and uncomfortable hours in the company of this one very miserable person. You know, the kind that feels that the world is giving them a bad deal, always has rotten luck and constantly complains about everyone and everything. You know, the type so full of envy that they cannot stand to see anyone do well "Yeah, If I had his connections, I would have..."
Even the Love Doctor can be slowly worn down by a constant flow of negative words and feelings. What makes things worse is that there are so many of these miserable folks around that there's always at least one at every meeting or gathering. And due to my kind and considerate face it seems that the miserable person always seeks out the Love Doctor. However, like the good book says, to those who receive much, much is expected, so I smile politely and do my best not to let the misery dim my normally bright and chipper attitude.
Even so, its hard to understand how some of these people have the nerve to be insulted when people avoid them. You know like that cranky old relative who complains about everything under the sun every time you visit, and then complains that you don't visit more often. Most of us prefer crabs boiled or steamed, not sitting across the room complaining.
Happy people are a joy to be around, but its normal to avoid "les miserables". I've noticed one thing that truly happy people seem to have in common, they like themselves. It's wonderful to approve of yourself and believe in your ability to do what you do. I call it self love. Don't leave home without it.
On the other hand, most miserable people don't like themselves. Think about being stuck with someone you don't like every moment of every day, no wonder they are miserable. What's funny is that most of these folks convince themselves that they are miserable because of someone or something else. Wrong!
As always, The Love Doctor has a true story to illustrate the point. One year while I was teaching in high school, I did something that amazed the students and established my school yard credibility. (or as the kids would put it later, "The man knows what he is talking about.") As soon as a new class entered the room, I bet them that I could pick out the A & B students before I even knew their names. To the amazement of the class full of fifteen and sixteen year olds, I selected a few kids and had them stand. Each time I selected a kid, the class murmured their wonderment. "How's he doing that?", was the basic question muttered.
At the end of the selection, the kids begged me to explain how I had chosen the better students long before I knew anything about them. So, after I let them beg sufficiently, I explained that I simply chose the kids who were well groomed, dressed neatly, but not expensively, and those who wore little, if any, expensive jewelry. Behaving as I expected they would, most of the class became unsettled, shaken to their little peer pressure souls by what I had been able to do. Almost in unison, they asked, "Hey, what difference does that make?"
Little did the class know that they were like helpless flies in a skillfully constructed web. They had fallen into my trap. Since they had an unanswered question on their minds, I had their full attention as I led the helpless pack of pimpled adolescents into the lecture and discussion of "self esteem" that I had planned for that first day of class.
I began by explaining that the kids who "did good", felt good about themselves, naturally. They had no need to try to make themselves feel good by dressing in designer clothing or expensive jewelry or hanging out in large groups. The good students carried their self esteem inside, others tried to buy, wear or hang out with some theirs.
Another thing I noticed, while teaching, was that there was a noticeable increase in fighting when the kids took exams. Those students who were the non-achievers started most of the fights. They had blown it on the exams and deep down inside they believed that they themselves were to blame, but decided to blame others for their bad feelings. For whatever reason, they didn't do what they knew they should have done. They didn't respect themselves. It's hard to love and appreciate someone you don't respect. They were miserable.
Miserable grown folks are usually suffering from the same problem. They have done something, of which they don't approve, or haven't done what they believe they should have done. They've lost respect for themselves, lost self esteem and self love. They are miserable with themselves, but will usually blame you, me or the world for their misery.
There's only one cure for this type of misery, doing it right. Doing what right? Well it really doesn't matter, almost anything will do. A Job, a hobby, school, cooking, raising kids, almost anything will do. Just as long as a person insist on "doing it right".
You know when all things are considered, there's two things required for you to truly respect yourself. First, you have to "do it right" by living by the morals you believe in. Second, remember that anything worth doing is worth doing right.
That's where self esteem really comes from, not from clothes, cars, jewelry, or what others do or say. So if you find your self saying things like "If I only had", stop it. You see you can't buy love, not even from yourself. It only comes one way and that's from "doing it right"