Are you one of the lucky ones who was able to pass through the pandemic in good health and relative comfort? Did 2020 reframe your sense of happiness by helping you appreciate how fortunate you are?
That kind of happiness comes from having your basic needs met. Maslow defined them on his famous pyramid as the three low-level needs: physiological, safety, and love and belonging.
Most of the time, those of us who have access to read these words aren’t concerned with low-level needs to feel happy. We’re usually hovering somewhere near level 4, where the ego-related issues of self-respect and self-esteem reside, or as Maslow defined them: “self-respect is the belief that you are valuable and deserving of dignity, and self-esteem is confidence in your potential for personal growth and accomplishments”.
Level 4 is where you tap into the three words that you can say to yourself in order to feel happier any day of the year:
I am enough.
Believing that you are enough is almost an act of defiance in our capitalist, achievement-oriented culture, which constantly reminds us of what we should have, do, and be before we can feel good about ourselves.
The point is not that you should avoid aspiring for more. It’s that in order to believe that you deserve more, in order to not rely on the crippling need for others’ approval, and in order to have the self-confidence to go after what you want, you have to believe that you are already enough.
You won’t believe it all of the time, of course. You’ll fall off the horse. Feelings of self-doubt and resistance will naturally arise. That’s okay. Resistance is what gives meaning to your actions. It signals that you want something badly enough to have a fear of failing at it.
What matters is what you do with that resistance, and what you can do is continually tell yourself that you are enough.
When you fully embody ‘I am enough’, you start to feel that you also have enough, so that the ‘things’ and accomplishments you pursue emanate from a place of wholeness, not emptiness.
From there, it’s just a short hop, step and a jump to spend most of your days hanging around level 5, or what Maslow deemed ‘self-actualization’. That’s where you have the privilege to focus on fulfilling your potential as a person. An imperfectly complete person, with nothing to prove, and plenty of reason to be happy on this International Happiness Day.