Within Team Cherish, our focus is often the “I”. This is because it is our belief that one cannot truly be happy or reach their maximum potential without loving and understanding themselves. It is through self-love that we are able to make changes in our lives for the better, even difficult ones. Without valuing ourselves and putting ourselves forward as a priority, we damage our potential and our happiness. However, this does not mean that kindness to others is not only important, but also vital.
In our world today, it is easy to get sucked in to a philosophy of “Doesn’t affect me!” Many of us, due to the vast numbers of scam artists, won’t give money to strangers who beg outside gas stations or on street corners. We are even suspicious, for good reason, of charitable institutions, and not only unknown institutions, but ones such as The Red Cross and The Humane Society. The question is what does this do to our collective psyche? Do we want to live in a world that is inherently suspicious and cruel? Where, if you are down, and have no one to help you up, you stay down? There are, indeed, a growing number of people that believe they have no responsibility for anyone but themselves, following such philosophies such Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, or The Libertarian Party rhetoric. In these, the “I” is not just important- it is everything. This hyper-focus on self, even to the detriment of others, is not what Team Cherish attempts to nurture. Team Cherish wants everyone to cherish him or herself, but cherishing others is also extremely important.
I believe that part of loving and cherishing yourself is loving thy neighbor. It is often through acts of kindness to those around you, including strangers, that we realize our own ability to affect change. In today’s world, it can feel as though an individual has no power, leaving one to accept the status quo as is. The “status quo” can be as big as corruption in the government or those fifteen pounds you want to lose. It is the overall feeling of helplessness that can permeate throughout our lives. Helping others, acts of kindness- these things put the power back in the individual’s hands. It reminds us that we can do great things, and they don’t have to be large to be meaningful.
However, since there are so many people out there waiting to take advantage of people’s kindness, this must be done in a way that you are still cherishing yourself. You don’t have to be a doormat to be kind. Follow a few simple rules to keep your kindness productive and beneficial for you, as well as those you help. First, never hurt yourself in order to feel giving. It is one thing to give and not be able to go to the movies that weekend or not buy a pair of shoes you don’t exactly need, it is another to give away your food money. We can all make sacrifices in order to help others, but make sure those sacrifices are not so detrimental that you become the one needing help. Second, never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If something doesn’t feel right, something seems like a scam, or you worry that the $10.00 you donated will go in shareholders pockets, listen to your gut. I am not saying don’t volunteer at the soup kitchen because the homeless make you sad. Getting out of your comfort zone is a good and healthy practice, and facing harsh realities can be an eye-opener. What I mean is if you feel taken advantage of, don’t do it. Find ways to give back to those that need it that won’t hurt you and that make you feel good about yourself.
If you don’t have extra money, donate your time. If you don’t have time to donate, there are many other ways to help and there are many different types of groups that need it. Participate in giving away old clothes and furniture to places that help veterans, or even a Goodwill. Share pictures on social media of the shelter animals looking for homes. There are a million different ways to help and through helping, you will find more love and happiness for yourself. You will remember that, even though much of the world is cruel and bitter, it isn’t all bad. The good starts with people, individuals, who refuse to give up on the world or themselves. Self-love is not about being selfish or self-centered; it is about valuing yourself as a person. Part of that happiness is realizing that we are all valuable and helping others shows them that they too, regardless of where they stand in society, are worthy. That, in itself, is a noble thing.