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Helping yourself to love yourself

Shani Bishop shares her thoughts on living a happier life wherever you are.

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Shani Bishop

There are many types of love. According to the ancient Greeks, there are eight. We tend to think of love for others when we think of love, but actually loving oneself, Philautia (love of the self), is so important.

If you are curious about the other seven, you can google them, so I'll focus on Philautia (pronounced pee-lav-TEE-ah). Self-love changes at every age. At a young age, I was so focused on what I wanted to achieve that I often neglected what was needed to maintain good physical and mental health. I don't think I am alone in this, as I see it in young people all the time. The nature of peer pressure and aspiration can prove a powerful drug to the young. However, as I get older, I see more clearly that understanding yourself, being kind to yourself and setting boundaries are the roots of happiness.

There are so many facets to self-love. The foundations for keeping yourself well and showing yourself love are eating well, exercising and sleeping. If you take the time to invest in doing these well, then you give yourself the maximum chance of feeling good.

If I exercise, sleeping takes care of itself, but if you have a lot on your mind, try this: Theirs is a lot of advice and support online.

Denmark is widely regarded for its healthy lifestyle, which includes food and exercise, and once the foundations of sleep, exercise and food are nailed, what's next?

There are lots of studies that show that close networks of friends and family help promote happiness. The more interconnections you create, the better you feel. The Danes are good at this, but this can be tough for foreigners living in Denmark. Expats and foreign friends make for an interesting and exciting life in the short term, but the sadness of losing them when they or you move on is really hard. This is often why people settle permanently and integrate into their home countries because they tire of the constant movement. The key in this situation is how you view friendships. Before I moved to Denmark, I always wanted deeper friendships. However, the expat experience has taught me to value relationships in the moment and know they would ebb and flow like life.

If you are looking for inspiration about how to live better, I highly recommend Action for Happiness. They are a charity based in London which invites experts to share all aspects of happiness. The talks are free and held 'live' online. During the talks, one can ask questions, allowing you to feel part of the community. The talks cover happiness in many different ways. Recent talks included 'Vulnerability As Strength', 'Unwinding Anxiety' or 'Wellbeing Skills'. There is a monthly calendar to download and online courses if you need support. Their motto is 'Let's take action to be Happier and Kinder, Together'. You can even have an email sent to you every day because happiness is a habit that can be cultivated. At Action Happiness, Self-love and compassion are talked about a lot, and you can tell that everyone who works there is really happy.

10 keys to happier living

Everyone's path to happiness is different. Based on the latest research, Action Happiness has identified 10 keys that make life happier and more fulfilling.

Together they spell GREAT DREAM, and you can explore them below.

Giving - do kind things for others.

Relating - connect with people.

Exercising - take care of your body.

Awareness - live life mindfully.

Trying Out - keep learning new things.

Direction - have goals to look forward to.

Resilience - find ways to bounce back.

Emotions - look for what's good.

Acceptance - be comfortable with who you are.

Meaning - be part of something bigger.

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