This is part 4 of a 5-part series from nextavenue.org’s article “5 Sesame Street Lessons We Need Again as Adults.”
Once again, Sesame Street gives us a priceless helping of simple yet profound wisdom. So far in this series, we’ve been reminded of the importance of setting things aside that hinder us from trying something new or reaching goals; maintaining a spirit of adventure in our lives and relationships; and holding fast to good friends.
Today’s lesson is called Celebrate Yourself. Check out this adorable music video to illustrate the point:
Most kids are pretty great at celebrating themselves, wouldn’t you agree? They’re either overly excited about the things that would undoubtedly mortify their adult selves, or they’re entirely oblivious to them. I mean, how cute is the three-year-old lifting her shirt to proudly reveal her chubby belly to the world? Or an eight-year-old giggling and smiling from ear to ear with his big, crooked teeth on display?
I’m guessing you don’t know too many adults like that — and if you do, you might think they’re a little…well, off. But if you’re honest, deep down you probably envy them just a little bit. And who wouldn’t? It’s a beautiful thing to see someone be unashamedly themselves. And consider the burden that is lifted when you’re not consumed by what others may think.
We’ve become so self-critical, putting ourselves under a [very unforgiving!] microscope and tearing ourselves apart bit by bit until there is nothing left to celebrate. We compare ourselves to others and are found wanting. We wish we could be thinner, smarter, funnier, prettier, better, more popular. It’s simply exhausting — aiming for perfection and always missing the mark. Meanwhile, it seems as though the people who love and accept themselves unequivocally worry a lot less and get way more enjoyment out of life.
Don’t worry, we’re all guilty of these self-criticisms. You’re not alone. Even the people we know who seem most confident likely suffer with self-doubt sometimes. It just means we’re human. Besides, it’s not the doubt or the insecurities that define us, it’s our response to them. It’s the power we give to them.
Carl Jung, the brilliant psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology, poignantly said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
How can you become who you truly are? Our friends at Sesame Street know one way: By celebrating yourself!
One profound way to celebrate yourself is by cultivating and practicing “an attitude of gratitude”. (This can actually be a form of mindfulness meditation, a practice we highly promote. Read about the benefits of practicing gratitude here.)
You can practice gratitude in everything you do, from eating a meal to riding the train to work to folding laundry. But when it comes to yourself and your imperfections, celebrating yourself with gratitude means being thankful in spite of — perhaps even because of — your imperfections.
Instead of hating your legs for being too chubby, consider all the wonderful things your legs enable you to do, like walk up stairs, play with your kids, or exercise. Rather than beating yourself up for the underarm flab you can’t seem to get rid of, think of what a blessing it is that your arms can hold a newborn baby, cook dinners for your family, and embrace the ones you love.
Maybe it was those imperfections that motivated you to start practicing yoga, attend religious services, seek therapy, or join a social group that has enhanced your life and self-worth. We are all on a journey and there is beauty to be found at every turn — we just have to look for it!
Give yourself permission to become who you truly are. You are unique and different from everyone else. Yes, you have faults and imperfections. But you are YOU, and you are beautiful. As Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Celebrate YOU!