The author lives in Idaho, USA.
As young adults, I think the majority of us struggle with loving ourselves and finding joy within ourselves. It starts off with not thinking very positively about our bodies, our personalities, or our abilities. Once we have figured out exactly what it is we don’t like (which, unfortunately, is far too easy), we try to change those things. But maybe that change doesn’t happen fast enough or in the way we were hoping. Or we start comparing ourselves to others on social media, and then we feel miserable all over again. Sadly, a lot of us will brood in self-pity and all of our perceived “flaws” instead of trying to find joy within ourselves.
That’s no way to live. But because we are surrounded with media and people that influence our ideas of what we “should” look like, act like, and feel like, it’s no wonder we struggle to find joy in our individuality! I’ve often wondered: How are we supposed to learn to love ourselves and all the little quirks that make us, us, when society is always trying to push us to fit some arbitrary ideal?
Well, we start by finding the joy in ourselves, in our individuality, and in our beliefs and standards.
But the question is, how do we do that?
I think it’s different for all of us. But I do think there are a few actions we can take that pertain to everyone.
First, do what helps your well-being! For example, I used to hate working out—and I mean hate. But recently I’ve actually started to enjoy working out. Exercising gives me time to myself (whether through hiking or going to the gym). It makes me feel well, not because I’m trying to lose weight or to look a certain way, but because I just feel better about myself. I have more energy and more confidence, and that sparks so much joy within me.
You don’t have to just exercise to improve your well-being though—maybe eating healthier, meditating, going to bed earlier, or even doing something as simple as taking deep breaths and stretching helps you feel well.
Second, know who you are! This one takes some time, but when you realize who you are, it makes all the difference! I know that I’m a daughter of God. He—a perfect being—created me! How do I know this? I prayed, I read my scriptures, and I surrounded myself with people who believed the same things I do! I even asked, “What does God think of me?” as I read scriptures, and I realized that if He cared about His people way back then, He feels the same way towards us now.
Heavenly Father didn’t make any mistakes in creating us. In many cases, what you and I might consider to be flaws are really opportunities to turn to Christ and be perfected in Him. Now, I am far from perfect! But God views me as His daughter, and He loves me just the way He created me. Knowing that He who created the heavens and the earth decided that the world needed one of me too can help anybody feel joy within themselves.
Third, focus on your strengths! We all have so many different abilities, but sometimes it’s hard to recognize what we’re good at. Think about your hobbies—they hold different talents and strengths that you might be looking past. You can also ask your loved ones to tell you what your strengths are. They can often see your talents a lot clearer than you can. Study your patriarchal blessing to know some of the specific gifts and abilities God has blessed you with.
And if you want to know more, pray about it! Heavenly Father is ready to help you recognize your divine gifts. Also, you can ask Him to show you what you can improve on. Knowing our weaknesses and seeking the Lord’s strength helps us grow—so don’t get discouraged by them. God has not only allowed you to have weaknesses but has also blessed you with strengths. As you approach them in humility, seeking the Lord’s guidance, you can grow and find joy in who you are!
God wants us to feel joy in this life. I believe that when we do these three things, we’ll find more joy in ourselves. I know that I’ve felt joy and continue to feel joy as I put these things into practice every day.