Writing a Letter to Your Younger Self

Writing a Letter to Your Younger Self | happyliving.com - image via Oleh Slobodeniuk on Flickr

The most outrageous thing we can do in this world is to accept what happens and fly with it.
(Sakyong Mipham)

Compassion and self-acceptance are cornerstones of happiness.

Without them it is difficult to love and serve others. Many people “put their families and friends first.” This attitude of sacrifice is often learned while growing up. Yes, humility and kindness towards others are virtues — but practicing them should not interfere with treating yourself with love.

We have been following the work of Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. In a recent interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, he suggested writing a letter to your younger self. In the same spirit, Oprah shared a letter she wrote to her 20-year-old self for a CBS series called ‘Note to Self’ – click here to watch the 6-minute video.

Time and perspective are wonderful teachers.

What advice and encouragement can you share with your younger self? Start to think about the moments when you needed kindness. What things did you worry about that no longer matter? What challenges did you face that you eventually overcame? What did your younger self need to hear?

There are many twists and turns through this journey called life. And there are times when our unlucky experiences turn into great blessings. Mistakes become learning opportunities. Things that feel like punishments do in fact build character. Yet in these moments, we are filled with self-pity, fear, despair, shame, and regret.

As you are writing a letter to your younger self, there might be things happening in your current life that could benefit from experience, compassion, and perspective. Imagine yourself 5, 15, 30 years from now. What would your future self say about today’s worries, dramas, and concerns?

It is challenging to separate from what’s going today in order to gain perspective.

We understand there are times when life seems hard, confusing, or downright unfair. Writing a letter to your younger self is just one idea for creating perspective. This practice can help you endure the difficult times with confidence. It is an exercise in sending love to your younger self – who brought you where you are today.

This reminds us of a story we have read, heard, and shared through the years…

Found via Beliefnet.com, from Healing Words for the Body, Mind and Spirit by Caren Goldman:

An old Zen story goes like this: An old Chinese farmer had a mare that broke through the fence and ran away. When his neighbors learned of it, they came to the farmer and said, “What bad luck this is. You don’t have a horse during planting season.” The farmer listened and then replied, “Bad luck, good luck. Who knows?”

A few days later, the mare returned with two stallions. When the neighbors learned of it, they visited the farmer. “You are now a rich man. What good fortune this is,” they said. The farmer listened and again replied, “Good fortune, bad fortune. Who knows?”

Later that day, the farmer’s only son was thrown from one of the stallions and broke his leg. When the neighbors heard about it, they came to the farmer. “It is planting season and now there is no one to help you,” they said. “This is truly bad luck.” The farmer listened, and once more he said, “Bad luck, good luck. Who knows?”

The very next day, the emperor’s army rode into the town and conscripted the eldest son in every family. Only the farmer’s son with his broken leg remained behind. Soon the neighbors arrived. Tearfully, they said, “Yours is the only son who was not taken from his family and sent to war. What good fortune this is…”

We wish you joy in good fortune, perspective in times of bad luck, and happiness throughout your days. Tell us, do you plan on writing a letter to your younger self? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: Notebook in hand by Oleh Slobodeniuk on Flickr

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