charlie chaplin on self-loveThere are so many great studies out on human behavior these days. Long-gone are the days of scientists looking at just atoms and molecules to explain our world. Studies now get right down to the heart of what makes us tick. The more I read these studies, the more I am convinced that at the very core of authentic self there is love.

Many spiritual traditions say that God is love, and thus we are too. But, in this world, we only need to look around and even check-in with our own behaviors and thoughts and it’s hard to reconcile that notion. You might ask, “Sandy, why does this bother you or what are you trying to get at?” Good question! OMG – my fingers slipped and I just typed ‘God question’! Well, Freudian finger slip aside, the reason this question dogged me for years is that it is just hard to see evidence that we are love out in the real world, despite what all the spiritual books say. Turn on the news and where’s the love?

However, with all the studies out today, observation and meditation on the topic, my thoughts have turned to yes, we are love. But, it’s much more self-love, directed naturally toward the ‘self’. Expanding that love out to the world is something that comes with work, with devoted cultivation of a higher level of human intelligence.

To speak to this point, let’s look at some recent studies, some observation and even some of the most brilliant prose ever written on self-love – by Charlie Chaplin!

  • A Harvard study has revealed that we’d much rather talk about ourselves than others.

After hooking up the test subjects to MRI machines, the participants were asked about their opinions and other people’s opinions. They found that when they talked about themselves the reward circuit of the brain lit up – the same circuit that is pleasantly activated with getting sex, food or money. It didn’t light so much when asked to talk about others. And, speaking of money, it was fascinating to see that there was a strong slant toward participants turning down money to talk about others in favor of talking about themselves for for free. Of course, this study makes perfect sense out of the popularity and rise of social media.

  • The University of California in Irvine just put out the results of a study that shows that the taking of selfies and photos to share with others increases our positive feelings – our happiness.

This study also points to our self-love and the rise of social media. It was a four-week study of 41 college students (and was sponsored by the company that came up with the selfie-stick – just kidding!). They were asked to take three different kinds of photos 1.) a selfie while smiling, 2.) a photo of something that made them happy and 3.) a photo of something that they believed would make the other person happy when sent.  They reported their moods after all the photo activities each day by an app that was placed on their phones. With a total of 2900 mood reportings, they found that all the picture types elevated their moods. Of course, all the picture types were set to have the participant looking for the positive, but it still shows that we like sharing our lives, what we love (and dare we say, even our love itself).

  • This last one just comes from me and introspection, not a study at all. The biggest proof for me that we are the embodiment of self-love comes from our biggest motivators – desire and fear.

Think about it, the two things that most move you to action speak volumes for your self-love. Our desires are acted upon because we want to make ourselves happy – whether it is working toward that shiny new car, reaching for that banana split or the super slimming veggie salad. We do these things out of love for ourselves (even knowing that the boost will probably be short-lived). Now look at fear, the other big motivator towards action. And, what is fear more than the desire to self-preserve. Yes, it is self-love once again.

The three examples above are but a few that suggest our inherent self-love. The evidence is all around us every day. If you can recall a study or evidence of your own, please share it in the comments below. Again, the real challenge comes in taking that love and expanding it out to include everything in our world.

In the meantime, here is an amazingly wise poem on self-love from one of the world’s most remembered comedians, Charlie Chaplin:

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!
― Charlie Chaplin

Let’s embrace self-love and welcome it as being part of our authentic self — gradually growing it out to include everything in our world.

Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet”

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