To be a success in life requires self-confidence and self-respect. You must recognize that you are worthy and capable of happiness. This guide highlights the key resources designed to help you develop that confidence and discover your worth. It is not meant as a substitute for professional help, however. If you find yourself experiencing depression, thoughts of suicide, or extremely low self-esteem, we recommend you talk with a professional immediately.
Where to Begin
Low self-esteem often stems from a lifetime of troubling thoughts. Breaking out of those patterns can be difficult. A great place to start this process is with Nathaniel Branden’s 6 Pillars of Self Esteem. In it, he outlines the six major thinking processes that define self-esteem and provides techniques for improving each of them. These six pillars are living consciously, self-acceptance, taking responsibility, self-assertive, living purposefully, and integrity. We have re-iterated these themes in our blog with posts such as What Drives You, Why Ambition is a Virtue, and your Central Purpose in Life.
While not for everyone, we have found that reading about or watching stories of strong characters can give us inspiration to do better – to be better. These characters are often thrown into the pit of despair but pick themselves up and keep moving forward. They provide an example – the ideal to aspire too. Some of our favorite fictional characters include Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings, Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Captain Picard in Star Trek, and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Or if you prefer stories of real people, you could read the biographies of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and other titans of industry.
After working on your inner self, the next step should be to work on your relationships. For stronger romantic relationships, we recommend The Selfish Path to Romance by Drs. Locke and Kenner for an excellent look at the type of romance that respects and enhances your self-esteem. When interacting with your children, we recommend two books, How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk by Faber and Mazlish and Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson, Ed. D. These two books outline how to build healthy relationships with our kids that respects your kids’ as well as your own self-esteem.
When interacting with other people, it’s crucial that you pick the friends that support and complement who you want to be. Too often, we stick with toxic friends through momentum. Unfortunately, these friends are not healthy for your personal growth. Being constantly surrounded by naysayers, doom-and-gloomers, and negative focused people reinforces that negativity in our own thoughts. How do you develop new friendships? Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People is an excellent place to start, but it’s only a start. The same lessons you learned in the romance and the kids books above apply to friends. Use them.
Making Extreme Happiness the Norm
Long, ever-lasting happiness can be and should be the norm. In this, we are not referring to short-term passions or always having “fun”. For deep happiness, you need to pursue deep values. You must launch your self-esteem into orbit by developing the competence to achieve ever larger things and by discovering your self-worth. Both the worth of you as an individual and the worth of your accomplishments. Reaching extreme happiness encompasses building good things in every way to produce a value-dense life.
You must also reject the idea that relationships require sacrifice. The best articulation of this occurs in Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness. Rand rightly recognizes that Self-esteem is one of three primary values for living. Living for others or asking others to live for your sake destroys your self-esteem.
When interacting with the physical world, you need to pick a career that’s right for you. You need to define goals that complement your central purpose in life. It means recognizing that your career is the ultimate source of happiness and should be your highest value. Family and friends on the other hand represent the greatest place to celebrate those achievements. This doesn’t mean your family should be a doormat, but rather appropriate boundaries should be set so that work and home life are given the attention they deserve. And you need to understand how money, assets, and work interact to provide you the sustenance necessary for living. For the last, we recommend Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.