Self-compassion is a straightforward concept — be nice to yourself. So, why is it so hard to grasp?

Being nice to others comes as a generally accepted given, despite varying definitions of “nice” across individuals. I think we can agree that people prefer when you are nice to them rather than rude. That idea doesn’t always translate directly to our relationships with ourselves. Love and kindness is not typically the first thing we give ourselves when we need encouragement.

Research supports the notion that we are more successful when we are compassionate to ourselves. However, do you ever find that you are more motivated when you are self-critical?

If you do, you’re not alone. There’s a dude named Zig Ziglar, who I only recently heard about. He’s super smart and has a bunch of good things to say about how to be successful. He’s a motivational speaker and he’s written a shit ton of books. Pretty credible dude, I really like his emphasis on being authentic and kind to others. He also has a quote that I really disagree with and I’m going to talk about it for a second.

He says, “when you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easy for you.” A lot of people agree with this line of thinking. And honestly, that is totally cool with me if it works for you. I’m also just going to say that no current research supports this quote, and all of the current research discredits it. (Don’t worry, Zig Ziglar has a bunch of other good quotes)

People who don’t think self-compassion is going to help them frequently think that being kind to ourselves is “soft” or lazy. When I was a kid practicing soccer, I used to tell my brother to tell me that I was really terrible at it. I thought that would help me get better. This method certainly wasn’t working with school, but perhaps it would with soccer. It didn’t. I don’t think that was entirely the fault of my negative self-talk (my feet have always been too big for me), but the negative self-talk certainly didn’t help.

In fact, negative self-talk never helped me. I’ve never achieved something amazing by treating myself as though I were my own shitty boyfriend. Absolutely, on the road to really cool things I have doubted myself the entire ride. The difference today is that I don’t get swept away in the whirl of negative thinking as quickly. And as soon as I say something shitty to myself, I usually say, “hey, you’re a bad bitch, let’s keep going.”

I learned self-compassion from a bunch of therapists, and I believed them because they had a lot of experience. They cited some very cool people who I ended up really liking.

One of those people is a badass warrior princess named Dr. Kristin Neff (self-compassion.org). She actually teaches at The University of Texas and I sometimes (every time I got to HEB) imagine running into her at the grocery store and then becoming her apprentice. A girl can dream.

Anyway, Dr. Kristin Neff pioneered self-compassion research. She is the reason I know what self-compassion is. The big term used to be “self-esteem,” but the keyword became “self-compassion” after self-esteem proved to be not super sustainable over time.

I’ll tell you why self-compassion is sustainable and why self-esteem isn’t. Self-compassion is basically like, “hey girl, you’re average, you are not better or worse than anyone, and that is fucking awesome.” Self-esteem is more like, “wow, you really have something especially special that no one else has.”

Self-esteem doesn’t last because as soon as you actually aren’t especially special at something, your self-esteem may drop. Self-esteem has requirements. Self-esteem compares us to others. One of the consequences of an emphasis on self-esteem has been a huge increase in narcissism over the last decade.

Self-compassion is badass because it sees the goodness even when life is a shit storm. I was reading a blog post about self-esteem vs. self-compassion on Dr. Krstin Neff’s website and she defines self-compassion so clearly and beautifully. She says:

Self-compassion involves being kind to ourselves when life goes awry or we notice something about ourselves we don’t like, rather than being cold or harshly self-critical. It recognizes that the human condition is imperfect, so that we feel connected to others when we fail or suffer rather than feeling separate or isolated. It also involves mindfulness — the recognition and non-judgmental acceptance of painful emotions as they arise in the present moment. Rather than suppressing our pain or else making it into an exaggerated personal soap opera, we see ourselves and our situation clearly.

The part of that quote that I absolutely love is the part where it talks about connection with others. Pema Chodron talks about this in her book, Start Where You Are. I recently felt like a total failure when I quit my last job. Ugh. It sucked. Even though it was my decision, and it was ultimately to improve my health, I still felt like a failure. I was so proud of that job. Anyway, when I was going through that process, I thought, “wow, I wonder how many millions of people have felt this way before. And now, because I am experiencing this too, I am connected with all of those people.”

Thinking about it that way helps me feel a lot better when I fuck something up because I remember that millions upon millions of people have all felt the exact same way. So, that can be pretty powerful. I’m not alone when I say something stupid or accidentally sound really harsh in an email reply to someone who used a smiley face. I use smiley faces sometimes, too! I was just in rush!

 

I really want to talk about mindfulness and radical acceptance, but those will have to be separate blog posts. Both are involved in self-compassion practice.

Begin your self-compassion practice slowly and grow it over time. It can be difficult to change a habit that is so engrained in us. It’s engrained in our culture. It’s hard to escape that grip. And, it can be uncomfortable to tell people we love ourselves.

So, you don’t have to fall in love with yourself all at once. I didn’t start loving myself until I kept up little self-compassion breaks over time. I started practicing self-compassion when one of my therapists asked me to say “I love you” while making eye contact with myself in the mirror. Everyday for 30 days. And I totally did it.

Ugh. I still remmeber the first time I did it. I was nauseous. At the time, I’d had a recent suicide attempt. There wasn’t a ton I loved about myself. And I’d never told myself I loved me… because that’s a super weird thing to do. I said “I love you” to myself for the first time in June of 2012, and I have said it almost everyday since.

I’ve implemented a lot of self-compassion practices in my daily life. I take self-compassion breaks and write myself nice notes. Really simple things. Things that sometimes feel embarrassing and weird because it feels so counterintuitive at first.

You can do your own research and start your self-compassion adventure however you want. I used to teach some self-compassion workshops, and based on what I’ve learned from Dr. Kristin Neff, the best way to start being self-compassionate is to notice when you’re not.

Sometimes we say rude stuff to ourselves and we don’t even notice. You can start your self-compassion practice by simply observing and noticing when you are self-critical. What are the common phrases you say to yourself? Does this habit really help you?

You can start with that and move from there if you find that you do want to try something new. If you’re curious about this topic and you want to read some more in-depth research, check this out.

 

On January 1st, I woke up pretty confused because for the first time in my adult life, I was actually asleep by 10 pm on New Years Eve. I was disappointed by this because I felt like I had missed the opportunity to be a part of the official transition into the new year. So, we spent January 1st pretending it was New Years Eve again so that I could start the new year properly.

My little family, consisting of my two dogs and one husband, sat down together to discuss what we hope to leave in 2017, and what we hope to bring with us into the new year. We put together a list of core values that we will post in our house and aim to be mindful of as we travel through another year. Based on what we learned in 2017, we came up with five guiding values.

These values were put together as we were thinking about steps we hope to take towards creating the life that is most authentic and sustainable for Jonny and I as a couple and as individuals. In 2017 I learned that my connections with others were so important to me that I frequently held on, hoping for approval for longer than I ever needed to.

A lot of people cared about me throughout the year. When I was sick, when I was facing my own personal struggles, and when I walked through the “oh my god I’m married” realization, there were friends by my side throughout the entire journey. I was so worried about the relationships I thought I was losing that I stopped looking at the strong relationships I already have. As I walk into 2018, I have a clarity that will hopefully last at least through the end of January. With that clarity, I see a similar set of priorities with a different way of looking at them. I intend to foster the relationships that are mutually supportive and loving. I intend to prioritize feelings of community during a transition from comfortable routines to new adventures. And just like Brene Brown (via Theodore Roosevelt) taught me, I don’t need to worry about the opinions of those who are not fighting the arena.

I hope to try out new ways to explore my authentic self so that I can show up in every arena looking to my values for guidance and insight. I set random dates on my phone calendar to alert me of my core values throughout the year. I Thought that was a cool idea.

In my journal most mornings, I spend three pages of incomprehensible rambles attempting to answer one question — what do you want to create today? We asked ourselves this question when we were thinking about 2018 as a whole. What do we hope to create? What is our one goal? Our 2018 big, challenging, vague goal is to be both intentional and curious.

On January 1st, I woke up and realized an entire year had just flown by. I noticed that even though I made progress in mindfulness and careful consideration in 2017, there were some major lapses and major returns to auto-pilot and people-pleasing. As I take more steps into my own, I hope to act according to my values in moments where my gut reaction is to make a quick decision and keep moving. I hope I’ll slow down and observe each step and then take action to change direction when I notice myself wandering.

My spiritual curiosity is at an all time high. I am learning to take pieces of what I learn, from Brene Brown to Sam Harris, and experiment with what it feels like to see the world’s issues and my own from a different angle. How can this inform the way I see my existence? How can I chase my curiosity without moving though it too quickly? 

 

 

I know I will forget, I know I will fall back into the patterns that are comfortable to me. That is the nature of my adjustment to new endeavors. Every change that occurs in my life occurs for the first time. It’s a new experience every time. I can give myself a break (hopefully, eventually) when I do not walk through new experiences with untethered courage. I do things for the very first time every day, whether I notice or not.

I hope to remember this as I continue to strengthen and then forget and then strengthen and then forget my commitment to self-compassion and introspection. Whether taking a personal inventory at the end of the day or realizing it’s December 31st 2018 and I forgot to practice any values, I will aim to be kind to myself.

Persistence in 2018 is essential. I know that I must partake in the positive changes I wish to see in my community and in my country. That starts with being kind myself. And then it grows when I reach new depths of kindness for others catalyzed by my own self-love.

On January 1st, I woke up and decided to celebrate New Year’s at midnight since I had missed it the night before. Once again, I was asleep by 10 pm despite my strenuous efforts to stay awake. If 2018 supplies plenty of early nights and intention-setting meetings, I’ll be more than pleased.

 

There are things I need to leave in 2017. I am taking this opportunity to let the new year symbolize a new beginning. Just as there are things I need to leave behind, there are things I need to bring in order to show up completely for what this year may have in store.

I carry around my anxiety like I went out of my way to get it. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to let it go. What I have noticed more lately is a new kind of anxiety that feels like more of an existential “I am always so confused about what the world is” feeling. And I don’t know how to leave it.

Staying in the present moment has not been my thing lately. I give myself maybe a couple of minutes maybe once a day to meditate and be mindful. But as soon as that’s done it’s off to the races again. I’ve been told to not read the news as much. I don’t know how to leave it.

Don’t get me started on my attempts to read people’s minds. I’ve been very wrong about that lately. I don’t know how to leave it.

This is where the tricky part comes in, okay? The thing is, I do know how to leave it. I know exactly what I need to do. I replace the things I don’t want to hold with the things I do want to hold.

I’m going to be mindful of my information consumption (and I’m going to delete three of my news apps).

I don’t get to leave behind the political climate, but there are things I can do to protect myself a bit more. I can be mindful about the information I engage in.

I was doing some research the other day and I found an article about the Low Information Diet. At first, I thought it was a typo and that it was supposed to say, “low inflammation diet.” But in fact, the Low Information Diet (aka selective ignorance) is a thing. It’s super effective and research supports it.

The guy who wrote The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss, is all about the Low information diet. I looked more into him because I haven’t actually read The 4 Hour Work Week (I’ve pretended that I’ve read it, does that count?). He’s a super smart dude and he’s doing big things to change the way people approach their work and their lives in general. I especially like a blog post he wrote about curing anxiety. I pulled a lot of inspiration from that piece. Big things I took away were the need for play, and news as the biggest source of anxiety.

I intend to leave my phone on the charger across the room while my ipad is dead so that I can spend time with my friends and not worry so much about the latest in Washington.

I plan to play. I’ve been craving a good swing set sesh lately. We just got a new puppy and we have a one-year-old pup, so I will let them remind me to play.

dog dog dog pic

I hope to cultivate authentic community and foster supportive relationships. I will leave behind those things I tell myself that keep me from approaching new people. Maybe I’m just lazy. I joined Bumble BFF and I went on a friend date that went well, so, that’s a step.

Once I’m actually having a conversation, I’m fine. But the moments leading up to those conversations are rough. Also the moments of silence when you sort of forget what to talk about. Those feel like long sprees of awkward eye contact with a person who may or may not think I’m a total fraud. How could I know? Best to assume the worst.

However, I do get comfortable quickly, and I know how to put on the game face when I need to, for sure. It just takes so much energy. Running on auto pilot can work, but goodness is it exhausting.

I have found that the more authentic I am with others, the better connections I have with them. Fostering relationships with people who support and love me, who I support and love, was one of the most powerful experiences I had in 2017. I’d like to further embrace this in 2018 by cold calling (or texting, if I’m nervous) the people I care about who I just don’t call enough.

People save my life, and goodness do I love my people. In 2018, I’d like to make a more active effort to reach out, listen to, and love the people I care about. The things that once concerned me are not important to me anymore. My standards were insane. It was because I didn’t realize how much I hated myself. It always is. When I further embrace self-love and recommit to my wellbeing, I get to reconnect with the oneness of everything that is or isn’t.

I’d like to leave behind poor prioritization and refocus on the things that make me a better person. 

In the last month I have found a growing interest in the way spirituality is really defined. My curiosity about the connectedness of the universe and what that means or doesn’t mean at all is at an all-time high. As I am more concerned than ever for the wellbeing of this weird ass fucking world, I am also experiencing a lot more existential angst. Instead of pushing that away or ignoring it (because I have thought about life plenty), I have allowed my curiosity to guide me towards people who have asked these questions, too.

I find the answers in meditation.

So, I’d like to recommit to my meditation practice. I also want to go back to being obsessed with gratitude. I make a gratitude list everyday, but I do it as though it’s just a thing to check off my list. I’m going to put a lot of thought and intention into my happy jar this year, and I’m going to take time out of each day to visualize, write down, and talk about my gratitude.

I want to create. 

I want to create the life that my husband and I are feeling brave enough to go after. I want to create memories and friendships with people I just so happen to meet.

Writing will help me create tangible pieces of myself so that I can somehow feel less alone and less burdened by the thoughts which have no business in my head.

Someone once asked me, “are you looking forward to your life over the next three months?” and that still echoes in my head. I ask myself this question all the time. And today, I can’t wait to see what life has in store. New mistakes and fears, new resentments and weirdness. And new opportunities to persist with gratitude and grace.

 

 

 

 

I haven’t written in a while because I sort of went through a couple of weeks where I wanted to quit writing all together forever. I kept thinking, “why do I have a right to put myself out there? What’s so great about the bullshit I write?” I just sort of had this moment where I was convinced that me writing wasn’t only meaningless and a waste of time, but that it was also destructive and horrible. Like me writing was doing some kind of disservice to people. I don’t know where I got these ideas.

I was feeling insecure, neurotic, and I was beginning to question my worthiness for love. Why would anyone love me? What’s so important about me? I don’t blame people for thinking I’m full of shit (I don’t actually know for sure if people think that), I think I’m full of shit, too.

So, I went through all of this shit, and now I’m sort of getting over this idea that I am a total fraud. Here’s how I’m trying to do that: I’m trying to give myself more compliments. I am spending time with people who voice their support and love for me. It’s amazing how the people I surround myself affect my worldview and feelings of positivity or negativity. I just don’t want to spend any more time being disappointed because I don’t have approval from specific people. I get support and encouragement from so many people, but that disappears the moment I don’t feel loved enough by just one person. So, it’s tough to let go of that. I get so desperate for understanding and acceptance that I end up making a fool of myself.

I’m working on that by crying about it when I need to, and taking a bunch of deep breaths, and developing new boundaries. I get to make a choice about what kind of relationships I want to spend time on, and what kind of relationships breed negativity and tension. Why should I subject myself to such a twitchy situation?

It’s okay to feel shitty, man. In fact, allowing myself to just sit and allow myself to hurt is how I feel so wonderfully loved and joyful today. If I don’t process these feelings, resentment and sadness fester into questions about how valuable I am to others. So, the only way to get through it is to get through it. And it sucks and it hurts. However, because of all of this shittiness, I feel like I’ve climbed up a really tough mountain, and now I’m at the top looking at a beautiful view.

It’s been a tough year. A tough year for me, for this country, for this world. Ugh. What a year. I am in a lot of fear about what is happening to this country and I get pessimistic and negative. So, how can I spread positivity? How can I shine light for others? That’s tough to do when I’m having trouble finding my own light. The only thing I know to do is hold on tight to gratitude. Always grateful.

The last six months have been difficult. I’ve struggled hard. I wrote a bunch of vague blog posts. I do that because I don’t like to include specific people in my post, even though sometimes a reader close to me might know who I’m talking about. I try to be authentic and expressive while remaining respectful. I don’t always do a great job of that.

Over the last few months I ate a lot of donuts, and then I got really into working out, I did a lot of knitting, I bought a mandolin, I tried to become a hat person, I quit my job, I just started cross-stitching, I thought maybe I’d be the kind of person who would hike the whole PCT.

Some of these hobbies have stuck around. I love cross-stitching and I love my mandolin. I really like my hat, but I don’t have the confidence to pull it off in public, so I just wear it around my house. The thought of donuts grosses me out. And I still like working out but I’m not so obsessed with it.

I didn’t really want to publish this blog post on Thanksgiving because I’m about to talk a lot about gratitude and there are more days of the year where you can express gratitude than this one. So, whatever.

I am so fucking grateful. By practicing gratitude and deep breathing, I made it through a really tough time. One of those phases where I was like, “wow, how could anything ever get better? Everything is just going to suck forever.” And here I am, almost all the way through the darkness. I feel like I’m about to watch a really pretty sunrise.

Everything that has happened over the last six months helped me grow up. I have a much better sense of who I am. I felt like I was watching myself from afar. And I saw myself being strong, patient, compassionate. I have to be real and let you know that I was inspired by myself. I was so impressed with the way I kept my head held high. The way I got out of bed before 8 am every day and then immediately made the bed.

Here is a secret trick that helped express my rage. I was so angry. I was angry at the universe for taking people away from me. I was angry at myself for neglecting relationships that are really important to me. I was angry at the people who weren’t reading my mind and then giving me what I wanted (mostly affirmations and attention). So, I would go to my office and lock the door. I would set my timer for five minutes. I would put a huge pile of pencils in front of me (I have thousands of pencils from my teaching days, if you want any), and once I started my timer, I broke as many pencils as I could in five minutes. I channeled all of my negative feelings into these pencils. It has become one of my favorite coping skills. Highly recommend. It helped me feel my feelings and get the energy out. It is such a relieving coping skill, and it is not threatening at all.

I have a much better sense of who I am as an individual. For the most part, I am proud of the person I am. I’ll never be done growing. I’ll never be done learning. I will always make mistakes, and I will have to own the consequences and do my best to have those experiences guide me towards being the person I am meant to be.

I have to give a shout out to my siblings, to my in-laws, to my whole family, and to my friends who have given me tough truths, difficult conversations, unconditional love, donuts, hugs, and shoulders to cry on. I don’t exist without other people. And all of you shape me. You teach me. You help me grow. And whether or not we have spoken over the last six months, you’ve still made an impact on me that has helped me grow and learn.

There are no mistakes in art, only happy accidents.

There’s a lyric to a song that says, “all that I know is I’m breathing, all I can do is keep breathing.” That’s all I’m trying to do right now. Keep breathing. And it’s the only thing I’m certain of.

Since I was 15, I’ve been making 10-year plans. Mapping my goals and the steps it would take to get there, deciding on big careers and identities. I’ve always had some kind of plan for the future. As I’ve grown a bit older, I still make 10 year plans, but I do so with the understanding that everything will likely change. And when any changes have happened, I get excited because I get to sit down and re-write my 10-year plan. I have an entire binder dedicated to this process.

What I’m getting at is for the first time since I began this habit, I don’t have a fucking 10-year plan. I don’t have a plan for what’s going to happen three hours from now. I don’t have a plan for my next six months.

Right now, my biggest goal, the number one thing I am trying to achieve: see how long I can go without wearing a bra.

It’s cool and it’s the worst thing ever. I’m calm and I am losing my mind.

I want to write more. To chronicle this time in my life. I feel like I have hit puberty all over again. Only, this time is worse and the growing pains are more painful.

I’m getting pretty good at leaning into uncertainty. I am learning to say things like, “maybe I will go,” instead of, “I am going to go.”

I really don’t know anything. I have no idea what will happen next. So, how can say with confidence what is definitely going to happen?

I found that I have spent about the last 6 months being exhausted. Any free time I had I spent sleeping or rewatching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. I’m not kidding when I say I have watched all 7 seasons 6 times over the last 4 months.

I tried to tie my identity to work. I tried to tie my identity to what I thought a wife is supposed to be like. I let go of who I am. I stopped being curious. I let go of what I love, of what my hobbies are. So much so that I do not know what I like. I do not know what my hobbies are. I don’t know how I want to spend my time.

Now I have an opportunity to explore the world of myself. I stopped doing my self-compassion rituals because I was happy and loved myself. I have learned the hard way that self-compassion takes maintenance. I learned this because I am so deep in self-loathing. I woke up a few days ago, looked in the mirror, and said “I don’t like you.” It was sad and I proceeded to go to my closet and cry for a while.

I’ve started to say “I love you” in the mirror again. I’m writing myself notes. I wrote myself a love poem the other day. I might put it on here, but I am too nervous to do that right now.

I took the TV out of my bedroom. For some reason, I didn’t like movies. Now, I am curious about watching super popular movies that I have not seen. Most of the time, when people ask me if I’ve seen a movie I say, “oh yeah, totally. But it was so long ago that I barely remember it. Great movie, though.” I’d like to watch one movie that I have not seen every week. Other than that, I am done with TV. I use it like I used to use weed to numb out and chill for a while.

I preach a lot of things. I talk a lot about the importance of letting go image management. But I realized that image management is all I do. Posting on social media all the time about how great my life is. My life actually is great, I just work hard to let people know that I am just fine and everything is under control.

The truth is, I don’t know myself. I stopped being connected to my true self. My life is not going wonderfully and nothing is under control. I am powerless. I also feel empowered to work on myself. I feel like I am a badass warrior princess, conquering my little world and loving myself again. All I can do is love me, focus on me, be a good friend, feel everything I need to feel — scream, cry, laugh, relax.

scream, cry, laugh, relax.

For the first time in my sobriety, I have no plans for the future. I have no idea what is coming. So much of one year from now depends on one day from now. That is how I am living each day. Trying to see what will happen, in the midst of an impossible fog.

I am living in complete uncertainty. I feel like the ground has been ripped from under me. I had all of the pieces of a happy life. There was promise and hope for my future in each facet of my life.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every one of those things is gone now. Like that structure of a life never existed. It was made of glitter, and I sneezed. Now there’s just a whole mess of glitter flying everywhere, with no purpose or direction. I know, I know, I have so much promise. But right now, I am feeling the hurt. That’s where I am and that’s what I need to do.

I turned 26 on Tuesday. And that is very young. I am very young. I feel even younger. I feel completely clueless.

This type of mass destruction of a life has not happened while I’ve been sober. Not even close. Not even a little bit.

Why do I need certainty? Why does it kill me to not understand?

Here are the books I’ve read: “Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change,” by Pema Chodron, “When Things Fall Apart,” by Pema Chodron, and “Welcome to the Universe,” by J. Richard Gott, Michael A. Strauss, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Because when I don’t have answers, I must seek them. And most of what I’ve learned is that there are no answers. Even during the times when I think I’ve had answers, I didn’t, really. Answers are an illusion. There is no certainty.

But that does not help me. Because fuck uncertainty, I need something concrete. I need to know. I must know. I am so resistant to all of this. And suffering is caused by resistance to the present moment. I know, I know, I know. But fuck that. I don’t like it. So I need to change it. This is where I am right now.

Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to change what is happening. Because I can’t change other people. I can no longer be the stage director my life. I can no longer be the actor, trying to adjust everything to suit my needs.

Sometimes, I am peaceful. During meditation, I sit in the uncertainty and I do not react to it, I simply allow it to be. I give it space. And I feel good for about 30 seconds after my meditation, and then again I see the giant tidal wave of horror crashing through my life and fucking everything up.

I am sad about big things — Hurricane Harvey, Nazis, etc.
I am sad about little things — I went about 6 weeks without biting my nails once, and now I’ve started biting them again.
I am sad about things that seem gigantic but are actually little. However, I am not at a place where I see them as little. I have no perspective.

I have a lot of awareness about what I can do to lean into this uncertainty, I have heard suggestions about what I can do to empower myself in this moment. And I just feel too defeated. Stuck in self-pity and fear.

So, I’ve decided to do one thing. I have decided to start spin classes at Soul Cycle. Because I know that being active helps me. And when I go to the gym these days I just lift weights and start crying because I have no idea what I’m doing and it is a good representation of my life — trying to hold something heavy, and then losing my breath and realizing that I am not as strong as I want to be.

Despite this darkness, I am determined to hold my head high. There are a few things I hold on to: my parents, a couple of solid friends, gratitude for the fact that I am alive, and this piece of writing from Albert Camus:

My dear,
In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that…
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.