martha beck on happiness
Photo: Ann Cutting
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3. Applying SALVE is the only way you can make your loved ones feel loved.
I have a friend I'll call Emma whose standards for herself are so high, she almost never meets them; few humans could. Recently, while chatting with some other friends of Emma's, I discovered that we all feel anxious in her presence, afraid of not measuring up. Though Emma never judges anyone but herself, her friends unconsciously reflect that self-judgment. Self-loathing drags her loved ones down even as she tries to cheer them up.

If you won't apply SALVE for your own sake, at least do it for others'. Believing that you're not doing enough, that you need to work harder, often comes from a desire to give more to others: You "sacrifice" yourself out of love. But your nearest and dearest won't feel this love; they'll feel what you feel about yourself. This strange truth seems to have something to do with mirror neurons, brain cells that play a role in our ability to share other people's emotions. It takes the Golden Rule to a whole new level: Feel about yourself what you would have others feel about themselves.

4. SALVE helps you lose weight.
Years ago I noticed that many of my clients started slimming down, often without trying, as their self-acceptance increased. I did tons of research (actually wrote a book about it) and found that self-loathing tends to increase stress eating and the production of fat-storing stress hormones.

On the other hand, people who apply SALVE find it much easier to stop unhealthy eating. My son, Adam, who has Down syndrome, uses SALVE every day. (He happens to be a genius when it comes to unconditional acceptance.) Several years ago, when Adam found himself getting chubby, he asked me what might help him trim down. Since he always accepts, loves, values, and esteems his body, once he knew something was bad for him he was no more tempted to eat it than to stick a fork in the dog. He switched to an extremely healthy diet-and-exercise program without any sense of self-deprivation.

With Adam and my clients as models, I began applying SALVE every time I winced at my own body in a mirror. I replaced bouts of mental self-flagellation with deliberate kindness, finding something to like or even admire about my physique. (It helped when I thought of my body as ski equipment—I really love my ski equipment.) I strongly encourage you to do the same. Every time body shame hits, slap on some serious SALVE.

5. SALVE helps you make money.
Imagine you're interviewing two people for a job that will require them to work alongside you, interact with your clients, and market the product you're selling. One candidate looks sullenly at the floor, wincing and cursing, apologetically explaining that she's overwhelmed by shame and self-doubt. The other candidate seems happy, relaxed, and genuinely interested in you and your business. Which one do you hire? Whose energy will add more value? Duh. When you go out into the moneymaking world, you've got to reach for the SALVE. Nothing else is a better magnet for abundance.

Now, you may be thinking, "Well, I can fake a happy, confident, unself-conscious persona at the office." This is true...almost. Self-haters can mimic the joy that comes from SALVE, but not completely. Our real feelings flash across our faces in microexpressions lasting a fraction of a second—too brief for most people to consciously identify them, but long enough that they can leave observers unnerved. People who fake confidence may come across as less than trustworthy, and being an effective money earner is all about trust. With the help of SALVE, you'll be far more successful in any negotiation, meeting, sale, or other interaction that involves financial stakes.

Next: How your home benefits from a new way of thinking

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