by Leo Babauta
If becoming whole and happy with yourself helps in a romantic relationship with someone else, what about when it comes to meeting new friends, or making an impression at work or with clients?
It works exactly the same way.
Being happy with yourself means that when you meet other people, you don’t need them. You’re not desperate for them to like you. You can be happy with them, or without them. However, a person who is happy with himself can also come together with other people and have fun, enjoy a good conversation, make a connection.
Not needing someone’s approval doesn’t mean you don’t want to connect with them. However, it makes it more likely that if you do connect with them, you’ll make a good impression. People tend to back off if you’re too needy, if you really want their approval . but they respect someone who has approved themselves (not that you have to be cocky — just happy with who you are).
When we don’t think we are very likable people, we worry about the impression we’re going to leave on other people. This worry comes across to the other person, and makes that person think you don’t like yourself, that you might have something to hide, that you’re not trustworthy, not open and genuine.
But if you think that you’re likable and have something to offer, you can be open, authentic and smile. You aren’t afraid to show yourself as you are because you already know you’re good. And this comes across to others, and they tend to like this.
So being whole and happy with yourself makes it easier to meet new friends, to get hired for a new job, to make a good impression on your co-workers, to work with clients. In short, it makes any relationship better.
How to Bring Your Happiness to the Table
So what if you’re not confident yet in yourself and your abilities? How do you go out and meet people and know that you have something to bring to the conversation and relationship?
Here’s the key: Start with the base realization that you don’t need any person’s approval, and that you are fine even without it. This is true: If someone else doesn’t like you, your life isn’t ruined. You can be happy going for a walk, reading a book, writing a novel, doing a workout, laying in the grass, watching the sunset. You can be happy just with yourself.
Once you start with that realization, you can let go of the worries about what other people will think of you. When the insecurities come up (they will out of habit), realize that they stem from wanting the approval of another person, and then remember that you don’t need that approval. You’re fine without it. The desire for approval is causing you pain, and you don’t need that pain.
This process can happen repeatedly, but you get better at letting it go. Also focus on the things about yourself that you like, the talents you have, the things you have to offer. Appreciate these things about yourself. Know that you’re worthy of anyone’s attention and trust.
This confidence will come with practice because when you meet someone and they like you because you aren’t trying to get their approval, you will begin to trust the process.
Does this mean you should brag about yourself when you meet with people? Not at all — someone who needs approval will give you their accomplishments and show their good side. Someone who doesn’t need approval will be happy to listen to another person, will try to get to know the other person and will also be willing to share all the sides of who they are, not just the good side.
The amazing thing is that this openness and willingness to share vulnerabilities is a powerful way to build trust. When you can open up and share the parts of you that aren’t absolutely flattering because you aren’t worried about being judged, the other person will trust you much more and will also feel like opening up. This creates a much more genuine connection.
Make a list of the things you like about yourself, your talents, your strengths. Take a moment with each item and appreciate that one thing about yourself. Keep this list for regular reminder sessions so you slowly grow to know your worth and are happy with who you are.