A parishioner who attended a wedding out of the area attended Mass at a nearby church. The pastor's bulletin column was entitled, "How Happy Are You?" It listed eleven Yes or No questions, which I hand on to you:
1. Do you allow ample time to arrive early and relax for appointments?
2. Do you celebrate your own efforts and accomplishments?
3. Have you refused to stay in a hurtful relationship even though it means you may be alone?
4. Do you pay your bills and debts on time and feel comfortable with your spending patterns?
5. Do you make time to exercise at least 3 times a week?
6. Have you eliminated negative self-talk such as "I am stupid" or "I am a bad person"?
7. Do you set time aside for daily meditation, prayer, and reflection just as you would make time for anyone else that you treasure?
8. Do you feel you have control over your life and that you can succeed?
9. Do you generally value your own inner guidance and intuition more than the advice of others?
10. Are you comfortable telling people how you truly feel about the pain of a difficult situation?
11. Can you accept compliments?
I did not give the "preferred" response to all of these questions. Authentic self-love is no easier for me to cultivate simply by virtue of being a priest. Yet in recent years I have been nudged in this direction because healthy self-love is crucial in order to sustain many of the changes I've made in my life. Arresting unworthy behaviors is one thing, reshaping unworthy attitudes another. The former doesn't last long without the latter, although the latter often doesn't take place without the former.
How do you rate? If you are not pleased with your responses, start by accepting that this is where you are and where you need to be right now. Then make small changes in one area at a time.