4 simple ways to be a good friend ... to yourself. Take a step back and try 'em. They work.

Imagine your best friend has a bad day...

Quite the memorable modeling debut! GIF from "Good Morning America."


...like, a really humiliating moment.

What would you do? Well, you probably wouldn't kick a woman when she's down.

You'd comfort her and remind her that one crappy moment is not a reflection of her worth as a human being. You'd give her good, compassionate advice.

But what if you were the one who'd had a bad moment? What kind of advice would you give yourself?

If you're like me (and many other people), you probably have a double standard when it comes to giving yourself compassionate counsel.

But imagine if we all were as kind to ourselves as we are to our friends.

There's a term for this approach: "self-compassion." It was spearheaded by Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin.

We should be able to be that comforting friend even to ourselves. Image by ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay.

Self-compassion focuses on three things: mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity.

Here are some ways to practice self-compassion:

1. In difficult moments, take a step back and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend in a similar situation.

Give yourself some quality BFF-type love! Photo by brianschulman/Flickr.

Unfortunately, bad things happening is part of being human. The next time you're feeling inadequate, try to think about how imperfections are what make us all human. Helping a friend through a hard time can be a great bonding moment. Practicing self-compassion can be a great way to feel more connected to everyone.

2. Tell yourself a compassionate phrase or two.


Maybe this isn't a compassionate phrase, but think about it: Would Kanye be mean to himself? GIF from "Kobe System Commercial!"

These phrases can be really powerful tools in practicing mindfulness, which is all about staying in the moment, acknowledging the pain, and working through it.

Here are a few to try:

  • This is a moment of suffering.
  • Suffering is part of life.
  • May I be kind to myself in this moment?
  • May I give myself the compassion I need?

3. Don't be afraid to give yourself a hug.

Photo by Jellaluna/Flickr.

Kind physical gestures like putting a hand over your heart or giving yourself a hug have an immediate effect on our bodies. The physical act can also help break us out of the cycle of negative thoughts.

Tip: For an extra niceness whammy, combine a kind gesture with your chosen compassionate phrase.

4. Try some meditation.

Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images.

When it comes to self-compassion, meditation can be really helpful for retraining our brains to turn to compassionate thoughts in times of pain. There are also additional benefits to meditation, like having less anxiety, an improved ability to focus, and a better memory. Dr. Neff has some great guided meditation exercises on her site (that I may or may not have already downloaded to my phone and used today...).

Never really been into the whole "love yourself" thing? That's cool. Just try being nice to yourself.

We're often told that high self-esteem is the key to a successful life, whether it's in the realms of academics, socializing, dating, or career. Dr. Neff challenges that and says it's self-compassion — simply treating ourselves nicely — that we should all be aiming for.

That sounds reasonable enough.

Want to learn more? Check out Dr. Neff's TEDx talk: "The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion."


Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
True

Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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