Practice Self-Compassion For a Better Life

Want to be happier and healthier? Be nicer to yourself!  According to study recently reported on in The New York Times, people who score high on tests of self-compassion are less depressed, less anxious, and are often more optimistic. Giving yourself a break may even influence the outcomes of things like weight loss plans.

Interestingly, people who find it easy to be kind and supportive to others often score low on self-compassion tests and tend to judge themselves harshly for perceived flaws like being overweight or not exercising. Many fall into a trap of constant self-criticism and negativity, leaving them even less motivated to change. “They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line,” says Kristin Neff, an associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the forthcoming book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind . In fact, it’s actually better to go easy on yourself. Here’s one exercise you can do to help break the cycle and change your self-critical habits, adapted from Neff’s website

1. Try writing about an issue you have that tends to make you feel inadequate (such as your physical appearance or a work or relationship issue). How does this aspect of yourself make you feel inside? Scared, sad, depressed, insecure, angry?  Be as honest as possible.

2. Now think about an imaginary friend who is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind and compassionate. Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this person, focusing on the perceived inadequacy you tend to judge yourself for.  What would this friend say to you about your “flaw” from the perspective of unlimited compassion? As you write, try to infuse your letter with a strong sense of his/her acceptance, kindness, caring, and desire for your health and happiness.

3. After writing the letter, put it down for a little while.  Then come back and read it again, really letting the words sink in and embracing the idea that you deserve the acceptance you deny yourself but allow your “friend” to feel towards you.


Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.