Coca-Cola sent out a really powerful message in its Super Bowl commercial, in which the song “America the Beautiful” was sung in 8 different languages. The commercial even featured two fathers skating with a child, and is the first Super Bowl commercial to feature a gay couple. In fact, the message was so powerful that it instantly spurred a whirlwind of furious conservative responses online.
As a vegan, I tend to care about issues pretty passionately, especially animal-rights issues and eating issues. Perhaps this makes me more empathetic when it comes to political and human-rights issues as well. I’m not a supporter of Coke or any other soft drink companies, but this message moved me to tears. I was horrified (although not particularly surprised) to see the incredibly negative responses that the commercial prompted.
If nothing else, this commercial should make us think a bit harder about how we love ourselves. Most people might think “Why? It’s obvious these negative comments come from people who love themselves too MUCH! Otherwise why would they be so quick to put down those of other race or sexuality?”
But I want to argue that, in essence, the way that we love ourselves is the most important factor when it comes to acceptance of others. Think about it: all day long we put ourselves down, for not being successful enough, or intelligent enough, or thin/beautiful enough. In America especially, our society has developed a great deal of self-hatred and a huge amount of fierce competitiveness. Most people (especially women) don’t feel that they can truly accept themselves just the way they are. And if a person can’t love their own body and heart and mind unconditionally, then how can they hope to unconditionally love another unique, yet utterly flawed individual? When we love ourselves unconditionally, we can finally love others the same way. Tweet it.
Today I challenge you to do two things. First, spend five minutes in front of a mirror and practice truly seeing yourself. Pretend your eyes have never seen your body, your face, all of you, before. Try to notice your characteristics without judging. Try to imagine how your life and particular situation have shaped you. That includes your upbringing, your sexuality, your beliefs, your weight, even your skin color. What do you think your life would be like if one of those things had been different? Practice feeling love for all of yourself, unconditionally.
The second thing is to practice this exercise again, but this time looking at another person. It can be someone you know, or a stranger. What’s crucial is that you see them as a unique, yet valuable person. Practice unconditional love, or caring, for this person, if for no other reason than that he or she is a human being just like you. He or she has the same dreams, hopes, feelings, the same capacity for love.
If you practice this exercise often, you can learn to love yourself more, and let go of judgments. Life is SO good, why shouldn’t we foster joy and love? Let’s do it!