Prasanna Natarajan

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It - by Ravikant, Kamal

READ: 2019-07-13, RATING: 09/10

See Goodreads Page for details and reviews.

Re-reading this book as I wanted something lighter and quick to read after my last book. Kamal Ravikant is the elder brother of the infamous Naval Ravikant. Kamal became famous before Naval due to this little book.

This book is about how the author, quite randomly, made a commitment to “love himself”, after being frustrated and losing his mind with a hurting depression. To his surprise, he found that the practice (of loving himself) saved him by making him a happy and content person. Additionally, he also found that the world started behaving well around his needs.

It’s a very short read. You’ll be done in 30 minutes. The writing might be frustrating in the beginning, but then you’ll quickly get used to it. Kamal writes like how we think - in spurts of words, rather than grammatically correct sentences. And by the end, the writing felt great. Reason was, it was concise and he didn’t waste words to reiterate points much.

I think it’s an important book that everyone should read. The message might make your cringe, but that’s only because of its simplicity. The true message is that, only if you love yourself, only if you have care/respect/dignity towards yourself, will you stop wasting each moment in doing things that you don’t deserve.

An example. Let’s say you hate your job and spend 7 of the 8 hours being miserable in the office because you hate the job. And then in a show of complete resignment, you hurriedly do your work in the last hour. All is fine, and you still get paid. But what about those 7 hours of self-inflicted torture? If you had loved yourself as much as Kamal loves himself, then you wouldn’t to subject yourself to such a punishment. Instead, you could either quit the job or make a commitment to make those 7 hours the best treat for yourself for that day by just diving deep into whatever task you are supposed to do. With all of your heart.

I now think of a recent interview of R.Partheiban, a famous tamil movie director/actor. He’s known for his creativity. It’s there in his speeches, movie dialogues, scenes and even in his poems. The interviewer asks him (at the 11:33 mark) what’s the reason for his creativity, is it due to the way he thinks about loving a woman? To which he replies wonderfully:

“As days go by, I’m becoming more and more interesting. I have lots of love and poetry within me. To experience this love, I don’t need a lover, the love within is sufficient. People like being with me maybe because I’m always with love. It’s becoming rare these days to find someone who loves life and is inherently joyous, without having any agenda”.

You can even feel his love for life as he’s saying this. I was taken aback by this response when I was watching this. Here’s a man who loves himself and loves life more than anything else. And it has served him very well in ways we might not even understand, unless we live such a loved life. (If you understand tamil, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6EM_3R1rx4&t=11m33s.)

So the key lessons are:

  • “Love yourself like your life depends on it”. Because it does.
  • Remember the 3-step practice: The mental loop, the meditation and the question. (described below)
  • During our lives, we live and experience millions of moments. Treat each as a gift you give to yourself. Experience the most out of the moment, derive until the last drop of life is left of the moment, be in love with the moment. Or simply, be present.

Highlights from the book

If there is one lesson I can share from the experience, it is this: share your truth. Whatever your truth is, live it, share it.  The world will respond in ways you never could have imagined.  Life will blow your socks off.

All I knew was that I’d made a vow - something far greater than a commitment, bigger than an I-wish or a nice-to-have.  A vow.  I was going all in or destroy myself trying.  There was no middle ground.

What if you don’t believe that you love yourself?  Doesn’t matter.  Your role is to lay down the pathways, brick upon brick, reinforce the connections between the neurons.  The mind already has a strong wiring for love.  The body knows it as well.  It knows that love nurtures, that love is gentle, that love is accepting.  It knows that love heals.

Here’s the best part, one that makes me smile as I write this.  As you love yourself, life loves you back.  I don’t think it has a choice either.  I can’t explain how it works, but I know it to be true.   When you find yourself using the word “magical” to describe your life, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

After all, if you loved yourself truly and deeply, would you limit your life to what you previously thought possible?  Nope.  You’d blow your own socks off.

Darkness is the absence of light.  If you remember this, it will change your life.

Meditate for few minutes daily, by repeating “I love myself” during each breath. Feel it and add emotion to it. Smile while doing so.

In dealing with others and reacting to their negative emotions with my own, I found myself asking this question:  If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this? The answer, always, was a no.

Looking into your left eye, say, “I love myself.”  Whether you believe it that moment or not isn’t important.  What’s important is you saying it to yourself, looking into your eyes, where there is no escape from the truth.  And ultimately, the truth is loving yourself.

James Altucher, in one of his best blog posts, talks about how he stops negative thoughts in their tracks with a simple mind trick.  “Not useful” he tells himself.  It’s a switch, a breaker of sorts, shifts the pattern of the fear.

“if I loved myself, truly and deeply, what would I do?” The answer is simple: I’d commit to the practice.  And I would also share the next thing I’ve learned, which is, don’t let yourself coast when things are going great.  It’s easy to wish for health when you’re sick.

Honestly, it scares me a little.  Coming from the dumps, when life works, it’s great.  But if life is working, and you do the practice, how high can life go?  Can I handle it?  Heck, do I even deserve it?

This I know: the mind, left to itself, repeats the same stories, the same loops.  Mostly ones that don’t serve us.  So what’s practical, what’s transformative, is to consciously choose a thought.  Then practice it again and again.  With emotion, with feeling, with acceptance.

Lay down the synaptic pathways until the mind starts playing it automatically.  Do this with enough intensity over time and the mind will have no choice.  That’s how it operates.  Where do you think your original loops came from?

Often, the price for not being present is pain.

Whenever I notice fear in my mind, instead of pushing it aside or using it as fuel, I say to myself, “it’s ok.”  A gentle yes to myself.  To the moment, to what the mind is feeling. Often, that is enough to deflate the fear.  From there, I shift to the truth of loving myself.

I think that instead of reading loads of self-help books, attending various seminars, listening to different preachers, we should just pick one thing.  Something that feels true for us.  Then practice it fiercely.