I was in a bad way. Miserable, out of my mind. There were days when I would lie in bed, drapes closed, the day outside sliding into night and back to day, and I just didn’t want to deal. Deal with my thoughts. Deal with being sick. Deal with heartache. Deal…with…life.
The words above are from Kaval Ravikant and, as you might have surmised, he was in a very bad place. Not only was he physically and spiritually not well, his business was going down the tubes. Until one day, out of nowhere, a jolt of inspiration shot through him. He dragged himself out of bed and found a notebook. He then jotted down the following words:
This day, I vow to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply—in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision: I LOVE MYSELF.
That’s how Kaval begins Love Yourself, Like Your Life Depends On It, a slim “self-help” book that is based around three words that seem to have a magical effect: “I love myself.” Kaval remembers to say these words from the moment he wakes up (I love myself), silently repeating them with every action (I love myself), and in any circumstance (I love myself). He wills the words to be true and somehow, someway, it works.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But is this really possible? Kaval believes he has uncovered a simple rule of life: “As you love yourself, life loves you back.” If this is true, it may be the simplest self-help practice ever devised, one that requires no teachers or study or the use of hallucinogenic drugs. The problem is believing it. At the outset, Kaval admits to having his doubts:
In all honesty, in the beginning, I didn’t believe that I loved myself. But it didn’t matter what I believed. All that mattered was doing it and I did it the simplest way I could think, by focusing on this one thought again and again and again and again until it was more on my mind than not.
To make this work, Kaval believes that you needed a “focused commitment.” In his words, “It must be a practice.” He describes creating “a groove so deep, so powerful, that your thoughts will automatically flow down this one” trail. He even uses “I love myself” as a mantra during meditation, saying the words with each in breath and breathing out any negativity.
Within a matter of days of beginning this practice, Kaval starts to see results. He explains:
I got better. My body started healing faster. My state of mind grew lighter. But the thing I never expected or imagined; life got better. Things happened I couldn’t have dreamt of. It was as if life said, “Finally, you idiot. Let me show you that you made the right decision.”
Kaval uses a version of the “I love you” practice to help him make major decisions in his life. When he’s unsure of what course to take, he simply he asks himself, “If I loved myself, truly and deeply, what would I do?” He calls it “my invitation to truth in the present moment.”
One day, an acquaintance told Kaval he was doing it all wrong—that life was about putting others in front of yourself, not putting yourself first. He respectfully disagreed. Yes, we should love others, he acknowledged, but we must first love ourselves. His reasoning:
It’s like what they tell you during pre-flight instructions; in case of emergency, if oxygen masks drop from above, put yours on before you help someone else.