In order to love others as much as you love yourself, you must love yourself. You must take time to recharge your batteries and replenish your energy. Otherwise, you’ve nothing left to give others. So fill your empty cup. And take measures to keep it full.
Title Photo by Matheus Bertelli
Running On Empty
Meet Robin. Robin is a member of the “sandwich generation“. She is sandwiched between caring for elderly parents and caring for her own family while juggling a full-time career and running a busy household. It seems to Robin that there is always somewhere to go, activities for her children, looking in on her parents, supporting her husband in his career as well as doing her own work. She is exhausted and not doing any of those things very well.
One evening Robin needs to make an important phone call. But when she tries to dial her phone, she discovers that the battery is dead. Robin feels the frustration and anger and helplessness start to rise but then – she gets it! A sudden flash of insight! She recalls a saying she heard once, long ago: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Robin realizes that, just like her cell phone’s battery, she needs to replenish her own energy. She needs to take care of herself to be able to care for others.
Love Others As Much You Love Yourself
“Jesus said, ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.” These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.'” Matthew 22: 37-40 (The Message)
“Love others as well as you love yourself.” This begs the question: how well are you showing love to yourself? What does your self-care look like? Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Because . . .
- if I want to give food, what do I need? I need some food to give.
- if I want to donate money, what do I need? I need money to give.
- if I want to care for others, what do I need? I need to know what caring looks (and feels) like.
- if I want to show love, what do I need? I need to have love inside me.
If I’m to love others as much as I love myself, and I don’t love and take care of myself, then I am not loving others very well. I’m trying to pour from an empty cup.
Giving Your Best
You and I came here with a purpose. This is the focus for living an Excelerated Life™, a life of meaning, purpose, and Service.
Our Purpose has three distinct components. We have a universal purpose. This can be represented in Abraham Maslow’s words: “What one can be, one must be.” Then we have a unique purpose: your own important reason for living, your calling. Last, we all have an ultimate purpose: to give our best in Service to the world as we love others as much as we love ourselves.
But how can you give your best . . .
- if you’re exhausted?
- if you’re constantly on the go?
- if your days are filled to overflowing with things you “have” to do?
Just as you have to charge your phone’s battery to keep it working, you must charge your own “battery” to be able to give your best, or in fact to give anything at all.
Filling an Empty Cup
As you think of ways to love yourself so you can better love and serve others, remember these areas:
- Do something fun.
- Help someone/do something for others.
You can increase feelings of happiness and well-being by engaging in physical activity. There are a number of ways in which physical activity boosts happiness. Mastering a sport or taking up a fitness regimen lets you feel in control of your body and your health. Seeing yourself get better at something – stronger, faster, more skillful – provides a sense of self-worth. Physical activity offers potential for flow. When performed along with others, physical activity can provide opportunities for social contact, improving social support and reinforcing friendships.
But remember that how you choose to be active makes a difference. It doesn’t help to work out in the morning and then sit at your desk the rest of the day. You must find ways to move throughout the day. You can find some specific suggestions here.
When we look at the effects of not getting enough sleep, it becomes readily apparent why sleep matters. These are some of the issues you may have to deal with if you are not sufficiently rested. [“Sleep, Learning, and Memory.”]
- You have trouble maintaining focus and attention
- It is harder to take in and understand information.
- Your brain loses some ability to make the neural connections needed to properly process or recall information.
- Your judgment becomes impaired.
- Long term, a chronic lack of sleep leads to multiple health issues.
If you’re still wondering why sleep matters, consider these benefits of getting sufficient sleep. [“Get Enough Sleep.”]
- You get sick less often.
- You’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
- You lower your risk for serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- You’ll reduce stress and improve your mood.
- You can think more clearly and do better in school and at work.
- You’ll get along better with people.
Engagement is the E in Dr. Martin Seligman’s well-being model, PERMA. [Seligman] (To review, the other components are Positive emotion, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.) Engagement, Dr. Seligman tells us, is related to the state of flow. Flow, recall, is that state when you “lose yourself” in an absorbing activity. It isn’t necessarily pleasant at the time, nor easy. In fact, getting into flow usually requires that we are performing at the height of our ability in our chosen pursuit. So, although it isn’t easy, engagement contributes to flourishing and well-being, necessary components of a full cup.
Do Something Fun
We all (or most of us, I think) grew up hearing the old maxim: “All work and no play makes Jack/Jane a dull boy/girl.” Old saws like that stick around because, even though they are clichés, they have a ring of truth to them. Research indicates that having fun is a necessary part of filling your empty cup.
The “fun” we are talking about here is related to flow and engagement. Often, we give the name “fun” to any type of leisure activity. But not all those activities contribute to a full cup. In fact, some (think watching TV or mindlessly scrolling through social media) may actually make us feel worse in the end. According to author Catherine Price, fun of the replenishing, renewing kind, has three aspects: flow, playfulness, and connection. [Price]
Flow, as we discussed above, is the state of being fully absorbed in what you are doing. Playfulness involves lightheartedness and doing something for the sheer pleasure of doing it. These are atelic activities, things done for their own sake and not to achieve a particular end. Connection is doing these “fun” activities with other people (the Relationships in Seligman’s PERMA model).
Do Something for Other People
Kindness is one of the foundational principles of positivity. Extensive research has shown that being kind:
- causes you to perceive others more positively and in a more charitable light.
- heightens your sense of interdependence and brings cooperation in your social community.
- relieves guilt and discomfort over others’ difficulties and encourages awareness of and appreciation for your own good fortune.
- promotes a sense of confidence, optimism, and usefulness.
- gives you a feeling of control over your life.
Performing acts of kindness can jump-start a cascade of positive social consequences and satisfies a basic human need to connect with others. It’s a way to fill your cup while helping others at the same time.
Fill Your Empty Cup and Share It With Others
These are a few of the ways we can take care of ourselves and fill our empty cups. You can find even more ideas from these previous posts.
Your life may not be as hectic as our friend Robin’s. On the other hand, you may be stretched even thinner. Either way, you must take time to recharge your batteries and replenish your energy. You can’t give what you don’t have. In order to love others as well as you love yourself, you must love yourself. Otherwise, you’ve nothing to give others. So fill your empty cup. And take measures to keep it full. That is embracing your Excelerated Life™!
How well are you caring for yourself?
What is one self-care habit you could begin to keep your batteries charged and fill your cup?
Share your ideas by leaving a post below.
Excelerated Selffulness™ — taking excellent care of yourself — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Read more about the Excelerated Life™.
“Get Enough Sleep.” My Health Finder. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,. Web. January 24, 2021.
Price, Catherine. “Why We All Need to Have More Fun.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, May 11, 2022. Web. May 8, 2022.
Seligman, Ph.D., Martin E. P. Flourish. New York: Free Press, 2011.
“Sleep, Learning, and Memory.” Healthy Sleep. The Division of Sleep Medicine at
Harvard Medical School, December 18, 2007. Web. January 23, 2021.