Embarrass Yourself

Earlier today, I looked back at a couple of pieces I wrote months ago. I cringed. And then I remembered this little quote:

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”

Alain de Botton

He’s right, isn’t he?

It’s impossible to live a good life if your chief strategy is to avoid being embarrassed, or doing things you have a higher-than-zero chance of regretting, or that you might cringe when you look back on one day.

I suggest the opposite: consciously do something every day that has the potential to be embarrassing to your future self.

Most people watching won’t even notice the embarrassing nature of the thing you do. Of the ones that do notice, most of them won’t remember it for long – don’t forget, they have their own lives to live. And of the ones that do remember, most of them won’t think poorly of you. They will more likely admire you for having some guts. They might even be envious.

And if they do happen to think poorly of you, or try to tease or mock you with it, forget them. You don’t need them. They are unhappy people. They must be – if they were happy with themselves, why would they be trying to bring you down?

Similarly, you must treat your past self with compassion. When you think of something that makes you cringe at the thought of who you used to be, laugh about it, and then realise that it’s just a sign of how far you’ve come.

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