By Loving Yourself You Open Up to Caring For the World

So much of what we see on television and movies, in magazines, and online is geared, whether intentionally or unintentionally, toward making us feel bad about ourselves. We think if we could only be skinnier, prettier, or richer, we would finally feel good about ourselves. But we won’t find the love we need if we keep looking for external validation. We need to look inward for that, according to bestselling author Ilchi Lee.

In his books, Earth Citizen and Earth Management: A Dialogue on Ancient Korean Wisdom and Its Lessons for a New Earth, Lee writes about how hope for the future of our planet and mankind is tied to learning to care both for ourselves and the world around us. Learning to love ourselves can be a hard lesson at any age.

Sometimes, creating feelings of self-approval can be as easy as turning on some inspiring music. Music has been important to mankind since the beginning of time, and it continues to be a universal way of expressing and exploring our feelings.

A K-pop group, BTS, also called the Bangtan Boys or, now, Behind the Scene, is one of the groups that is leading the charge for self-approval with songs that remind people to feel good about themselves. The South Korean boy band has seven members and has scored big with fans with hits like “Love Myself,” which carry messages many of us could benefit from.

Lee’s Take on the Importance of Loving Yourself

When you feel bad about yourself, you don’t feel love for yourself. That doesn’t only impact you, however. It can be hard to make connections with the people and places around you as well. You don’t feel as if you are worthy of the love of others—you can feel disengaged and isolated, so you push them away.

It’s hard to want to improve mankind and the world around you when you have so many feelings of negativity. That’s why it’s crucial to find a way to look inward, like what you see, and realize you can make a difference when you accept all that you are—and even all that you aren’t. Loving yourself opens you up to loving others, feeling empathy, and wanting to work toward the greater good. Instead of feeling isolated, you begin to feel as if you are a worthy and valued member of a team.

But the first step to loving yourself is getting to know yourself. That involves peeling back the superficial layers many of us use to describe ourselves and looking at our core beliefs and goals instead.

“When asked, ‘Who are you?’ people can’t answer, no matter how high their level of education or voluminous their knowledge. They’d be able to give their name. That name, though, is not who they are,” Lee said. “Knowing your true worth is different from knowledge. Once we’ve discovered our worth, we can love ourselves, we can heal ourselves, we can teach ourselves, and we can give ourselves enlightenment.”

Lee loves the message BTS is trying to put out for its audience—that they shouldn’t wander in search of love. Instead, they should look internally for that love. And once that love is unlocked, your heart and mind will be in synch so you’ll be able to use your brain to its fullest capacity.

Many people mistakenly think their brain isn’t worth much. They can feel inferior or even dumb because they didn’t do well in traditional school. But there are all different kinds of intelligence. And having emotional intelligence is every bit as important, if not more important, than the lessons you’ll learn about math and science in school.

“Did the Bangtan Boys have good grades? Did they graduate from good middle schools or high schools? No,” Lee said. “How did they become so famous, then? They discovered their self-worth and did what they really wanted to do. And the people around them helped, enabling them to do that. What I’m saying is that it wasn’t compulsory education.”

After you find a way to love yourself, Lee said, you also learn to heal yourself and teach yourself by using brain power. You begin to believe in yourself, knowing you can do things you once thought were impossible.

“It is ultimately the brain that discovers great dreams. It is also the brain that causes us to think, ‘This is it!’ of those great dreams. Your brain must awaken. Those whose brains are awake can find a great dream,” Lee said. “If your brain is not awake, though you have eyes, you cannot see, and though you have ears, you cannot hear. Your brain is locked, so your eyes and ears don’t open.”

By learning to love yourself, believing in yourself, caring about others, remembering you are part of the bigger picture, and unlocking the power of your brain, you can achieve great things—both for yourself and for the world.

Walking the Way of New Life

About two years ago, Ilchi Lee began building what he calls Earth Village near the town of Kerikeri on the North Island of New Zealand. As he writes in his new book, I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation, Earth Village is designed to be “a residential school and community where hundreds of people can experience a self-reliant, earth-friendly lifestyle in a place where humans and nature live in harmony—a beautiful woodland area of 380 acres.”

Ilchi Lee book - I've Decided to Live 120 Years

At Earth Village, guests and residents can feel what Ilchi Lee calls their true selves more easily with the help of the pristine, natural setting. It is also a community where they can live authentically based on this discovery. To do so and “transcend their small selves and begin to embrace others and the world” is what it means to be an Earth Citizen, according to Ilchi Lee. Earth Citizens also live with a purpose and vision for their lives, for their entire lives—regardless of their age.

Earth Village - The Way of New Life - New Zealand

To help people begin their journey to becoming an Earth Citizen, Ilchi Lee developed a walking path called The Way of New Life. The course includes a wooden stairway through the forest of 120 steps, with each step representing a year in a 120-year life—the number of years scientists think human beings may have the potential to live.

While visitors climb the first 60 steps they reflect on their lives so far, and let go of any mistakes they have made, regrets they have, or ideas that no longer serve them. They also consider what their goals for material success are. During the second 60 steps, they look to the future and envision their spiritual development and success. A broad wooden deck in the middle represents a transition period between these two hypothetical stages of life.

Ilchi Lee's Earth Village steps

Ilchi Lee calls “the first 60 years your congenital destiny and the next 60 years your acquired destiny. Your congenital destiny is the destiny you were born with and the one the world has constantly imposed on you, and your acquired destiny is the destiny you create for yourself by your own choices and effort.” The Way of New Life opens the trail for a new acquired destiny.

By reflecting on our lives in this way while on this path, we not only paint a broader vision for our future, but become better able to derive new meaning from the small moments of our daily life. We get a picture of the whole forest in addition to the trees and learn what it is we truly want.

The Way of New Life is a trail Ilchi Lee has blazed to make it easier for all who travel it to discover their value and gain the courage to express it in their lives.

Earth Citizen Consciousness

Earth Citizen by Ilchi LeeOurs is a society in which citizens worry about their country more than the state worries about its citizens. Therefore, citizen consciousness is gradually becoming more important.

What kind of consciousness should citizens have? Ilchi Lee says should have an Earth Citizen consciousness. Earth Citizens, as defined by this New York Times bestselling author, are people who look to benefit all, the whole earth. Their concern transcends the borders of nations and the divisions between religions. With such a wide and lofty spirit and philosophy, Earth Citizens can change individual lifestyles and social policies.

Their awareness that everything on Earth (and everywhere) is interconnected drives Earth Citizens to overcome any doubt, fear, depression, or anger they may face in their lives and act for the good of all. The thoughts, words, and actions of Earth Citizens are harmonious with treating themselves well as they treat all others well. When they make decisions, for each option they consider, they ask themselves, “Is this good for me, for others, and for the Earth?” The options they choose are the ones for which they can answer yes to all three.

Why live as an Earth Citizen? Because an Earth Citizen consciousness and lifestyle is one that makes you profoundly peaceful and happy. And when you do things that are good for you, but not good for others and the Earth, the negative consequences that result will affect you someday. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and walk on the same land; what we do reverberates through them.

To spread the Earth Citizen consciousness, Ilchi Lee initiated the Earth Citizen Movement. The torch he lit is now being carried by thousands of others, organized by the Earth Citizens Organization (ECO). The primary actions of ECO members and leaders are to awaken people’s empathy and compassion through the mind-body training developed by Ilchi Lee. This naturally leads to adopting an Earth Citizen consciousness, which can lead to better choices for a better future for all.