Hi there--hope you're doing well. Like everyone, you're trying the best you can to find peace and happiness, and you have a natural, inborn dignity and sanity that has nothing to do with the ups and downs you go through.
So I love you, and very best wishes to you in your life.
Relatedly, if you don't like yourself, that's really unnecessary and holding you back. Try to imagine yourself the way you were as a four-year-old child--that person just wanted to be happy, and the idea that he or she might not be enough or be worthy never came up. That sort of self-acceptance hasn't gone anywhere in you; it's just gotten clouded over by a lot of pain and complexity. You can definitely find it again, and you deserve it.
Other than that, I wrote some things I wanted to share:
These have been really important for me in my life. Obviously, I have my own strong opinions about them, but I think just asking them might be helpful.
-What can we work toward other than pleasure? Pain and pleasure come and go. My life is generally happy at the moment, but I know many of the people reading this are having a very difficult time; and, of course, my life has felt painful and deprived at other times, and will again.
We can't rely on pleasure. So what should our goals be? Should we just roll the dice and hope we're happier than we are miserable? Or is there a kind of happiness or fulfillment that isn't affected by the ups and downs of life?
-Who doesn't deserve to be happy? Picture a person who you think is terrible--a personal enemy, a dictator, etc. Now ask: If that person could be happy (without ruining others' happiness), would you wish that for him or her? If not, why not? What goal or principle does that person's misery serve, and does our wishing it come from a positive or negative place? Is it ever valid to celebrate another person's suffering?
-How stable and sensible is our notion of a self? I know I am alive and aware--but who exactly is it that knows that? Who’s aware of the sense of "I" itself? Is "I" aware of "I" itself, or is the sense of "I" something that comes up in a larger space? If the latter, does that space still have a particular name or identity?
Here are a few things that I truly love, and hope you might too:
-Buddhism. The kindness, sanity, and wisdom I find in the Buddhist path have formed the basis for my life. I'd be happy to discuss my experiences and recommend books and other resources if you're interested.
-Jazz. I play jazz piano, so I'd recommend Brad Mehldau as an absolute colossus in jazz. Look for "Mehliana" on YouTube for him on keyboards with an amazing drummer, Mark Giuliana. They were in Boston last night, and it was easily the best show I've ever been to.
-Entrepreneurship. If you're highly competent and can tolerate risk, nothing I've found is as exhilarating, and nothing matches the pace of learning.
-If you're interested in meditation, please check out my business, Medivate. It's designed to help people make regular meditation a habit. It's free, and has a meditation timer, meditation log, goal tracker, and a lot else.
Lastly, I love you to my parents, and to Clara.
Very best wishes,