("Yes, I would imagine so ... You've been running around inside with your coat on.")
"No ... I'm hot. I'm pretty ... I'm attractive."
This was a recent conversation between me and my 8-year old son; my only contribution being the part in parentheses.
He cracked himself up with his clever play on words—and his flawless delivery of it, given while fully bundled in his winter coat, holding a baseball mitt, and tossing a ball against the wall, cracked me and his sister up.
From November through the new year, we talk a lot about gratitude, kindness, and giving, and in this exchange, I am reminded of the importance of gratitude for ourselves ... an honoring of just how "hot" we truly are.
Because we too often neglect this. Actually, worse: We too often actively practice gratitude in reverse, thoroughly convincing ourselves just how terrible we (most obviously) are.
But we're NOT terrible. We're beautiful.
You might be thinking: "But I don't think I'm terrible!"
But how many times in a day do you judge yourself against someone—anyone—else, in-person or online, in order to decide how you measure up?
How many times do you look in the mirror with the eye of an appraiser of rare jewels, intolerant of imperfection?
How many times do you curse yourself for doing or saying something "stupid?"
How many times do you say, "Sorry!" before asking a question, speaking a thought, while trying to get around somebody blocking your path, ordering a meal or handing someone your money at the checkout line? Which, you know, is essentially apologizing for simply existing.
How many times do you get stuck in a loop of past regrets that you can't let go of or future longings that you just know you'll never realize?
How many times does the voice in your head nag, critique and criticize? If it were a tiny person, would that voice be sitting back with one eyebrow cocked, arms crossed, shaking its head, and sucking its teeth and clucking its tongue at you?
But you're NOT terrible.
It's time to kick that no-good voice to the curb and get yourself a NEW voice. A BETTER voice. One that loves you with the unending ferocity of a puppy and that thinks you're as magical as an iridescent unicorn showering the earth with flecks of glittery gold.
You need a voice that says "DAAAANG!" every time you open your mouth. And when it does suck its teeth and cluck its tongue at you, it will be doing so because it's rendered speechless by your remarkable, radiant, one-of-a-kind magnificence.
And here's a really very important thing to remember:
If you can't do this for yourself, how can you expect your youth to do it for themselves?
Now, more than ever, our youth need to believe they are magnificent. They need to know, assuredly, that the world is better because they are in it.
And what a gift you will be giving them if you show them how.
Because DAAAANG! ... The Earth is literally squinting at that bright light that is you. So, go bask in the glow of it.
You are magnificent.
Erika Petrelli is a speaker, educator, blogger and mother. She has been in the field of education for more than 15 years and currently exercises her dynamic education experience as The Leadership Program's Vice President of Leadership Development.