There is, I believe, no such thing as unconditional self-acceptance. Those who say so are promulgating a pernicious lie. One must first live a decent, honorable and productive life. Only then do you get to feel good about yourself. Seeking to heedlessly gratify your desires or impulses of the moment to do things (or fail to do things) your conscience knows to be contrary to your standards of right, worthy and virtuous behavior is, in a mental, emotional and spiritual sense, akin to spending capital that you have not earned, and therefore will eventually cause you to feel very negatively … about who and what you are. You cannot in the long run have your cake and eat it too. The longer … you behave in certain ways, the more it comes to define you, not only to others, but also to yourself.
It is attitude, infinitely more than circumstance, that determines the quality of life. Life is often quite tough, challenging us to choose between seemingly esoteric, intangible ideals and getting goodies or good vibes right now. You have character when you most often choose ideals.
Values are principles and ideas that bring meaning to the seemingly mundane experience of life. A meaningful life that ultimately brings happiness and pride requires you to respond to temptations as well as challenges with honor, dignity, and courage.
Thoroughly living life requires initiative, risk taking, sustained action against the odds, making sacrifices for ideals and for others, and leaps of faith. People who live such lives report being happy, hopeful, and exhilarated – even when they fail.
As satisfying as pleasure is, it is also transitory and superficial. Pleasure is an event. In contrast, happiness is a process. Pleasure is material. Happiness is spiritual. Pleasure is self-involved. Happiness involves others.