It recently emerged (example: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/People+happier+countries+more+likely+commit+suicide/4674176/story.html) that Happiest Countries also have the Highest Suicide Rates. Even keeping it in prospective for regional variations within the countries, etc. is this one more evidence which supports acceptance? What about the effects that giving so much prominence to self-esteem/self-love/self-developmenet etc. has on suicidal behaviour? In Western psychology, it was often postulated that one needs to develop self-esteem in order to properly relate with the world.
Understanding the value and values of all beings is certainly necessary to interact with the word; however, what happens when we give to one own esteem a kind of priority on the rest? Focusing on self-esteem may result in the vicious circle: self-esteem, self, self-interest, greed, feeling disconnected from other people, need to reinforce self-esteem, etc. What about leaving self-esteem (which is strongly conditional) and moving towards acceptance (unconditional), appreciation and embracing? Would this have a beneficial impact and lower suicide rates in the happiest countries? With acceptance, instead of self-esteem, people in happiest countries would not feel the pressure of constant comparing to the ones who appear to be even luckier than them (in relationship, financially, healthy, career-wise, etc.).
Steven Hayes, with its Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), has been creating awareness about the importance of nurturing acceptance. And then, to commit to keep the valuable approaches, and make the necessary changes.
Albert Ellis, with his work including the book “The myth of self-esteem”, stated that self-esteem is conditional, while acceptance is unconditional. Such conditionality of self-esteem makes us vulnerable and harder to cultivate empathy. For these reasons, he suggested to cultivate acceptance. And also to rate our behaviours and traits, to rate our aliveness, choosing to live healthfully and peacefully. He suggested not to rate our overall “worth”, because people who assign negative values to it create a self-fulfilling prophecy of poor results. If one really wants to rate overall worth, he suggested to rate all beings positively, because we are all on the same boat, and all worthy.
He also invited people to know the difference between needing, and wanting what we really need is limited, what we want unlimited. If we let the craving grow, soon there will be little space for empathy and happiness.