“Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?” – Atlas Shrugged
Aside from creating something I believe in, I never feel better than when I’m surrounded by people or things that I admire.
When I come into that state of admiration, I forget about cultivating my image or playing my own self-deceptions. My eyes are fixed on the greatness in front of me. I’m fully engaged in loving something and wanting to see it come into its fullness.
Time spent looking around me is time wasted.
Time spent looking down on others just brings me lower.
Time spent looking higher raises me up. Life follows the eyes, and (to paraphrase Jesus) where your admiration is, there your heart will be also. It’s ironic. The more time I spend admiring the goodness in others (or other things), the more I find admirable things cropping up in myself.
There is no pettiness in admiration. There is no dishonesty in it, either. It’s a vulnerable state and an open one. As such, it’s the best possible state for creativity. And it’s one of the best possible states for a virtuous life.
Surround yourself with people you admire. Surround yourself with work you admire. Look for things to admire in everything. You’ll find yourself becoming a better person, and you may even lift other people higher, too. Self-regard will take care of itself when you know how to engage with your world and regard it with awe and love.