Self Improvement is a beaten up term. Such a pure and noble meaning, yet it's been dragged through the mud to connotate seminars in low end hotel conference rooms and people who chant, "I manifest everything for life's highest purpose", but live otherwise unremarkable lives.
Self improvement has a stigma to it. It's embarrassing to be into it. So embarrassing, in fact, that some of its modern day figureheads have tried to rename it. Personal Development. Lifestyle Design. Self Actualization. Fluffy euphemisms, some of which admittedly do sound pretty cool.
But I'll come out and say it. I love self improvement. I don't need to call it anything else,I like it for what it is.
Life is unpredictable. New people come in without warning, best friends move to Tempe, Arizona. The unexpected happens constantly. New opportunities you've never even fathomed fall on your lap, and accidents happen that change everything.
I don't know about you, but when I try to predict what my life will look like in any significant distance in the future, I'm almost always dead wrong. Sometimes comically so.
I've only been alive for twenty seven years. I can't even imagine trying to predict what things will be like by the time I'm 80.
But the one constant in life that I can count on, as long as I'm alive, is myself. I'll always be here. Anything I put in to bettering myself will improve my life forever.
If I learn something important now, it will be there to guide me for the rest of my life. Habits I start now are more than likely to follow me to the grave. Exercising and eating right will prolong my life and keep my body functioning properly for a long time to come. I'll be able to talk to and have relationships with more people if I speak more languages. The more I know and discover the more I can help other people live life like they want to.
Self improvement has the practical potential to make every second of life better.
In other words, self improvement is the ultimate investment. If other activities are the equivalent of spending money, self improvement is the process of investing it.
There's nothing wrong with spending, but something should be invested as well. And, like interest, the effect is compounded. A little bit every day becomes a ton in a year or two.
Self improvement isn't a wholly selfish pursuit either. When you work on yourself and improve yourself, you become more pleasant and satisfying to be around. I'm no Ghandi, but I know that I've been able to positively impact a lot of peoples' lives in ways I would have been incapable of before.
For me, Self Improvement is the ultimate hobby. It should never totally consume one's life, but I think we all have dead time we could fill with learning or bad habits we could replace with better ones.
Reject the idea that self improvement is for losers or that it's all new age wishful thinking. Yes there are losers who are into it (don't they need it the most, and aren't they at least DOING something about it?). Yes there are paths in it that aren't particularly effective, but that's true of anything.
I love self improvement and will never stop being a part of it. If I can do anything for the field I hope that I can show people that it is a cool thing to do and share ideas and techniques that have really made a difference in my life.
Just over a year ago I was in this same place. It's a short and touristy row of shops leading up to a temple in Asakusa, Japan. Last time I was here it was my first time in Japan, which meant that I was so enthralled with being there that I didn't realize what a tourist trap it was.
Now I'm here again and I see the place in a different light. I've lived in Japan for almost two months now as part of my year long trip around the world.
As I look up at the paper lanterns dangling above the street I have a thought.
I was thinking a little bit this morning about my continual quest for good habits and self-improvement and started wondering why I do this. It seems to me that there are two types of people in this world: those that care about improving themselves and those that don't. I'm definitely one of the former.
From all I've seen and read, those that do fit into that first group don't merely care about improving themselves, but often obsess over it. We plan our days, set crazy goals, read about it, write about it, meditate because of it, and on and on. It can often be the driving source of our confidence and well being throughout the day.
The second group of people is more varied. They aren't necessarily lazy people. Many of them are actually way more successful than those in the first group and some of them even have better habits. They just don't think about all this crap. I know a lot of very successful, balanced, and happy people who have never picked up a book about self-improvement in their lives. It all just comes easy to them. I guess they are just naturals.
That said, I'm definitely not one of those people, and I know from friends and strangers alike that there are plenty of people like me.