Journey of Life

the place formerly known as control your destiny

Self Improvement

Have I been reading too much into the meaning of “Self Improvement”? and could my angle of approach, have had a potentially negative impact rather than a positive?

Let me make myself a bit clearer.

The word “Self Improvement” seems to indicate that there is something wrong with me. That I have to improve areas of me and my life. Now there are many areas that I would like to change in my life, but I think,  if I approach it from the angle of improving it seems to add some kind of pressure onto it and maybe that is why I so rarely complete some of the stuff I start. Also, if I contantly think about having to improve my life, am I instead reaffirming that there is something wrong with my life and who I am? I used to always think that in order for me to find happiness, I would have to make dramatic changes in all areas – financially, emotinally, romantically, carreer, status etc. What an enormous pressure to put on oneself!

I am beginning to realise, and more importantly believe, that I can choose happiness at any point! So far the easiest way for me to achive this has been down to finding things to be grateful for, finding more ways to love and respect myself and writing my journal and this blog.

Another thing I have been questioning for such a long time is why the success rate of the “self help” “self improvement” stuff out there is so low (for me at least). Now I have no statistical data to back up this statement, I am just going by my experience and lack of results. There is a very good chance that it is purely down to how I approached the material.

However, for the purpose of this, lets assume that  I am right. Is it possible that if you digested all the self help material out there (assuming that would be humanly possible) you would never experience what the material promises you? I have questioned this numerous times before and then yesterday, during  a moment of frustration and despair of feeling stuck, I read this article on Journey of the Soul and what an eyeopener! Please have a read of it as the rest of this may make more sense.

What I have come to realise, is that I have learned something from all of the material I have ever gone through. Sometimes very very little, sometimes a lot more, but never exactly what it promised on the package. And quite often, after a little while, I was back to the old ways.

I could be completely wrong in my thinking here but I think it is time to try a different approach. A more simple and light hearted approach!

I think that gratitude and love for myself is a good starting point, knowing that, I am absolutely fine exactly as I am and do not need to improve in anyway, however, whenever I choose to change any aspect of my life I will find a way that works for me.

Best wishes

J

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9 responses to “Self Improvement

  1. lostsoul2009 January 28, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Loving yourself of course is an important part… but I have to disagree with you a little bit on some of the things you wrote.

    I think Self Improvement doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with you… I think there is always room to become better, and I don’t believe anyone ever reaches perfection. A lot of these types of books helped me have a better understanding of myself in general, why I may think or act the way I do. I also believe that it gives you tools and shows you a way of thinking that improves your emotional intelligence, a way to understand those around you better and even, a higher sense of empathy.

    Now, I don’t believe that anyone can choose happiness at any given time… and I don’t think they should. Why? Because I truly believe that happines is a short-lived emotion and state, and once it wears off, you are either unhappy and want more, or… the best solution yet, you are CONTENT with what you have… now contentment is what lasts forever… and it is something you CAN choose to be.

    No matter how much or how little these books (or others!) contribute to you, it is still something and an improvement… which, then, really does somehow fulfill its promise of “self-improvement” at least to some degree.

    🙂

  2. fibi January 28, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I’m with you J.. We have all our answers inside – it’s just a matter of learning how to tune in – rather than looking to externals to give us the answers (and even though I know this, I can still get hooked into the “promises” these books and people make!! Strange really).. Thank you for the link – I feel honoured..

  3. J January 28, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Hi LostSoul2009,

    I agree there is always room for improvement, which is why I continue to learn and grow and like I said, I always learn something from whatever it is that I choose to read.
    I also think that contentment was the word I was looking for when I wrote this post, instead of happiness. I still think that anyone can decide to be content with what they have at any given time although it is easier said than done. I can quite easily go through times of self pity, and snapping out of it can be very difficult. But then I read something and end up feeling better, which means there has been some improvement. My point of the post was to make myself aware that sometimes I am just too hard on myself.

    Thank you

    J

  4. J January 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Thank you Fibi,

    “ephiphany” really was an eye opener for me and I have been back to read it quite a few times along with “Your Song” which is just stunning.
    The interesting thing is that whenever I look for answers outside myself they all tell me to look inside myself but never how and I guess that is my next lesson!

    Thank you for the comment and the “eyeopener”

    Best wishes

    J

  5. shiona January 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Hi, J! I’ve been thinking about this post for some time before sending my comment. Once I again I must admit I’m in a very similar situation as you are. And I have started to realize that the reason for me to feel almost permanent dissatisfaction with myself is that I am extremely critical of myself. I can see others being quite lenient and indulgent to themselves. And much happier than me, too. Now reading your blog, I strongly believe this is also true of your attitude to yourself. You expect too much from yourself.
    I also wanted to say that it is very natural that people don’t learn and put to use everything they have read. Look at it in a different way – you learn and remember exactly what you need and are able to make use of at that certain moment.
    Take care!

  6. J January 29, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Shiona,

    Your comment is wonderful and you have hit the nail on the head; I have come to realise that I am far too critical of myself and always expect too much from myself. I too, see others around me feeling happy and good to themselves.
    The interesting thing here, (which has just dawned on me) is that people around me, including friends and family perceive me and see me as always being “Mr Happy” and always looking for the positive, but for some reason I feel unable to express myself or talk to them honestly about how I feel as if it would be a burden to them. Yet at the same time, I am the one people come to when they are feeling down and that has never been a burden to me!
    I guess this is why writing on here gets stuff of my chest, and reading other people’s comments helps me realise that I am not the only one that goes through this.

    Thank you

    With best wishes

    J

  7. Brynn January 29, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Great post J, very interesting dilemma. While I agree that we are all on our own unique journey, we also have the power to choose where the journey goes. I also read heaps of self help/improvement books searching for the elusive one that will rock my world but I have recently had an epiphany of my own. Us humans have become lazy and the ego loves it. We think that by reading a book once our life will change, or by attending a seminar we’ll walk out a new person. We need to decide what we want out of life, find a book which will point the way, and read it over and over again. I watched an online video by Bob Proctor about how he got to where he is today. It’s simple, he read ‘Think & Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill over and over again, and practiced what he read, thereby changing his habits, he still reads it to this day. Changing habits and recognizing when the ego interferes, that’s the starting point in my humble opinion.

  8. J January 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Brynn,

    I like your take on this and I agree that there is a huge difference between reading a book once, and actually studying it! I have seen the Bob Proctor clip too and I realise that I have been good at reading stuff but I think it is a good time to start the studying and practicing. The good news is, that I have got heaps of material to start studying and who knows what my results will be second time around!

  9. shiona February 4, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Hi J,

    Thinking about others around you seeing as Mr. Happy, I just realized that the same thing is happening in my life. I know almost everyone’s secrets at work and my friends can call me any time of day or night to share their troubles with me. At the same time, I don’t feel people know or understand me, no matter how much they trust me or like me. That’s why I started my blog.

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