Self Improvement

The older I get, the clearer it becomes that self-improvement is a complete waste of time!

That sounds harsh, but please hear me out.

Walk into any major bookstore. Odds are, the largest section is self-improvement, and the largest section within that area is diet plans.

So let’s test my theory out. Have you ever known anyone who bought a diet plan, lost weight and permanently kept it off? 

Me neither!

Moving on from diet plans, we find self-help advice on how to make ourselves more attractive, how to build confidence, and how to learn a new language in six weeks. 

Have you ever met anyone who learned a new language in six weeks or suddenly became more attractive?

Me neither! 

Please understand me. I am not suggesting we lack the need to improve; I’m simply pointing out that self-help guides are not the answer.

Why is that? Do we collectively lack the discipline to follow through? Are the self-help suggestions wrong? 

I recently spoke with an acquaintance who is a New York Times best-selling author in the self-help field. He told me that forty-thousand such books are published every year.  

That’s a big market! Why would so many people read so many books that produce so little value beyond entertainment?

The answer is easy! We are preoccupied with “Self!”

When in the company of individuals who are in love with their own voice, I often find my “Self” thinking, “Seriously, would you stop talking so we can bring the conversation back to me!”

I am an introvert, kind of. Before retirement, I spent a lot of time with managers in our sales division. I found the meetings and entertaining exhausting, but most people found me to be a decent conversationalist. 

Want to know my secret? (Sorry if this sounds boastful). I simply asked people questions about themselves! They carried on for hours as I nodded in approval!

Here is the point I want to make:

Would you like to be happier? Would you like to experience greater peace and joy in life? If so, work on losing the “Self” rather than improving it!

Most of our anxiety, suffering, and discontent arise from things that don’t please our “Self.” That all goes away when we let go of “Self.”  

To be clear, this is not self-help advice. It’s the opposite. My advice (and I really am trying to take my own medicine) is to get beyond “Self.”

The problem is, it’s crazy hard to do, like even harder than avoiding our favorite dessert! But, this is not new learning! The Bible’s second greatest commandment (after loving the Lord with all your heart) is loving your neighbor as yourself!

Message me if you’ve got that one down!

The mantra of the boomer generation, my tribe, can be summed up in three words, “More, Me, Now!” It doesn’t work.

I find the more I let go of “Self,” the better I feel. 

The only problem is the clock is running down, and I have yet to move the ball much past my own ten-yard line!


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One Reply to “Self Improvement”

  1. So much truth in this one it’s scary. My theory this spring has been – buy bigger shorts and enjoy life. Only problem is it’s becoming a little to obvious.


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