self improvement 101

“What if the question is not why I am so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?” 

– Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I will admit that I have read a lot of what you would call “self help” or “self improvement” books in my life so far.  Many of them fall into the Buddhist or New Age (*cringe* I hate what that label has come to mean) genre and many of them have had an impact on me.  Some more than others of course.

The problem with constantly reading about different ways of thinking about bettering one’s life is that you end up with a lot of advice, coming from different people, who subscribe to different philosophies.  One idea that I always come back to, even though I cannot remember its source, is that all we really need to do is think about our “ideal self” and act accordingly.  So any decision, big or small, would be best acted out if we could pause even for a moment and ask what the person we most want to be would do.  The sad thing I realized, which is reflected in the opening quote, is how often I act completely against my better self, which really makes me question how the heck I am making some of these decisions.

This also ties in with an idea I heard from Wayne Dyer in a few of his talks.  He explains that self-improvement’s goal is never to be better than anyone else, it is actually only trying to be better that you used to be.  I think that is actually a very comforting and realistic way to look at things.  I may not be the ideal person I would like to be at the moment, but if I am making even small steps towards it and therefore becoming better than I was, well that’s pretty good right there!

 

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