Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about self-improvement. Surprise, surprise, I’m always thinking about self-improvement. But when I came across this post from Leo Babauto, the writer of Zen Habits blog, I started to rethink my constant need for self-improvement.
I am a person who craves perpetual self-improvement. My mind needs to feel like I am constantly improving myself, learning new things, nourishing myself and just generally become a better person all of the time. In his post, Leo talks about feeling a constant struggle between wanting to improve himself and wanting to be content. And, that’s something I can totally relate to.
I make an effort to improve myself every day because I believe that improving my mind, body and soul will help me to continue striving for contentment. I’m not saying that I’m not content right now, because I am, but I think that I am limitless in terms of how much I can achieve, and that is why I like to push myself so much. But I also understand exactly how Leo feels. Attempting to constantly improve yourself can feel like you’re just trying to reach the next goal and never being feeling that achievement which comes with accomplishing something.
When I hit my goals, my first thought is rarely ‘yes, I’ve done it’ but more, ‘what’s the next goal?’ Right now, I don’t feel that this is a problematic way to be. Currently it just means that I’m really stretching myself to be the best person that I can be, but I can see how it could become an obsession, as Leo talks about.
I can admit that I push myself to find meaning, to find the ‘thing’ that just clicks in my head and makes everything make sense. But I am also aware that the ‘thing’ that I am looking for may never exist. This level of contentment that I am striving for, despite being content right now, may be more than can be reached. After all, if I am content now, why am I looking to be more content? Wouldn’t that mean that I feel like something is missing currently?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I don’t think anyone could, but like Leo, I am trying now to find a balance. There are goals that I would love to achieve that I know that I would be able to, yet I am reassessing them now. Do I want to run a marathon because I’ve seen other people do it and think it would be cool? Or do I want to run a marathon because I feel it would give me more meaning? I’m somewhere in between the two but for now running a marathon has been struck off my life goals list.
Self-improvement is important. It’s what nourishes us, makes us better people and sometimes what keeps us going. But don’t let it become the be all and end all. There is more to life than simply what is meaningful, and if you’re solely focused on activities that improve you, then you might just miss the pointless but fun parts of life.