What’s the Point of Self-Improvement Anyway?

There’s a paradox with self-improvement and it is this: the ultimate goal of all self-improvement is to reach the point where you no longer feel the need to improve yourself.

Think about it: The whole goal of improving your productivity is to reach the point where you never have to think about how to be more productive. The whole point of pursuing happiness is to reach the point where one no longer has to think about being happy. The whole point of improving your relationships is so that you can enjoy some drama-free cunnilingus in the McDonald’s drive-thru without almost crashing the car.

(Still working on that last one.)

Self-improvement is therefore, in a weird way, ultimately self-defeating.

The only way to truly achieve one’s potential, to become fully fulfilled, or to become “self-actualized” (whatever the fuck that means), is to, at some point, stop trying to be all of those things.

Original Article

Self-love is the basis for self-improvement

There’s a quandary I hear people talk about a lot in the self-improvement world which goes something like this: “Should I keep trying to change, or should I just learn to love myself?”

The people posing this question almost invariably feel terrible about themselves, and further, they assume that’s par for the course. It isn’t. In fact this whole “self-love vs self-improvement” thing is a false dilemma, one that badly misunderstands the role of self-love.

This equates loving yourself with thinking you’re just fine the way you are. It treats self-love as a reward for being the person you want to be. It assumes that your self-regard should be based, in some sense, on you being objectively “good.” And conversely, it equates wanting to change with disliking yourself. But ask yourself- is this true of your love for other people?

If you love someone else, surely that means you want the best for them? You want them to be healthy, happy and successful. If you have children, you want them to do well in school. If a friend is unhappy with their life, you want their life to change so they’ll be happy.

Apply the same standards to yourself that you do to others- love yourself the way you love your friends and family. Decide to be better because you deserve better; because you love yourself and want to enable yourself to live your ideal life.

Original Article

How to Supercharge Your Learning and Self-Improvement

One of my favorite pieces of ancient wisdom comes from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus:

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

Sure, that may not be the real reason we have two ears and one mouth, but it reveals a useful pattern that we see repeated in communication in general.

Communication essentially has two parts: transmission and reception. These will manifest differently depending on the medium, but the general scheme is the same.

  • Textual Communication: writing and reading
  • Verbal Communication: speaking and listening
  • Pictorial communication: displaying and viewing

Simply Put, 2:1 Is Key

If we expand Epictetus’s aphorism into a suggestion for how to more effectively communicate, we get something like the following:

When it comes to communication, you should work hard to receive twice as much as you transmit.

In other words, you should listen twice as much as you speak, read twice as much as you write, and pay twice as much attention as you receive. Let me unpack that last one a bit actually, as it’s a bit complex.

When around others, we can either be looking to get attention, or we can be paying attention to those around us. The difference between the two is just like the difference between talking and listening — though it expands far beyond the realm of verbal communication. It’s about your attitude as a communicator — your purpose for communicating. And a 2:1 ratio helps to remind us that we should be communicating in a way that helps to enrich us, and to build relationships.

Original Article