I’ve always loved self-help. I was reading those books in high school, fascinated with growing closer and closer to my potential.
But self-help doesn’t necessarily make you happier. If you are constantly on the lookout to improve that means you are rarely satisfied. If you are always hoping the next self-help quest will make you like yourself better, it probably won’t happen.
Many of us put a lot of time and effort in getting more organized, more fit, more social, more whatever you feel you lack.
What if that time was spent with things that made you feel alive? Do you have to spend most of your free time on improvement projects? What if you left the dishes a night so you could create something for fun? Or hanging out? Or getting outside?
I know none of my self-improvement projects made me feel anything like taking voice lessons and being in my first play since college have. In fact, at play practice we spend a lot of time laughing at our mistakes. That was a turning point for me. I am happier and more alive. My life feels more my own.
Nature is another place where it’s about noticing, appreciating and being instead of improving. I receive immense energy from a short walk.
Mentoring kids. Going to the beach. Discussing books with friends. Praying. Non-productive, yet some of the things that make me feel connected in this world.
Putting off interesting, fulfilling things until we lose weight or manage our time better is such a waste.
None of this means, don’t improve. I think all of us want to become better human beings. But, maybe trade some of that focus on improving to joy-filled activities. What sparks your joy? What awakens you? What maybe scares you a little, but you want to do it?
I pick simplicity, not so I can live a safe, little life, but so I have more time and space to be engaged with life.
Photo by Heather Winia, during our dance by the beach