Have you ever heard a tiny little voice in your head telling you to do something that when you rationalized it, you’re like “You know what little voice? I really vibe with what you have to say”. Then right after, you proceed to the exact opposite thing it advised you? Yeah, me too. And then right after that, you question your life and are like “Oh em gee. Why did I do this, and what is my life even?” which warrants the question “Do I even care about self-improvement”?
So let’s tackle the question: “Do I even care about self-improvement”? In order to dive deep into this question, we need to collectively understand a key point:
If I want to self-improve, I must take 100% responsibility for my feelings, my thoughts, and my actions.
Now this is especially difficult because there are so many circumstances in our life in which we blame others or hold others responsible for the way we feel. And how does this turn out? We wait for an apology. We hold grudges. We curse them. We remain unhappy. That person could be totally unaware, but it is essentially us, who suffer. So reworded, If I want to be truly happy, I must take full responsibility for the way I feel, the way I think, and the way I act.
Now let’s define Self-improvement:
Self-improvement results when you have anticipated or experienced a problem, based on your values, and then put in conscious effort to improve future experiences.
Let’s break this definition down:
Without perceiving a problem, there would be no need or desire to improve. Now, your mom can tell you that screaming and throwing your pet gerbil across the room aren’t the best ways to deal with anger, but unless YOU yourself perceive it as a problem, there will be no need or desire to improve. Now once you come to the realization that Juniper the Gerbil is dead, and you lost your voice from screaming, you make a choice. That choice is to try and implement a change that would improve future experiences. The stronger/better your value is, the more likely the change will be sustainable. Now if you really valued caring for other beings and to not hurt others, maybe Juniper would still be with us. #RIPJuniper
Problems and solutions are based on what your values are and to what magnitude you adhere to those values.
You can address perceived problems in 3 ways:
You can ignore it and/or promise yourself you’ll change one day
You can temporarily deal with it to give yourself a little ego boost, followed by temporary happiness OR
You can dedicate yourself to creating sustainable solutions
Here are some common examples of problems:
Here are common solutions:
Feel fat --> join a support group of other fat people --> Feel less fat
Feel stress --> Ignore problem and watch Youtube videos --> feel less stress
Feel lonely --> get a boyfriend/girlfriend --> feel less lonely
I am not saying these are right or wrong solutions, I’m just saying they are solutions. In fact, these are temporary solutions. A yellow man once said, “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is to never try”. Homer Simpson gives us another way to deal with problems.
However, you and I both know these aren’t sustainable solutions.
Sustainable solutions are habits from cumulative actions driven by belief and adherence to values that result in an improvement of one’s physical, social, mental, sexual, and/or spiritual health.
The only way you can observe your values is to be cognizant of your actions.
Here are three types of actions:
Low leveled (pain/pleasure) driven actions - consistently hurt yourself and hurts others, excusing yourself repeatedly, lying, stealing, cheating etc. Example: Lying about yourself to others consistently to the point that you're always in the process of justifying/explaining yourself and hating others for not trusting you.
Bargainer/Transactional driven actions – premeditated with the desire to get a certain result out of someone or something. Honesty vs. Manipulation. Example: Telling someone what he or she wants to hear so they like you back vs. telling someone what you wish to express yourself freel. If you’ve thought/screamed “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME”... then this is reflective of a transaction.
Higher leveled actions – motivated by deeper ethical principles that you’re willing to suffer for because you believe they are right in all contexts, regardless of the outcome it has on you. These actions tend to be sustainable solutions towards self-improvement.
Now we must ask ourselves: Do I even care about self-improvement? Do I really want to better my actions and values while redefining priorities? Do I want to keep suffering the result of my/others’ actions, or do I want to create better value systems for sustainable solutions? How do I listen to my inner voice?
Now don’t get me wrong, we’ll fail in the process of creating sustainable solutions. But the better you “know thyself” – the easier it is to start/continue on the journey of self-improvement.
We believe the endless quest in the utter gladness of new realizations is the sign and symptom of a Sikh.