Why "Self-Improvement" Should Be "Self-Fulfillment"

Why "Self-Improvement" Should Be "Self-Fulfillment"

Moving the focus from improving yourself to fulfilling yourself is important

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"How do I figure out what I need to fix?"

"How can I improve my grades?"

"Why am I always overwhelmed by everything?"

Take a few scrolls through the r/selfimprovement subreddit and you'll see questions like these. The self-improvement movement has taken the nation by storm, with no shortage of books, videos, motivational speakers, and self-proclaimed experts ready to offer advice on how to live "your best life." It consists of offering advice on matters like happiness, stress, and agency, while telling you how to take back your life and make it what you want it to be. There's just one problem: you already know how to do "you."

Our modern lives are characterized by a rapid pace and frenetic sense of energy that, when spent, leaves us drained and unsure of what to do next. In the world of social media and manicured appearances, it is easy to feel like we are in a constant competition to impress. The facade of social media creates a fake sense of how we want others to see us. As a result, we are seeing the best that other people have to offer, all the time. But what is the real story?

Research suggests that mental health is suffering as a result of social media use. According to a study published online in Computers in Human Behavior on December 10, 2016, the risk of depression and anxiety rose with people who reported the most social media consumption. Additionally, social isolation is on the rise, and with it a cause of the mental health decline.

It is natural that many would look for ways to feel better about themselves in such a time. But it's gone too far.

These days it seems as if happiness and satisfaction have become imperative feelings that, if one is not experiencing, means something is seriously wrong. No longer are they ideals to strive for, but rather sensations that must be realized to have a meaningful and effective life.

This has stigmatized negative feelings; anything that feels painful or intolerable is disregarded as useless, when, actually, opening up to your struggles can help you become a better person. Burying our feelings only exacerbates the problem and creates a positive feedback loop where we turn to self-help material and then get only more distressed from what we perceive to be unattainable ideals. The unrealistic expectation of true happiness drives us to seek quick solutions to our problems, when in reality what we are searching for is much deeper. Our problems will never be solved by DIY manuals or online courses on meditation. What will only help is introspection and a fulfillment of the values we already hold. And that means being true to yourself, not some arbitrary standard.

The shallowness of the self-improvement movement is highlighted in its purported solutions; personally, I don't believe that anything that can seriously increase quality of life will be found online for $15 a month. No pricetag can be put on happiness. And this goes for free things too. Making antioxidant smoothies, creating routines to organize your tasks, and taking YouTube lessons on piano playing may be interesting hobbies to consider, but they are not the ways to make your life meaningful. This only works if you gain true enjoyment from it; hopping around to a bunch of different activities in an attempt to find some purpose will only leave you more confused. And of course, if those things truly make you happy, then, by all means, they can work. But they aren't the true solution, and who knows if in a year you'll leave those activities behind in search of other temporary fixes. The problem doesn't end with materialism; the solution starts with fulfilling yourself.

Of course, I'm not advocating to pursue risky behaviors because you enjoy them. In that case, it is important to seek serious medical help. I'm talking about finding your true self that leads you to a healthy lifestyle.

It's important to consider your values when trying to help yourself. Whatever you follow, pursue more of that. It's not about doing a 180 in your life. It's about forcing yourself to ponder the past, focus on your negative feelings, and reconcile them with what you know makes you happy. I would never really say that you are in need of improvement, because this makes you view yourself in a negative light. Rather, you are in need of fulfillment, because only you know what makes you happy. And if you don't, don't shelter yourself from struggle, because it can be in our darkest times when we see the light.

I urge everyone to not be constantly searching for improvement. Don't constantly assess how your life is compared to your peers. Try not to think about your life as being "a mess." And don't tear down your sense of self if you feel as if you are not achieving things. Because the thing is, you are. You are finding your way, and if that way is not as straightforward as your friend's, that only means that you will have more learning experiences to help you achieve what you want. Try not to focus on what everyone else thinks is important. Whatever you are will come naturally. Focus on fulfilling yourself instead of improving yourself, because only then will relevant change occur.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Life Is So Much More Than Ourselves

The lives we live are really so much bigger than just ourselves.

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I hope people hear this loud and clear when I say that this generation of people and quite frankly our society as a whole has become one of the most selfish to date. I really hope people reading this don't take it as me calling people out, "throwing shade" or bashing humanity, I'm just trying to put out a call to action but in a more blunt way.

This generation subconsciously lives by the "me, my, mine" lifestyle. Everything is all about us, and what we want and immediate satisfaction or gratification from the things that we do in life. We always want someone to notice what we are doing, that we did it and we want to be acknowledged for it. Our wants and desires power so much of what we do and how we react to what others do and so on and so forth. Also, kind of piggybacking on that, we tend to believe or live by the idea that, "yeah it happens, but it's never gonna happen to me" which can be a major issue when it comes to decision making. This is because we don't think about how it affects anyone but ourselves, usually in the immediate sense rather than the long term.

With that being said it can become an issue when we choose to ignore the other things going on around us like, "oh, someone else will get it." and then things like the trash epidemic and the state at which our planet and country is in now. We have become so self-absorbed that it's to hell with everything else. The places that we call home and the world that we know is falling apart and we are all just gonna sit by and watch like nothing is happening.

I am tired of the mentality that we as a society live in, and how we try to desperately to look great on social media but do nothing about it in real life. It is time that things change and we are the ones changing it.

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