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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10 Bible Verses for Self Esteem

Sometimes you need to search for inner strength and find your own self worth.
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We all get those days that we just don't feel good enough for anything. Everything is going wrong. For me, I go to the bible to read the words of God. His personal dialog for us is filled with encouragement, hope, and lessons we can learn from. Here are my top ten verses that are uplifting and impacting when at the lowest of lows:

1. Philippians 4:13:

I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.

2. Psalm 46:5

God is within her, she will not fall.

3. Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

4. Psalm 28:76

The Lord is my strength and my shield.

5. 1 Corinthians 25:10

By the grace of God, I am what I am.

6. Romans 5:8

I loved you at your darkest.

7. Psalm 62:5-6

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on Him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure.

8. 2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

9. 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

10. 2 Chronicles 20:15

The battle is not ours, but God's.

Cover Image Credit: chinadaily

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Self-Reflection Is Always Beneficial

Always ask yourself how you can improve your life.

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Self reflection is an important part of growing up. It is important to sit back and think about who you are and who you strive to be. I think that dwelling on the past too much can be extremely harmful, but that a little bit of reflecting on your past can be great.

Think about it, every choice you have made in your life so far has led to where you are now. Every single choice, no matter how small it may have seemed, has had a major impact on your entire life. The choices we make definitely change the path that we take.

Most likely, every friend you made changed your outlook something. Every place you went to will remain in your memories. Maybe you experienced something because of certain choices that led you to learn a valuable lesson.

Maybe those dreadful things of your past needed to happen to allow you to grow. No one deserves to hurt, but sometimes hurting then healing can be replenishing.

I think we should value our lives because they are so unique. No one on this earth will have had the same experiences you have. Even if someone was following you around 27/4 or was literally joined at the hip with you, they would not have the same life as you, because their thoughts would be different from yours and their perspective would be different as well.

You will never get the same day twice, so it is important to make every day the best you can make it. Try to laugh in stressful situations. Try to breathe when there seems to be no air left for you. It is vital to keep moving forward. If you look back, you'll trip on everything in front of you. Do not look into your past and examine your mistakes negatively. We grow from mistakes. We live and we learn. Use those mistakes as a study guide to become a better you. Use your past to your advantage and try to give yourself a better future.

It is important to know that life is a roller-coaster with twist and turns, peaks, and sudden drops that will make you feel sick to your stomach and scared for what's waiting at the bottom. But if you fear life, you will never enjoy the fun parts.

Look back and examine yourself but don't write a novel about your mistakes. Move past them and live a better life. Spread love, be kind, and be grateful for what you have overcome. Those hurdles you went through have only made you stronger.

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