Self-Improvement is a Gift
Turns out that there is much wisdom in engaging in self-improvement. Now, before you leap off the cliff of “focusing on myself too much means I’m selfish,” realize that improving yourself and how you function in life is not only the best and wisest gift you could give to yourself, but it is quite possibly the most valuable gift you could give to those whom you love and to the larger world around you. Why? Well, for one, poorly functioning people cost billions of dollars a year in lost work; loss of life and property; loss of health, relationships, and family stability, etc. And two, individual suffering evokes suffering in those around you: suffering can be contagious. Such effects are staggering if you consider the chain of events that can occur from even one poorly functioning parent or manager, for example.
The elephants have it right, after all. Not only are they the symbol of wisdom, but they model the winning strategy of persistence and group cohesion rather than speed and individualism. Elephants will remain with an injured or sick member of their herd and mothers will remain with her dead calf for a period of grieving – this finding from both scientific research and anecdotal observations of various herds.
In this series of posts, we will be looking in more detail at the Core 7 skills that we believe builds a solid foundation for healthy, life-long mental fitness. By developing skills across these seven core areas, you will be positioning yourself to avoid so many common pitfalls in functioning that lead to broken relationships, a pervasive sense of failure and defeat, poor productivity and career achievement, mental health disorders, conflictual family relationships, dissatisfying social relationships and poor life adjustment. In today’s post, we are looking at Core Skill #1: Self-Improvement.
Core Skill #1: Self-Improvement
Self-improvement can mean different things to different people, but the Mental Fitness Institute defines self-improvement as:
Any self-selected activity that has as its primary function to recognize and accept deficiencies in self-functioning and to purposefully attempt to improve the deficiencies to increase capacity, functioning or quality of relationships with the self and others.
What this means is that self-improvement is not defined by a specific activity, but by the actual goal of the activity. Genuine self-improvement is about recognizing that you have a need – an area of weakness that is causing unwanted, negative consequences – and then purposefully looking for ways of improving the self to eliminate the negative consequences and improve overall functioning. For example, taking a seminar designed to improve self-esteem (i.e., relationship to the self) would definitely be a focus of Core Skill #1.
As one of the core skills of mental fitness, having a constant openness to self-improvement is crucial and ultimately predictive of life achievement and success. This is because recognizing that we are all a “work in progress” eliminates the tendency toward conceit, self-inflation or looking down our noses at others who are struggling. We all struggle in one way or another. We are all imperfect and there is no exception to this rule! For those who think they are the exception, these folks need the skills even more than the next person because they are genuinely self-deceived. Humility is a sign of personal greatness, while conceit is the companion of a tyrant.
Pursuing self-improvement indicates that you have at least some insight into your strengths and weaknesses. Without some measure of objectivity, we are merely destined to shrink further and further into our own imagined world. The Mental Fitness Institute offers a range of classes designed to help you explore your inner world for glitches and to pull you back up into the light. Explore our current Self-Improvement titles and start your journey toward mental fitness today!