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When Self-Improvement Turns Into Misery

According to this article, many of us are so focused on self-improvement that we’ve made ourselves miserable.

How to be enough – Our obsession with self-improvement is making us miserable.

I think this makes sense.

A consequence of the cultural obsession with self-improvement is the hyperfixation on the self. From elaborate skin care regimens to the culling of “toxic” friends from your social circle, some will go through extreme lengths in the name of self-preservation and betterment. However, we’ve collectively overcorrected when it comes to the impulse to self-correct. When there’s always a new ideal to strive toward, a new workout to try, a new home renovation project, a new way to hack bodily functions, it can be hard to feel adequate, sufficient, enough.

I have been one of those people who never felt like I was enough, and I think this idea from that same article is why:

Another mindset shift involves moving away from feeling like we are at a deficit, Mastroianni says. If we perceive our starting point to be below baseline, we’ll never climb out of that hole.

I think this is the real problem. Improving yourself and having goals aren’t bad things. Striving to grow as a person is excellent. Striving because you constantly feel inadequate is a recipe for disaster. There will always be something better. There’s someone smarter, with a nicer house, a better car, more kids, more athletic, and better looking if we look hard enough for them.

The trick is to realize that none of that makes us less than. As humans, we all have different skills, abilities, advantages, and disadvantages. Not one of them diminishes our value as human beings. We all have that value, and when we seek to improve ourselves to help others, that is wonderful.

Seeking to improve ourselves to catch up on some deficiencies that we believe we have will be a neverending proposition. It will lead to misery because it starts with feeling inferior.

You’re not. Now, go better yourself because you want to be better. Not because you have to catch up.

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