10 Counterintuitive Ways to Improve Your Life

photo by h.koppdelaney


There’s a lot of fluff floating around in the personal development blog-o-sphere. I think there are certain things that people tend to shy away from writing about when it comes to personal development. Here’s 10 of what I believe are the most uncommon things you’ll never learn from a personal development blog, but should.

1. There is is no personal development ceiling

There will never be a time in your personal growth where you can say “okay, I’m done.” You can’t grow so much that you will ever reach a ceiling. The beauty of personal development is that you’ll find whenever you grow, achieve goals or find more personal freedom, your context changes. The more you grow, the more your life will take on an upward spiral of personal growth. The more things get better, the more you realize what you thought was a 10 was really a 7.

A lot of people tend to think if you “fix” certain parts of your life, you’ll reach some kind of ever-lasting contentment. True growth, however, isn’t linear.

2. Re-framing just doesn’t always work

A lot of personal development blogs will give you advice on how to be more happy. They’ll also try to tell you how to re-frame negative situations and see the positive side of it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for every negative there is obviously a positive. It’s just the way the universe works. But sometimes negative situations just plain suck.

If I got hit by a car, I’m not going to be thinking about how I can re-frame this experience. I’m probably going to be more concerned with whether or not I’ll be able to walk again.

3. Acceptance is more important than happiness

Many people when pursuing personal development go on a happiness mono-diet. They want to be happy all the time and will do whatever it takes to make this happen. They have a realization that their life sucked because they were focusing only on the negative parts of their life. While this is a huge breakthrough for most people, many people don’t really “get it.” They go from one extreme to the other; instead of embracing both equally important sides of life (the good and the bad) and learning from them, they become Mary Poppins delusional.

Denying your negative feelings isn’t the path to greater happiness. Ignoring all the shitty parts of your life won’t make them go away.

As important as it is to appreciate the positive, we have to acknowledge and accept the negative. After all, if white wins over black, all we have left is empty space.

4. The outside is just as important as the inside

Ninety five percent of all personal development blogs will tell you in order to change your life, you need to change the inside. You need to change your beliefs and agreements that you have with yourself. Drop dis-empowering contexts and embrace empowering ones. Makes sense right? When learning this new-fangled concept people can get pretty crazy. They’ve been searching for happiness from the outside in and this seems to be pretty enlightening. They’ve been looking for fancy products, an exciting job, new cars, and Armani shades to make them happy.

They’ve realized that no matter how much of these things they acquire, their drug like bliss is fleeting at best. So we wisely start searching for happiness within. But internal happiness will not make you fall in love with a dead end job you hate, it will not make you “come to terms” with your abusive relationship and it will not put food on your table.

Just as we go from focusing on the negative to solely on the positive, we become extremists on the other side of the fence. In truth, there is no competition. Integrated and learning from the positive and negative are equally important.

5. Happiness creates productivity, not the other way around

Increased productivity is the result of increased happiness. Placing a complex productivity system on top of work you dread will be a short lived fix at best. We’re also often the most productive when what we’re doing has no purpose whatsoever.

6. Simply reading a bunch of productivity blogs will not improve your life

Reading seven thousand ways to hack your motivation and the ultimate guide to be a productivity samurai will not improve your life alone. Reading a list about 100 things to be happy about will not make you a happier person. Passively absorbing information will not revolutionize your life.

An inner coup against doing things that make you feel dead and liberating yourself requires hard work, introspection and action. While getting ideas and advice from other people can inspire you, what matters most is how you feel about your life and what you want. The only person that can figure that out is you.

7. Doing less of what you hate is as powerful as doing more of what you love

Sometimes quitting and dropping out of society and others expectations is just as powerful as doing more of what you love. In fact, I think you’ll find in order to really pursue your dreams, you’ll have to quit a lot of things and forget unwanted expectations; ones that other people would find normal and unnegotiable. They’ll probably find you absurd and completely insane.

Doing more of what you love will always involve quitting things that are really negotiable (but seem like they’re not) and dealing with some major critics. Don’t worry, your courage to live authentically just scares them. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire them to come to terms with the fact that they’re living in drudgery and denial too.

8. The “Golden Rule” is flawed

Everyone knows the golden rule, do to others what you would have done to you. While this obviously has good intentions, it doesn’t work in all situations. Particularly, in relationships. If you do to your partner what you would have done to you, you’ll probably annoy them, piss them off and leave them feeling neglected. Real meaningful relationships are built on trust and interdependency.

If you really care about someone, you’ll do everything you can to find out how they would like to be treated.

9. Your search for happiness, can often make you miserable

Searching for happiness will often mean that you have to face a lot negative aspects of your life you’d rather ignore. You’ll have to deal with all the negative experiences you’ve had in your past and try to find ways to learn from them. Moving forward sometimes means taking two steps back in order to take a step forward.

10. Addiction to self-improvement can ruin your life

You would think if you’re all gung-ho about self improvement, there’s no chance your enthusiasm can back-fire. Unfortunately, addiction to seemingly positive pursuits can be just as detrimental to negative ones. Addiction to self improvement can cause you to spend all your time trying to improve, but never actually living.

The goal of self improvement is to learn and grow, not to get sucked into a vacuum of obsession. There are many ways self improvement can ruin your life. We just need to keep in mind that self improvement is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

This list is obviously not exhaustive. What do you think people tend to shy away from talking about? Let’s start a discussion. =)

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Tim Brownson July 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I get what you’re doing here Jonathan and there is merit in much of what you say. However, I have some misgivings about a few points

1. I have never heard anybody say there is a ceiling on self development, in fact just the opposite.

2. The purpose of reframing is not necessarily to make a terrible situation seem good, but it may be to make a terrible situation seem slightly less bad. That goes for being hit by a car.

3. I agree if we’re talking about the present tense. If we’re talking about delving into a shitty past, then it’s gets a lot more complex.

4. All change comes from the inside, that is fundamental. It can’t come from anywhere else. It may be that something external has allowed you to shift your internal state, but the happiness still comes from the inside. What most people are saying (well me anyway!) is that if you control you internal state, you control your levels of happiness.

6. Of course it’s right that reading alone changes nothing, but a blog can get somebody to think differently and then act accordingly. And it is a bit ironical telling people that the only person that can figure it out is themselves. Isn’t that tantamount to saying they should stop reading your blog because you can’t help them? I think you can.

10. I have heard of this but in 4 years of coaching and 2 years of blogging I have never actually met anybody that was an addict. Does that mean they don’t exist? No of course not I’m sure they do, but I think they are a tiny minority.

I agree with the rest ;-)

I especially like your take on the golden rule because that takes into account that all people have different values. That’s worthy of an entire post on its own.

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Alaia Williams July 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Great suggestions Jonathan. I think you can find some of these ideas sprinkled around on the blog-o-sphere, but it is very uncommon indeed.

I agree that there is no ceiling on your personal development. When we stop trying to make ourselves into better, happier, healthier, people…well, then things just become a mess. I think we should try, in whatever ways work for us, to constantly work on making ourselves better. Taking care of ourselves, taking care of others, keeping our minds open, continually learning…

I definitely agree – people should quit things they hate, or don’t love (when appropriate. I mean, I hope people don’t “quit” their kids or something like that). And I advocate that people say “no” more often. The world won’t stop if we say no or if we don’t participate on the PTA next year.

I agree that just reading a personal development/self-help blog alone doesn’t do much. But it certainly doesn’t hurt. And who knows, some day that person who spends hours reading the blogs daily might finally come upon the article that inspires them to make a change. It makes the lightbulb come on in their head. They read the story of someone in a similar situation and realize that they too can make amazing changes in their lives. Eventually it all comes down to people taking control and taking actions, but the reading can be a jumping off place.

Oh, and I wholeheartedly agree that searching for happiness can make you miserable. I’ll just leave it at that!

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Dhane Diesil July 14, 2008 at 5:05 pm

5, 8, and 9 our my favorite..

So many times I see people looking for happiness or freedom outside of themselves, instead of looking within.

I would say being selfish is a good one to..

It’s so frustrating listening to someones problems that could have been easily avoided if they listened to their gut feelings and made themselves happy first, before they tried to make someone else.

Great tips!

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Dhane Diesil July 14, 2008 at 5:06 pm

*are..

Sorry!

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Shilpan | successsoul.com July 14, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Jonathan ~ I agree with you for the most part but I beg to differ on the outside v/s inside change. I have personally felt miserable despite making financial gains. Unless you find peace within, all the external stuff is boring and lifeless. That’s just my 2 cents. I like your ingenuity in thinking out side of the box.

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Desika Nadadur | I Am My Own Master July 14, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Jonathan,

Nice one! Under acceptance, I would add, “Just BE!” :-)

Gave this a stumble!

Thanks,
Desika

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Laurie July 14, 2008 at 5:32 pm

For myself, until I changed my mindset (internal) I made no changes at all. I tried some outside ways to find happiness and was about to get into trouble with that. After I was able to really look at myself, my desires and passions, then I knew WHY I hated my job etc. This gave me the courage to do something about it.

You said: “But internal happiness will not make you fall in love with a dead end job you hate, it will not make you “come to terms” with your abusive relationship and it will not put food on your table.”

Internal happiness won’t do those things but looking at your core will help you figure out what you’re about and give you direction to then start making the changes. The internal happiness will follow but you have to know who you are or figure it out. A lot of people don’t know what they are passionate about internally so they try to fill it with external things which, as you say, don’t last.

I find the blogs to be encouraging. I have tried to back down a bit because if it eats up all my time, then it doesn’t make sense to read them in the first place. I really like the dialog. It’s fun.

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Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map July 14, 2008 at 7:29 pm

You’ve brought up several points in your article.

What I like best is “Ignoring all the shitty parts of your life won’t make them go away.” This is so true. That is why I make an effort to be aware of my negative emotions closely so that I can address them.

Thanks for sharing your perspectives,
Evelyn

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paresh July 14, 2008 at 8:02 pm

nice article.

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Chelsea July 14, 2008 at 8:54 pm

I think your understanding of the Golden Rule is flawed. Sorry, I am not trying to sound harsh. But the way I see it, the Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”….as in, “treat others the way you WANT to be treated” which then leads to a more loving, caring version of the relationship scenario, assuming that the majority of people truly want to be treated with respect, love, and patience, etc.

Other than that, i do appreciate and enjoy reading your arguments. I even agree with most of them! :D

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Fernando July 14, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Jonathan,

I think on way similar to you, most of the 10 points were already on my mind, except 4, anyway I agree greatly with it, it is true that self-improvement starts with the inside, but if I’m in a situation of misunderstanding, no matter how much improvement I get from myself, at the end if I don’t get people in my job, school or even home to understand me, all my efforts will just go back guards.
So all it’s left is to try being understand or at least tolerated, if it doesn’t work, I’ll choose to quit that job or change friends in spite of looking for what is wrong with me, family matters are way more complicated, still that has a solution.
Point 7, I get it in a way were it’s better to leave aside things that doesn’t really help you reach your goals.
That’s all I’ve got to say for now, pretty good article.

Stumbled it!

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Bamboo Forest July 14, 2008 at 9:12 pm

I really like the angle you take with #3. And, I too, think that personal development sites are sometimes missing out on very important subject matters.

Acceptance can be a real virtue. And a sign of humility.

I strongly agree with #6. There is simply NO shortcut around working REALLY HARD. Strategy for living is not enough. One has to work at implementing that strategy, over and over and over again. It can take years to master. And only happens with hard work.

In #4 you write, “But internal happiness will not make you fall in love with a dead end job you hate, it will not make you “come to terms” with your abusive relationship and it will not put food on your table.”

Having too high of expectations can also decrease ones happiness. However, appreciating what we have will always enhance happiness. Obviously, someone should try to enhance their outside life as much as possible. But… The thing is… Whether the outside life begins to align with what a person wants or not, should not be a barrier to happiness. That’s the point.

Nice to see a unique view on personal development.

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Kat July 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm

@ Tim,

An addiction serves to numb emotions..

Anything can be an addiction ….

you’ve never met anyone who was an addict to self improvement … maybe you are that one. Or, maybe you are addicted to care-taking .. rescuing is certainly a disease, “an addiction”

I have it

Hope this helps

Kat

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David Pickett July 14, 2008 at 10:47 pm

“10 of what I believe are the most uncommon things you’ll never learn from a personal development blog, but should.” Yet, ironically, here we are…learning them from a personal development blog? :)

Point of consistency: “…for every negative there is obviously a positive. It’s just the way the universe works. But sometimes negative situations just plain suck.” You seem to be putting forth two opposites here. Which is it?

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Mark D July 14, 2008 at 11:31 pm

You struck a chord with me on the reframing of situations bit. I think that people are too eager to look for and delve deeper into the meaning of things. With regard to random things happening to you like falling out of a window or slipping in the shower, there’s really nothing you can say to yourself that’ll make you think that it was supposed to happen, except that you need to be more careful. If you were to meet your future wife in the ambulance on the ride to the hospital to get your body sewn back together, maybe then you could dive a bit deeper.

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Sara at On Simplicity July 14, 2008 at 11:43 pm

I really enjoyed this! I’m a big fan of “stop reading and start living.” We’ve got to get out there and make fabulous mistakes and fall on our faces before personal development will get us very far. Just reading is a great start, but nowhere near a finish.

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Sebastyne July 15, 2008 at 12:48 am

Thank you Tim Brownson for verbalising what I was thinking but could not have said it better. I think this post underestimated the average reader a bit… Although I’ve been told I tend to over estimate my readers.

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Andrew Scotchmer July 15, 2008 at 3:09 am

Wow good post and boy did it need to be said. Somethings I’ve read and heard about (even from professionals in this game) can actually do a person more harm than good in the long run.

Take your point of always being happy. Denying our negative, angry thoughts and feeling can adversely affect us psychologically. We all need to release at times and its healthy to do so.

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Angie Lay July 15, 2008 at 3:57 am

I agree wholeheartedly with #5 because I certainly know that when I am happy, I am MUCH more productive!

#6 really rings true! Sometimes people spend so much time searching for “that thing” that will help them that they just make things worse by adding one more thing to their list of problems… no time!

Great list you’ve compiled!

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Jarrod - Warrior Development July 15, 2008 at 5:33 am

Neat article.

I agree with most of the points, particularly that productivity is to a route to finding peace and happiness. Particular if all you replace the extra time with is more of the same.

The main one I have some issues with is #4 Inside vs Outside. I think the focus on internal aspect is warranted simply because it is the often neglected aspect in our lives. So it has to be acknowledged. But both areas give us information.

Personally I don’t advocate (atleast not explicitly that I know of) replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. I’m more of a, get outside of the thoughts all together kinda guy.

“But internal happiness will not make you fall in love with a dead end job you hate” – Ironically I recently wrote about going from hating one of my jobs to being happy working there by breaking out of my mind. See How to Not Hate your Job

I subscribed :)

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Mary@GoodlifeZen July 15, 2008 at 6:16 am

This is a very thought-provoking article.
There is one point where I agree with Tim Brownson: I do think re-framing is always useful. For example, if I’m hit by a car, I can think, “Maybe this is the greatest challenge and opportunity that life has to offer me.”

I do think it’s important to be realistic when you reframe. It’s a waste of energy to do a kind of mental aerobatics and come out with “It’s just great that I’ve broken both legs in a car accident and will most likely be in a wheelchair from now on.” 8-)

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Tim Brownson July 15, 2008 at 6:25 am

@ Kat – I understand that and did say that I’m sure it does exist. I was merely saying that it’s very rare in my professional opinion. There is a world of difference between somebody spending a bit more time than is healthy (whatever that means) reading self-development stuff and having an addiction.

OTOH, addiction to therapy is probably a lot more common.

I do take your point though. And no, I don’t have an addiction, but thanks for posing the question ;-)

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Anneke Walraven July 15, 2008 at 7:32 am

This is a great post! Really it is!

But (there is always a but), the point of re framing is not about changing bad things in good things, but trying to see difficulties as possible opportunities). And it is not about changing what has happened but what could be happening next.

So let’s say something is difficult to do or to imagine. The proper question would be: what can we do to make and /or imagine it less difficult? And what can we do or imagine to get more out of it? Etc.

Again, this is a great post, and I welcome this kind of thinking on all those popular ‘self help non sense around’.

But (there is this but again), sometimes re framing really works, and it’s always worth trying it!

Kind regards
Anneke Walraven
The Netherlands
nlp coaching

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XIII July 15, 2008 at 8:07 am

Entertaining post.

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Tracy Dempsey July 15, 2008 at 8:40 am

I don’t know if I’m just reading (and writing) different things from you, but a lot of these seems like redundant arguments to me:

1. There is is no personal development ceiling

…I’ve never heard of one! The clue’s in the name – personal ‘development’. Aren’t the most common quotes about development things like ‘life’s a journey’ or ‘life’s a school you never leave’?

“A lot of people tend to think if you “fix” certain parts of your life, you’ll reach some kind of ever-lasting contentment.”

Haven’t met many like that to be honest. And have certainly never seen that espoused by anyone in the personal development field – indeed, refuting this notion is actually the basis of most personal development work. The real idea is that if you want something, you create that in your life (whether it’s more of something or less of something, personal gain or for the greater good) and when you achieve whatever it was, then you’ve a new baseline to work from, or a new adventure to start.

2. Re-framing just doesn’t always work

“If I got hit by a car, I’m not going to be thinking about how I can re-frame this experience. I’m probably going to be more concerned with whether or not I’ll be able to walk again.”

..point is, if you aren’t able to walk again, your experience of that will be based on how you frame it. Some of the most inspirational stories we read/watch films about/study in school come from people who came through experiences none of us would wish upon anyone, but choose to focus on the positive – any positive – (without denying the negative).

3. Acceptance is more important than happiness

(Some would say acceptance IS happiness, but that aside:)

“Many people when pursuing personal development go on a happiness mono-diet.
Denying your negative feelings isn’t the path to greater happiness. Ignoring all the shitty parts of your life won’t make them go away.”

Again, I’m not sure what you’re reading! Personal development is about dealing with negatives when they come up, changing them if you can, re-framing them if you can’t, and even wallowing in it if that’s what’s right for you – to help you focus on what you’d like instead. (Plus, negative moods are the best moods to do detail-intensive work, as you’re more likely to find errors.)

The ‘problem’ with sticking with one outlook (as opposed to experiencing temporary feelings, which is healthy) is that if it’s automatic, you’re disempowering your own ability to react and improve matters. Personal development is about the realisation that you can choose your responses to people/things/events, whether positive or negative – you don’t ‘have’ to be negative or positive.

4. The outside is just as important as the inside

“Ninety five percent of all personal development blogs will tell you in order to change your life, you need to change the inside.”

..a rather neat percentage. ;)

“But internal happiness will not make you fall in love with a dead end job you hate, it will not make you “come to terms” with your abusive relationship and it will not put food on your table.”

Again, not sure what personal development authors would tell you to fall in love with a dead-end job you hate, or stay in an abusive relationship, or imagine that being happy will feed you. You can be broadly happy with your life and experience frustration in certain areas that you then choose to improve. But having a positive mindset that you can improve it, whilst using the negative emotions to make you figure out how, makes for easier change.

5. Happiness creates productivity, not the other way around

I argue that it’s a two-way thing. I’ve coached people who’ve had something hanging over them for ages that they didn’t want to do (but had to be done), and have helped them break it down into smaller steps, feel more motivated about it, and seen them become happier at a) having the thing done and dusted and b) being proud of themselves for getting it done.

Of course happiness can indeed create productivity – haven’t you ever heard ‘whistle while you work’? – but refuting the opposite and making the black and white statement “Happiness creates productivity” sounds to me like a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that surely does no service to ‘personal development’. The clue this time being in the ‘personal’…

“Placing a complex productivity system on top of work you dread will be a short lived fix at best.” Agreed, but again, who’s arguing? Personal development is about finding or developing strategies that work for you, not quick fixes.

6. Simply reading a bunch of productivity blogs will not improve your life

…er, yes, and..? Reading about going to the gym will not make you lose weight..? OF COURSE any improvement in your life is going to come from putting things into practice.

“While getting ideas and advice from other people can inspire you, what matters most is how you feel about your life and what you want. The only person that can figure that out is you.”

Again: personal development is all about empowering the individual to work out what they want and achieve it. It’s the whole basis of life coaching – bringing people to the realisation that they’re the expert in their life; they just need to own that.

7. Doing less of what you hate is as powerful as doing more of what you love

Well, yes! since there are only 24 hours in the day the two are linked. You can’t add on 10 hours a week of doing what you love without giving up 10 hours of something else, and it makes sense to give up something you hate. And why would you keep doing loads of something you hate anyway? Again, this is the basis of a lot of personal development strategies! Namely, ditch what you hate or find a way to not hate it (re-framing); you might start to enjoy it or at least get the energy to change it. What are you reading??

8. The “Golden Rule” is flawed

“Everyone knows the golden rule, do to others what you would have done to you. While this obviously has good intentions, it doesn’t work in all situations. ”

..this is why we have that other rule, ‘there’s an exception to every rule’. :)

And again, many personal development strategies/quotes/books are based on the notion that you can’t keep giving to others without giving to yourself – put the oxygen mask on yourself before others being the ubiquitous analogy.

Not sure what personal development techniques would advocate treating your partner in exactly the way you’d like to be treated, without asking them what they want – anything I’ve read/practice is about NOT assuming you can read other people’s minds and instead asking the right questions.

“The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” (George Bernard Shaw)

9. Your search for happiness, can often make you miserable

“Searching for happiness will often mean that you have to face a lot negative aspects of your life you’d rather ignore.”

…Talked about in the early chapters of most personal development books I’ve read, and, to be honest, accepted as common sense anyway!

“You’ll have to deal with all the negative experiences you’ve had in your past and try to find ways to learn from them.”

Hold on… are you saying I’ll ‘have to’ reframe..? Contradicting the earlier point? ;)

10. Addiction to self-improvement can ruin your life

“You would think if you’re all gung-ho about self improvement, there’s no chance your enthusiasm can back-fire. ”

I wouldn’t, actually! And I think you’d struggle to actually find someone who did.

“Unfortunately, addiction to seemingly positive pursuits can be just as detrimental to negative ones.”

…hence: “You can have too much of a good thing.”

“What do you think people tend to shy away from talking about? Let’s start a discussion. =)”

Interesting post.. mainly in that I’m interested to know what personal development stuff you’ve been reading! And how you missed the rest that include all the things you ‘never heard about’. :)

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Slade | Shift Your Spirits July 15, 2008 at 8:52 am

Jonathan,

If I was on a debate team, I feel pretty confident that I could take these points one by one and either refute them or support them, depending on the “side” I was told to argue for…

But, rather than write a long comment with a point-by-point argument, I commend you for writing a provocative list that prompts the reader to have that very internal dialogue… Regardless of whether the individual agrees or disagrees, the best thing about your article here is that it walks the reader through a thought-process, rather than just the obvious, passive absorption of opinion.

I personally am a rebel — I often find myself in the uncomfortable, potentially hypocritical position of working within the sphere of spiritual development and personal growth as an author, while simultaneously feeling like the most jaded consumer of these topics out there…

I feel “time-management” is one of the most counter-productive, paradoxical concepts on the planet; the starry-eyed, syrupy language of the Unicorn People in the New Age movement makes me want to gag at least half the time, if not more… I could go on, but my internal Reframing champion is already disappointed by how weakly the brainwashing must have stuck…

Thanks for introducing the Questioning — the process is way more profound than the answers.

Slade

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Cora July 15, 2008 at 9:35 am

“Happiness” is overrated. When I actively pursue it, I’m always self-monitoring; Am I there yet? Is this it?

I generally avoid “list” sites, but I like yours. While the word ‘happiness’ comes up a lot, like the other sites, it’s in a context here I can buy into.

I think happiness is more closely related to your No. 1 item, personal development (although “finite” might make more sense than “linear”). Acquiring new skills and knowledge and achieving goals is where I feel the sustained stimulation and joy that feels like true “happiness”. The other kind of happiness is too transient to be real.

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Craig July 15, 2008 at 9:41 am

100% correct!

I spent many years in the self improvement world, even to the point of becoming a certified hypnotherapist. Eventually, I came to realize each one of these points you’ve made here. Great advice in a sometimes overly positive world!

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Jonathan July 15, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Thanks for all your comments guys.

In response to some of the debate, my goal was to get people thinking, not to be an end all be all. If I really wanted to make a strong defense, I could have written an article for each of these points, but I didn’t really have room to do that here.

On a side note, this article hit the front page, my server crashed and the article got buried. Now I know to use super cache, instead of wp-cache. If you ever plan on hitting the front page of digg, I highly recommend using super cache.

Special thanks to Clay for helping me out with social media consulting and everyone who dugg my article. You’re quite simply, awesome.

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Alexander M Zoltai July 15, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Jonathan,

I feel one of the most “overlooked” things in self-improvement is the connection with a Power greater than ourselves…

~ Alex

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ConnieB July 16, 2008 at 8:08 am

>> Doing less of what you hate is as powerful as doing more of what you love

I completely agree with this!

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sarah July 16, 2008 at 11:14 pm

“The outside is just as important as the inside”

in poor countries, you’ll see a lot of really poor people spend on stuff to beautify their homes – and their reasoning? even if they’re poor coming home to a nice looking house makes it all better. For me it demonstrates how the outside is just as important as the inside. Beautifying their houses won’t make them rich or look richer, but it makes them feel good inside.

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anmari July 16, 2008 at 11:56 pm

“3. Acceptance is more important than happiness”… very true! For me acceptance is the start of everything. If you know how to accept bad things or good things in life, happiness will follow eventually.

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Laurie | Express Yourself to Success July 17, 2008 at 4:35 am

This is a great post, Jonathan – thank you. Your points are well done. I just want to add a comment to point #7: ‘No’ is an empowering word. I’ve finally been able to tell people ‘no’, politely and confidently, and my life is so much better. I have more time to do what I want and love and I spend less time grumbling about being obligated to do this or that for someone else. It took me a while to realize that I was making myself obligated to others; they weren’t forcing obligation on me. They just kept asking because I just kept saying ‘yes.’ What’s even better is that I can say ‘no’ and everyone understands.

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Irene | Light Beckons July 17, 2008 at 5:31 am

Hi Jonathan, I just discovered your blog … gosh where have I been in blogosphere?!? Anyway, I really like this article. It’s so candid and refreshing. “Addiction to self improvement can cause you to spend all your time trying to improve, but never actually living.” – BINGO! I’m going to spend more time going through your archives. Great stuff … subscribed and stumbled! :)

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Tim Brownson July 17, 2008 at 9:08 am

Jonathan, I’d love to get some cross blog conversation going if you’re up for it. You got me fired up (in a positive way) to respond and I’d love you to give me some grief back. We both know I deserve it ;-)

Cheers
Tim

Check it out here http://www.adaringadventure.com/blog/wordpress/life-coaching/the-gloves-are-off/

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Michelle July 17, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Jonathan, the profundity of this is overwhelming! Can’t wait to talk!

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Terry McDaniel July 29, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Number 8:…..It presupposes you love yourself…not from a selfish, egotistical way, but you see through yourself and you still enjoy the view…..Endurance and perseverance are powerful attributes. If you hitch up love, then you have horse power…keep up your blog… I enjoy the opportunity to interact. If you lived in Northern California, we could have several glasses of wine and drift deeper… Best of continued success….Terry McDaniel

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Tiffany Monhollon July 30, 2008 at 6:47 am

Point #4 is interesting. Right in line with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

So in light of that, it’s interesting that, as you mention, that so much of personal development seems to ignore those first few steps…

I believe attitude is a powerful thing, but it’s not powerful because it changes your mind about your reality; what it does is helps you use your mind to CHANGE reality. That’s true empowerment.

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Allan August 23, 2008 at 2:29 am

The Golden Rule revision here is, of course, a famous George Bernard Shaw quote.

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Padma October 25, 2008 at 2:22 am

You are most correct…I had a spiritual experience one time and learned the truth: Everything you need to know is inside of you.

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Puerhan October 26, 2008 at 7:12 am

The Golden Rule as presented here comes from a Judaic Christian background to my understanding – and seems to imply that we should be active in *doing* to others what we would like done to ourselves. As noted, this can easily lead to imposing our preferences on others and, if taken to the logical extreme, to evangalism / crusading / colonialism…

I have been told that there is an eastern equivalent that presents it the other way around – i.e. *Don’t do* to others what you don’t want others to do to you. Quite a different perspective!

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Sarah July 17, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I especially agreee with #10, as I know many people who are always doing something to improve their life. While this may be a good thing, it’s also harming them because half the time they’re trying too hard to change themselves, which makes them no fun, and the other half of the time they’re finding something in themselves to change!
Balance is key, I believe.
And I’ll definitely be recommending this to a bunch of my friends.

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PB coaching June 16, 2011 at 5:57 am

Great post. I believe that there is no limit to our personal development ceiling. Our objective as human beings is to continually grow. Nature has a great way of dealing with things that aren’t growing anymore!!!

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