photo by Jill
People seek self-help for a reason, to help themselves, duh. But like all good things, self improvement has it’s disadvantages. Some people take it too far. Instead of improving their lives, they become delusional.
1. Tony the Tiger… err Robbins
Before I got into personal development, I always thought of people like Tony the Tiger.. I mean Tony Robbins and Richard Simmons as the epitome of self improvement. I guess like many people, I confused self improvement with motivational speakers.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Tony Robbins, I think he’s a great guy and I’m sure he’s helped a lot of people out. But it’s just not my style.
The whole chest pounding, firewalking thing always threw me off. I understand the idea is to get pumped up, but can’t you do that without burning your feet to a crisp? Also, is that really sustainable? If I have to walk on hot coals everyday just to find motivation, something is probably wrong with my life.
These are also the people that remain positive under any circumstances.
Volcano eruption? The heat will help you sweat and detoxify.
Hurricane? Now I don’t have to wash my car.
Earthquake caused a gaping hole in the middle of your house? We could make a swimming pool!
2. Productivity is the opiate of the masses.
There are certain things you must do. This includes things you need to do to not die and stay out of prison.
Some people just have a problem with these things and turn to productivity gurus for help. But it can often be taken overboard. When you can’t enjoy yourself without doing something productive, you have a problem.
3. Self Improvement is your drug of choice
There’s nothing wrong with ferociously pursuing personal development and new contexts. The problem is when “improving” has become more of a drug than means to an end.
Some signs of this deadly illness may include:
- Lack of friends, social life, or connection to the outside world
- Improving has become more important than living
- Spending half your day reading lists such as “4,000 motivation hacks” and “12 ways to super power ultra charge your brain” but can’t recite a single sentence from any of them.
4. Hacking your life is more important than living it
Some of your favorite conversations include: a new method for color coding your to do list (purple is uber urgent, black is ninja important!), how you turned your watch into a fork slash writing utensil slash stapler, and how to turn your dishwasher into a plasma tv.
You also think that hacking your life includes using cashew butter instead of peanut butter on a jelly sandwich, using a clothes iron to make grilled cheese, and hacking your sweatshirt.
Although I do have to admit, if I could pull off the sweatshirt hack without looking extremely flamboyant, I might give it a go.
5. Um, it’s your turn. Move.
Imagine you aspire to be grandmaster chess player. You study the game, your read books, you watch other masters play. You’re so engrossed with learning and improving your game, you never actually play. You’re just stuck on “what’s next.”
When you’re so gung-ho on improving, it can be easy to lose sight of the reason for it in the first place: to make life better. But if you’re just preparing to live and not actually living, what’s the point?
Some honorable mentions were…
Not being able to feel good about yourself without listening to a tape of “Because I’m special and I’m worth it” and the guy that thinks Lao Tzu was a Zen master.