Welcome to Becoming Better!
The purpose of this blog is to help you become better: better at learning, better at creativity, better at work, better at happiness, better at health, and, in general, better at life. There are many reasons to work on becoming better, and there are many ways to do so, but before we talk about all that, there’s something really important I need you to hear:
You’re already good enough.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that you’re good enough to win Olympic gold, or that you definitely deserve a promotion at work, or that you’re attractive enough to marry the partner of your dreams. You’re not entitled to any of those things.
What I mean is that your sense of self-worth doesn’t have to be contingent on whether or not you achieve particular outcomes. Right now, you’re already good enough to care about yourself, and you’re already good enough to be cared about by other people. You’re good enough to help yourself, and you’re good enough to help others.
You might be thinking, Well, if I’m already good enough, why do I need to work on becoming better?
But you can if you want to. Most people have at least one area of their lives they’d like to improve: a habit they’d like to change, a skill they’d like to develop, an emotion they’d like to feel more (or less) often.
Becoming better is a lifelong quest. There is no end of the road. There is no mountaintop to reach (though I do recommend climbing mountains; it’s awesome). That’s why this is blog called “Becoming Better,” not “Become Better.” There isn’t some end point where you get to say, “Well, that’s it. Now I’m better, and I’m set for life.”
That’s also why it is so important to accept yourself for who you are right now. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you can simultaneously like who you are and work to become better. We don’t work on self-improvement because we hate ourselves; we work on self-improvement because we love ourselves.
So your new motto can be: “I’m good enough and becoming better.”
You can celebrate the good in you as you work to remedy the not-so-good. You can use your strengths to address your weaknesses. You can be happy with who you are and work hard to change your life for the better.
A wise friend once told me, “Chris, you don’t have to wait until you’re perfect to love yourself.”
Considering that perfect doesn’t even exist, that was pretty good advice.
Advice, however, is tricky. It often feels like judgment. Why are you telling me how to become better?! I’m just fine, thank you very much! And who are you to judge anyway?!
Relax. I’m not any better than you. And I’m in no position to judge. I just want to share some ideas that have been really helpful to me with the hope that they’ll be helpful to you too.
Maybe imagine yourself as a lion who has a thorn in his paw. I’m just a helpful mouse who has come along to pull it out for you. Or better yet, think of me as another lion – an equal – who teaches you how to use your claws like a pair of tweezers, so you can get the thorn out yourself. Yeah, that’s better.
They say all advice is autobiographical, so I guess I should embrace that and share a bit of my own story.
Everything that I know about becoming better I learned because I needed to. I used to be – for lack of a better word – worse.
I was a ski bum, living in the mountains, which is both as fun and as unproductive as it sounds. Although I don’t regret the time I spent or the fun I had, through my unbalanced, high-risk lifestyle, I accumulated eight injuries. I neglected my physical therapy homework and was therefore not healing. I was in pain, all day, every day.
I had minimal career prospects, and no plans to improve that situation. My work ethic was, let’s say, “underdeveloped.” Procrastination was my way of life. I didn’t know how to focus. I was debilitated by perfectionism. And my innate strengths were atrophying.
And I was depressed. I was angry. I didn’t know how to manage my emotions. My thinking was riddled with distortions. I drank and got high to numb my dissatisfaction. I was an addict. I hated myself.
And then I resolved to improve myself, and I resolved to love myself. Despite the deep shame I felt, I reached out to friends and family, and I was blessed by their support.
And still, it was hard. And still, I failed. I failed over and over again at quitting my bad habits, getting my act together, starting healthy habits, and getting some control over my mind.
But I found ways to make it easier. Other people had been through similar situations, had overcome greater obstacles, had faced tougher demons. Their stories, their wisdom, and their methods were invaluable. I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Science, too, offered help. I became a student of the mind. I became obsessed with neuroscience, mindsets, and technique because, as James Clear says, “Becoming better is not simply a matter of willpower or work ethic. It’s also a matter of strategy.”1
I’m a lot better than I used to be. I’ve been clean and sober for over two years. I meditate every day, my injuries are healing, and I’m no longer depressed. My career is moving in the right direction, I rarely procrastinate, and I’m working harder than I ever thought possible. And I have not only addressed my core weaknesses; I have also cultivated my signature strengths.
And I’m still far from perfect. I still struggle. But I’m okay with it. I’ve learned to accept and love myself as I am today, even as I work to improve myself. I’ve learned to be patient with the process of becoming better.
“Masterpieces take time.” –Tony Robbins2
Brian Johnson likes to say that you can make your life a masterpiece by focusing on having masterpiece days. This means that becoming better in big ways depends on becoming better in small ways, and becoming better in the long run depends on becoming better in the short run. Diligence and persistence are required.
If you’re looking for a quick-fix, a magic pill, or “the secret” to self-improvement, you won’t find it here. And you won’t find it anywhere else for that matter. No such thing exists.
But you can radically transform your life if you’re willing to earn it. And there are many ways to make the process of becoming better easier and more efficient. That is what this blog is about.
Anyone, anywhere, anytime can choose to become better. Why not start today? It doesn’t matter how far you’ve walked down the wrong path. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s not too late.
I’m excited to share what I’ve learned and what I’m still learning about becoming better. For now, I’ll leave you with this:
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late …. to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
-Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay
1 Clear, James. “How to Use Military Strategy to Build Better Habits.” http://jamesclear.com/sun-tzu-habits.
2 Robbins, Anthony. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! Free Press, 1992. Pg. 28.
Title Image: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/away-path-forest-hiking-nature-1356948/. Text added.
Welcome Sign: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/dock-feet-footwear-jetty-mat-1846008/.
Lions: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/lion-lion-cub-cat-big-cat-animal-1544990/.
Helping Hand: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/adventure-height-level-arm-1807524/.