One of my favorite podcasts is the Art of Charm. They had a recent session with Mark Manson, whom I hadn’t heard of before. He has two million monthly readers of his blog. With those numbers, he’s doing something right. This episode was an instant favorite of mine; it struck a chord with me. Sometimes, you hear something that is so deceptively simple, you wonder how you didn’t understand it before. It connects with you on a deep level. This was one of those instances. The biggest takeaway for me was their discussion of how focusing on self-improvement too much can be counterproductive.
Striving to improve ourselves and seek out a better future is natural. But happiness is an elusive concept—and one that is often sabotaged in the act of searching for it in the first place. “If you’re constantly having to read books that tell you how to be happy, you’re unconsciously reinforcing the idea you’re not already happy.”
It reminds me of another quote I wrote down months ago: “Spending too much time on self-improvement is antisocial.”
I believe it is important to note that the point is not to stop seeking to improve oneself; I think doing so is counter to what makes life interesting.
I would argue that we humans are most human when we’re improving ourselves. We, unlike any other animal, can consciously change ourselves, to improve ourselves in ways we choose. This distinguishes us from every other species alive today and, as far as we know, from every other species that has ever lived. Peak — Anders Ericsson
I do think, however, that we need to shoot for the golden mean in the pursuit of improvement.
Here’s the link to the podcast below if you want to listen: