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Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Featured Posts, Personal Development | 12 comments

Change Your Life … But Why?

Change Your Life … But Why?

A question that often came to my mind before digging up more about Self Improvement was: “Why should I be constantly looking to improve my life?”. You know, Internet is full of Self Improvement blogs; and Personal Growth books are among the top selling ones. There are so many so-called Self Help gurus that it seems that wherever you look; someone is telling you to change your life.

It can get overwhelming at some point, right? And the worst part is, most people will tell you how to make your life better, but will never explain to you why you should do it.

You Have Nothing Broken; Why Would You Improve Your Life?

There’s a common belief that Self Improvement is only made for unhappy people, for those who need some kind of external help to improve their life after a breakup or having been laid off from their job. It seems that we should only improve ourselves if something is wrong with us.

But here is the wrong part: you don’t need to have something “broken” nor be in a critical situation or state of mind to take the Personal Development road. This road is for everyone. There is something to learn for everybody here, even if you think you are already good enough.

It’s Not a Sign of Weakness

“I’m strong enough to face my own problems, I don’t need someone else’s help” is something I often heard related to Self Improvement. Before starting this blog; I read a lot of books about Happiness and Personal Growth (and still do, by the way). When I would tell people such a thing; some of them would roll their eyes, breathe heavily and ask me “But, why do you need to do this?”. For many people, trying to improve your life is a sign of weakness. It’s a way of admitting that there is a problem.

In our society, we are taught since childhood to show the image of a strong and powerful person. Vulnerability and/or failure are not allowed and we should never let our feelings show. In such an environment; accepting and making clear that you are trying to improve yourself is seen as a negative thing.

But let me tell you. It’s nothing negative. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. You are showing your energy and your confidence in your own ability to change. Remember: you are your worst enemy, and as such, changing yourself and improving some aspects of your life are some of the hardest things ever. You are actually having a fight against yourself. No excuses allowed, all the responsibilities are on you. The easier part would be to sit back and relax in your own comfort zone; while the brave part is to actually take action, change and go beyond your limits (and create new ones).

Some people spend their entire life in their comfort zone. Although it might sound exaggerated, I would say they more or less die the same person they were born. Do you want to be that person? Don’t you want to change, be a better YOU, and when it’s time to look back, say “boy, that was awesome, I’m so proud of what I did”? Well, I do, and that is why I have been almost all my life striving to improve myself.

Happiness and Self Improvement can go together

So, now you are thinking “Nicolas is probably an unhappy person; only unhappy and sad people have interest in Self Improvement; right?”. Well I’m sorry to admit it … but I am a happy person.

Most people consider that if you are happy, you are not supposed to try to change things. As said above, that would be like admitting that you are not as happy as you pretend. Well it makes sense, right? If you are already a happy person, why would you change a thing? Why would you put yourself in danger? (because improving your life really comes down to facing your fears, uncertainties and bad habits and challenging yourself to change those).

Except you should not see this as a danger; but as an opportunity. An opportunity to be better. A better dad, a better colleague, a better YOU… You can be the happiest person on earth, but who said that you couldn’t be even happier? Usain Bolt is the fastest person on earth, he is pretty happy about it (he declared himself as a living legend); and yet he goes and trains every day to run even faster.

Whether you are happy or not should definitely not prevent you from having a look at the Personal Development world. As I said above, we all have something to learn.

Know Yourself

People interested in Self Improvement usually have something in common : they know themselves way better than the average person. For average people, the norm is the lack of self-knowledge, either because they don’t want to know more, or because their subconscious is hiding their imperfections under some effective self talk. I truly think that some people actually believe they’re perfect. Sorry guys, you couldn’t be more wrong. We all have some flaws. Fear of the future, nostalgia of the past, compulsive jealousy, lack of confidence … Just name it. Nobody’s perfect. Steve Jobs was eccentric and overconfident. Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein suffered Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

But who am I to tell you this? Well, about ten years ago, in a Secret Santa I got offered a book by Julia Cameron, named The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. It was my first Self Help book ever. Before that, I barely knew it existed. And yet it made me realise how imperfect I was – not that I thought I was perfect, quite the opposite actually, but I was not aware of all those things I could improve, and I didn’t know that they could be changed. Ten years later, I got to read The Power Of Now, and I found out that my own self talk was pretty destructive and that I needed to act upon it.

It only takes one person to change your life: you

It only takes one person to change your life : you

For most of us, entering the world of Personal Development will help us uncover many problems in our behaviour and our mental state that we consciously or unconsciously always ignored until now. Many people will never admit their own flaws based on the misconceived idea that they can’t change anything about it … but when they get to read Self Help related content, they realize that nothing is impossible, and that they can change themselves if they really want to.

Now it’s Your Turn – Ask Yourself The Right Questions

The bottom line here is that anybody can benefit from some Personal Growth teaching. You don’t need to be more spiritual than the average, nor more aware of your own shortcomings. Nor do you need to be unhappy. Yes, even YOU, behind YOUR screen, you could learn something.

So, soften up your own beliefs, lower the volume of the little voice in your head and ask yourself the following questions (no lies allowed, you are talking to yourself here, so this is very important):

  • Am I completely happy with my life? Even on a Tuesday at 9am when I go to work?
  • Do I get often angry? Jealous? Stressed?
  • If I could change something in my life just snapping my fingers, what would that be?
  • If I could change a character trait of mine just snapping my fingers; what would that be?
  • Am I the person I’ve always wanted to be?
  • Do I consider myself a fairly positive person?

The bad news is that you are now aware of the flaws in your life, the good news is that there are many resources available to start the necessary changes in your life. My blog is one of them, but as I said, there are many others.

Let me know in the comment section what made YOU decide you wanted to improve your life and which aspect YOU decided to improve. If you disagree with my ideas, please say so, and I’ll be happy to exchange my views with you on this subject.

Nicolas.

PS : whether this is completely new to you or you have already been into Personal Growth for quite some time, you should definitely check The Lifestyle Facts blog. The author there does a great job of giving you tips on how to improve concrete aspects of your life, be it health, mindfulness or positive thinking. A must-read. Plus a very surprising and attractive design.

Photo are courtesy of Morten Saxild and Live Life Happy

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12 Comments

  1. Self improvement is art. Everyone in this world have their personalities and bodies sculpted by some external factors and in time they learn to let go because they think there’s nothing they can do about it. This is where those few come in, who are not being sculpted but are the sculptors themselves, knowing what they want and doing it with love, passion and control. I like your post very much and keep up the nice work.

    • Thanks for the thumbs up!
      I now feel like a sculptor.. I had never seen Self Improvement as an art, but you are right!
      Nicolas.

  2. To me, the question is not “why should I try to improve myself?”. Without reading all those books and blogs, I’ve been doing this for about 4 years now with a little help from professionals. What I really would like to know is what is YOUR motivation to share all this. I have known you for a while so I won’t assume anything negative here. But I see so many people who have gotten rich doing forex trading or buying houses and yet sell you courses and seminars and books about how to get rich like them, as if they actually got rich by teaching others how to be. The same is true for self improvement. A lot of “gurus” seem to spend a lot of energy teaching others how to self improve and I always wonder this: changing yourself, finding a new discipline, improving your habits requires such an enormous amount of energy that sharing this with others seems like a huge waste of energy. So why do they do it? Does it somehow participate in their own self-improvement? Are they solely guided by a feeling of reciprocity (others have tought me this, it is now my mission to teach it to others)? If so, it looks a lot like an emotional Ponzi scheme of sorts.

    In other words, why are YOU doing this blog?

    • Hi Sebastien!

      Thanks for your comment. Before making my blog “public”, I wanted to rewrite my about page and give better explanations on why I was sharing my thoughts on this blog… I decided to do it later, because I was kind of eager to see how people that know me would see this initiative. Maybe that was a mistake. Anyway, soon I’ll update my about page. And I’ll also do a FAQ page to explain why I created this blog, why I wrote it in english, why I sometimes say corny things…

      Let me answer your question.

      I have been interested in Self Help, reading books and trying to change some aspects of my life for more than 10 years now (although it was only a year ago that I dove into the related blogs). I learned many things on myself, I learned that nothing is impossible, that everybody can change. The more I read, the more I changed. The more I changed, the more I wanted to share this with everybody. Why? Because I was lucky enough to find some inner strength to change, but I got to understand that most people are not that lucky. How many times have I heard “That’s the way I am, I can’t change” or “It’s impossible” or “I’m [put a defect], what can I do about it?”. I came to realize that I was a very jealous person, and I started changing this behavior by identifying the triggers of my jealousy. I used to have very compulsive talks with myself, and now I understand most of this talk is destructive, so I try to limit it or to refocus on my breathe. These are examples. The aim has always been for me to feel better about myself, and be able to love myself and love others.

      If I look around me, in the streets, in the newspaper, in the metro, at work, I see so many people that seem to struggle with their life, their mind and their ego. They don’t know how to focus on the present moment (i.e. stop thinking about the past and stop anticipating the future), and they are not happy. They work a job they loathe, and expect happiness to land in their lives the day they retire. They blame other people for their own problems, and think the world is against us (“I have never been lucky”). And if they say they love their job,

      These people might need someone giving them advice. I want to be that person. I am already that person to some of my friends or some people on Reddit.

      My mission with this blog is to help people change their life, and make every instant of their life count. I want to help them live THEIR life, as opposed to let their life live them. And if I can, I’d love to inspire someone.

      I guess that some “gurus” do this because it participates in their own self-improvement. Others are guided by reciprocity. Some do it because they know that there is money to be made. I won’t lie to you, maybe at some point I will try to turn this into a business – if I feel I can truly help people and that I got some special skill for this. But the final result is the same : helping people make some changes. Whether some guru makes some money or not is not important. Whether another guru does this to boost his ego is not important either. Whether it helps them in their self-improvement process is not important either. What matters is the result: if the advice, tips, strategies, techniques, mindsets described are genuinely helpful, well then I think it’s worth it.

      I don’t pretend to have the best advice in the world or to be the happiest or best person in the world. Far from it. I still have a lot to learn about this, and every new blog or book teaches me something. What I do pretend though is to provide my audience with genuine advice that I’ve used myself and/or that I would give to the people I love most. In my Encouraging Quotes series, I don’t have to make up some ‘Sales’ talk to add some value to the quotes. I just use the same ‘pep talk’ or ‘motivation talk’ I would use with anybody around me. I am willing to help anybody that comes to my blog and give them something of value. This is a space of exchange and improvement, as opposed to a book where the communication is only one way.

      Hope this answered to your question. Please let me know, I’ve spent a fair amount of time crafting this answer to your comment – maybe I’ll use part of this as my new about page.

      Cheers!
      Nicolas.

  3. The main thing I take back from your answer (because it struck me the most) is that you think that reasons don’t matter, that only results are important. And I beg to differ. I think that self improvement is a highly spiritual journey and sharing a vision about why you do the things you do is paramount. A doctor who wants to make money will only cure the symptoms, knowing that the real problems crawl underneath the surface. Someone who really wants to make you happy will help you dig up the dark stuff inside you and deal with it in a more permanent though much less profitable way. It doesn’t mean you can’t make a living out of helping others, it does mean that if it’s your primary goal, a lot of people will have a hard time trusting you and your advice and you might lose yourself in the process. If you’ve chosen the wrong career path, no productivity tool will make you happy, if you keep some childhood issues berried, all the diets in the world won’t make you fit. At least that’s what I think, and that’s why I’m extremely distrustful when it comes to the blogs you’re referring to. Because I see a lot of them dealing a lot with the easy symptoms, not with the hard diseases behind them.

    • Reasons do matter obviously and as I said, my mission is to help people deal with their own problems, provide them some good advice out of my experience and my readings, and why not motivate them and inspire them. I’m definitely not a shrink and I’m obviously not done on my spiritual journey, but the little I know already puts me in a position where i can share my “knowledge”… and get some more, and share it again…
      Somehow this blog is part of my spiritual journey. Telling people how they can change forces me to look back and see how I changed and what things are still problematic. Before giving any tip or advice, I actually tried them and now use them daily (for example the habit of gratitude).

      I guess you didn’t like that I mentioned that I could eventually try to make a living out of this and I understand. I just wanted to be totally honest : as I say, what I think (or hope) makes my blog special is my genuine voice. So I do NOT want to say something and think the opposite. But again, if it was not clear, let me make it clear : my goal is to share my knowledge, experience and readings, what worked and didn’t work for me, motivate people (with my Encouraging Quotes series, which rather than just giving some nice and shiny quotes actually adds a bit of a ‘pep talk’ to them) and inspire them. I have and will NEVER EVER put something else first – simply because I wouldn’t be able to look myself at the mirror nor could I sleep correctly.

      And to finish, you were talking about the easy symptoms against the hard diseases. I don’t know if my talk actually goes as high as helping people to deal with their deeper problems. But sometimes there are things you can’t deal with, you just have to accep them. Be it childhood issues, anger problems or wrong life choices, I try to find workarounds : when I tell people to focus on Now and forget about the past and the future, it’s a way of saying “forget about your childhood issues” or “stop blaming yourself for the bad life choice you made, learn from it and be happy in the NOW”. Easier done than said? I know. But my blog is not an end point, the same way I would never expect one book to have the answer to everything.

      Hope this answer finds you well! :) And don’t worry, I’m not a future scam guy or ‘guru’ only interested by money or whatever. I’m just being myself, and as I love talking with others about their feelings, trying to understand their behavior and giving them advice or a different other point of view, I decided to start this blog. I have been wanting to do this for at least a year, but never found it useful until a few months ago…

      Cheers.
      Nicolas

  4. I know you, I know you mean well and I certainly don’t doubt your sincere and benevolent motivations. My goal was just to widen your perspective and make it publically clear that if your advice doesn’t work for some of your readers, maybe the speech that consists in saying “you should get productive and if you don’t manage to be, then you lack willpower and tools” is not the right answer. Sometimes problems, more often than not, problems lie deeper and that’s where professional therapists can help. They are not just for crazy people like a lot of people think.

    • I never answered to this, but just to let you know I totally agree that professional therapists can help! I’m sometimes thinking of going to see one myself :)

  5. Oh, and by the way, I wish you all the best in this new venture of yours. You’re an explorer, and explorers will save the world.

    • Wow it really seems I missed that commentary :) Thanks Sebastien, I really appreciate your support, especially with such words!

  6. Why change your life? Isn’t it obvious? Sometimes we just bumble through life, totally unaware of the structure around us, focusing on one thing so completely that we loose sight of what’s really in front of us! For instance, what are YOU thinking about right now? Is it money? Is it sex? Is it power? Is it the screen you’re staring at? Or is it YOU? Oftentimes even the areas we seek to improve ourselves in are masked in a curtain of lies and deception so thick that we can’t even see it ourselves. My personal curtain was my inability to truly listen to myself. I was so focused on pleasing others that I lost sight of what was truly me. I perceived a world of lies and deception and displaced it onto the technology that surrounds us (and Steve Gob!). What I did not perceive was the true love that surrounds my being; by focusing on others so much I suppressed the core being of who I really am. I am a magician! I am the postmodern Méliès! Truly, I am an artist. I predict that the future holds a grand world where technology does not fracture us, but brings us all together so that we may focus on each other in order for our depth of field to increase in range no less than tenfold! Look for New Orleans in the background of your favorite dreams very soon…

    • Hi Ethan, thanks for your comment!! What is going to happen in New Orleans?

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