Self-improvement = being selfish
First of all I’m relatively new here, I think it’s something you should know.
Maybe it’s not the perfect website to post my opinion but here I can find people who are not afraid to think critically and to question their own beliefs.
So don’t you think that self-improvement itself means being very, very selfish? I’ve just read Cormac McCarthy’s book ‘The Road’. It’s a post-apocalyptic story where people want nothing but desperately survive. And also in real life every creature’s goal on Earth is to survive, to cling to life as far as they can. In the ancient times for example, when laws changed from one country to another, tribes, nations attacked each other and if somebody’s villages had been attacked out of a sudden they had hardly any chance to survive. They either died or became slaves.
While we live in an era where we have nothing to worry about. Ok, we have bills to pay but it’s nothing compared to the cotinuous fear of being attacked.
I live in Hungary, an Eastern European country. Self-improvement is important here too, there are lots of articles like ‘How to become happy in 10 days’. But what I see is that in the US it became much more important. There are a lot of depressed people there while you(the majority on HE I think) live in a country with relatively good economy, good prospects for the future etc. (in general,there are exceptions of course). I think that in the media you hear way too much about the importance of finding yourself. There are many many books and movies in this topic mainly written by american writers. You always hear that you have to live a life and get a job in which you can be yourself and you find joy in it. (I’ve never been there so what I think is only based on what I experience on the internet, in movies and in books.) While here I’m always told to choose a job with which I can get enough salary to make a living (and my family has a quite good financial status so I’m not in the worst situation).
So I think that ‘finding yourself’ is a term that became too fashionable and overused and everybody takes it as somekind of truth and nobody asks whether it’s really that important or not. Noting happens if you don’t find yourself. People think about it so much that they become depressed if they can’t find themselves. We have this always on our minds and if we can’t find ourselves we think it’s our fault and at the end we take it as a failure. If we don’t think about it at all we’ll have much more time to care for others, to help other people who are not in such a good situation as we are. Or we could just live happily and thankfully for living in such a peaceful era and place.
(What I say is only true about modern, developed societies.)
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@jacuzzi, In order to change other people into a better direction first you need to be in one. You need to be knowledgeable/have experience of the way you are proposing and only then you can change somebody or the whole country. So selfish(in means of improvement) is the start of where you can try to help others. Many politicians fail to do good because they don’t even know the way or have seen one with their own eyes.
@splashartist, You made a point there. Actually one of my main theories/beliefs that fundamentally everybody is selfish. Because if you do something good for others you do it because you’ll feel better so actually you did that for your own good. So what I say is the other way around: being selfless is selfish. BUT I’ve never examined if it could be true vica versa.
Before you can effectively make others happy, you need to be happy with who you are. Because of this, self improvement is quite the opposite of selfishness.
If I’m not happy with who I am, I’m not going to help others. It’s not because I wouldn’t want to, but because I wouldn’t know how to. How can I show compassion towards others while not sparing any for myself? And it’s not as if kindness is limited… I just think it needs to start with yourself.
What comes to mind for me with this topic is relationships. If a person isn’t happy with herself, any romantic relationship she enters will be utterly dependent on her partner. You can’t depend on others to make you happy, and by not making an effort to make yourself happy and healthy, you become a drag and unwanted burden on others’ shoulders.
It’s important to achieve happiness for yourself so you can share that with others.
@jacuzzi, That last paragraph really resonated with me. You certainly can never reach the desired potential, but I think you can get close. That’s the fun, isn’t it, trying to reach that state and continually failing, but making gradual progress towards the ultimate goal?
You’ve got a great point here though, just simply appreciating the life you live for it could always be much worse. Food, shelter, water, what else do ya need? It makes your ‘problems’ seem pretty trivial when you realize that you have a steady supply of all of these necessities.