A lot of people on this platform, including me, are trying to improve their lives. Often our issues are deeply embedded and traditional methods haven’t helped.
It’s all about building a life that enables you to be the best version of yourself. Reading and writing helps. You can start to control you better, but, unfortunately, many things lie beyond any of our influence.
When life gets tough, self-improvement gets tougher. We fall back into old coping mechanisms, and it depresses us. We see hard-earned progress unravel quickly, all because we don’t have the time, energy, headspace, or capacity we need to keep up our new positive habits.
We all have a finite bandwidth. My advice? Try to limit the damage in the bad times, and get back on it in the good times, which will return.
Life is not always fun, or easy. We all need contrasts in our lives to highlight and make sense of our range of experiences.
I’ve heard many sportspeople talk about how performance is improved by keeping an even keel — don’t get carried away with the highs (and risk over-confidence) and don’t get too weighed down by the lows (and lose the willingness to try again).
Life is not sport. There are crossovers, but they are different beasts. So, actually, you can pick an even better way.
Do get high with the highs. Extract every drop of joy you can from life. When it’s going well, call it, own it, celebrate it. And try not to let the lows weigh heavy at all. Learn lessons at a later time, sure, but for now, it’s OK to just get through.
When life gets overwhelming, we start thinking of all the things that are wrong. Our job, finances, weight, friends, marriage — the list goes on.
Is it any wonder we feel bad when we pick up that many sticks to beat ourselves with? Worse, we get so used to picking them up, we don’t even know we’re doing it any more.
It’s just our life. How we are. Looking for what’s wrong instead of what’s right.
Every step along that road of self-loathing we take, change feels less possible and more distant. But, there is a way out. …
Dear The Middle Class Membership Department,
I am writing to formally request that my membership in your club be rescinded. I never asked to join it, it came as a free gift with the family I happened to be born into.
One of those free gifts that isn’t really a free gift. Like the cheap shiny pen the equity release salesman gives your Nan as she signs away the capital on her house at a shockingly bad interest rate. But he was “a very nice young man”.
And that’s part of the problem. Us (you) middle classers are so “nice”…
It doesn’t matter whether you are 4 or 44, if someone new joins the class / sandpit / office / team… make them feel welcome.
You were there once. You didn’t know how things work. You weren’t sure you’d fit in. You worried (wrongly) that others didn’t really want you to be there.
It doesn’t take much. A smile, a “hello”, a fist-bump and a very basic couple of questions, like for instance:
“How did you end up coming here?”
“What are you looking forward to doing today?”
Note, these are not the standard “How’s it going?”, which is too easy replied to automatically with a “Fine, thanks” and the conversation stalls.
The tiniest bits of acknowledgement, explanation, chat, or “checking-in” throughout the day will go a long way. Treat others as you would wish to be treated.
A lot of self-improvement advice wants you to commit “all-in” to one single process. But how often does life teach us that, actually, balance and blending is important?
In the world of medicine, we’re given clear boundaries — don’t operate heavy machinery while on this drug, don’t consume alcohol while taking these tablets. Don’t mix.
Life boils down to which advice you take, and which you don’t.
I’m here to tell you, don’t mix your medicines, but when it comes to self-improvement, cherry-picking, then mixing and matching is a great idea.
I want to learn. I try to grow. I’d love to help.