If there were self-improvers anonymous meetings I would be a permanent attendee for I am addicted to personal development. Now that I have started down this path I find that I cannot help but push myself to achieve more and improve more. One of my main hobbies has become the act of continually seeking to improve my life and the lives of those around me. I have noticed that other serial self-improvers "suffer" the same consequences, perpetually improving their lives and achieving more and more success as they do so. Through this observation, and my own experience, I have made a simple conclusion: self improvement is an addictive habit.
Self Improvement is an addictive habit
Addictions are generally bad things. The word itself has a strong negative connotation and the usage generally implies a lack of control and self-awareness. But not all addictions are bad.
Positive things with positive outcomes can also be addictive. Productivity, achievement and success all trigger a "natural high", a mental state of supreme happiness, awareness, and confidence. Self improvement just happens to ticks all these boxes.
The result of self improvement is a positive increase in all the above areas and so much more. It creates a positive aura, one that attracts more positivity and success, and it stimulates our mind and body and encourages us to start operating at a higher level. This is what makes it so addictive.
A friend of mine actually inspired this article when we were talking about home improvement. Here is his direct quote, and proof that once you start improving something, your mind begins to open up to see other opportunities:
Installing a new wardrobe was a bad idea...I now want to do all the other stuff on my To Do list. I'd kind of forgotten about all the things, but now we've started I'm remembering them all and when I walk around the house now all I see is things that need improving.
The beauty of self improvement is that it is never ending. There is always something else that can be learned and adapted to our lives. There are always new experiences, new people, and new challenges presented in our lives, and this is the only dangerous aspect of being addicted to self improvement - it easy to forget that there is no specific end goal in mind and that the simple act of self improvement is what provides happiness. This is summed up perfectly in the oft-quoted line by Souza:
Happiness is the journey, not the destination.
So for those just starting down the self improvement path, be mindful that it is the actual deed of self improvement that provides us with the happiness - the feeling of adding to our skills and knowledge, of making ourselves a better person, and of achieving more success. Do not get too hung up on thinking about the future and where you are going, but rather on living (and improving) in the present moment.
Or You Could Stagnate...
The alternative to this wonderful addiction called self improvement is that of stagnating. By stagnating I mean making the decision (conscious or not) to stay exactly as you are right now.
If you are not willing to challenge yourself, to grow, and to improve then what are you doing? Are you saying there is nothing in your life that needs changing? Are you saying that you couldn't be happier?
If you can truly answer yes to those questions (and I highly doubt that you can) then I have one more question: is there nothing more that you can do in your life that could help improve the life of others?
Even if you had everything you ever wanted, if you really were living your perfect life, I believe that you could still find even more happiness simply by helping others. And isn't the ability to sacrifice and be charitable, just one of the results of self improvement? See what I did there?
There is never a valid reason to stagnate in your life but, sadly, I see this as the default stance more and more people are taking. They are "giving up" and just accepting a life of mediocrity, anger, and unhappiness instead of trying to make a change. It doesn't take much. All you need to do is actually make a start.
Start Improving Today
I know that self improvement is an addictive habit because I am experiencing it first hand, but for those first-timers, and those who are trying to break out of their habit of stagnation, it can feel almost impossible to start. But don't worry, it's not impossible. You just need to start small.
Try being grateful for one thing, or giving a fresh compliment to someone, every day. Try some positive affirmations before you leave the home or just focus on observing your own thought patterns and living in the moment. It doesn't matter what you do, just as long as you do something!
Once you start down the path of improvement it will become near impossible to stop. The first time you work on self improvement is like the first snowflake that causes the avalanche - pretty soon the desire to improve is raging and the amount of improvement you seek is like a torrent of snow tumbling down a mountain.
But unlike the snow avalanche, this metaphorical one is not destructive. It is actually quite the opposite. Imagine an avalanche that only removed rubbish, beautified the landscape, and made the mountain an even more amazing place than it already was. That is what the avalanche of self improvement does in your life - it is a constant force that pushes away the negativity and stimulates the development of positivity. All it needs is that one snowflake to start it off...
Go forth and seek out self improvement. Your happiness depends on it.