Seeking to become a better person, expand your potential, and achieve or do more with your life than ever before can be rewarding. It can feel empowering.
But what if chasing after this goal, trying to achieve perfect peace or utter happiness, or simply striving to be a better person may also be robbing you of happiness? What if your very pursuit of fulfillment and joy reduces the very thing you’re seeking?
In your journey of self-improvement, try the following two strategies to stay balanced and holistic in both your ability to be happy now, and find happiness later.
1. Take Joy in the Journey Itself
“He was always in a hurry to get where he was not,” wrote Leo Tolstoy. And for many of us, that’s our mindset. We get so caught up in the process of building the perfect life, that this one option is all we can see and all we work towards.
We’re so focused on maintaining this one ideal - whether it’s a certain lifestyle, or a job, or a relationship status - that it fills our entire field of vision.
But in your pursuit of that specific end goal, however noble and beautiful this goal is, what if you miss out on opportunities and options along the way? What if you get so caught up in achieving what you THINK would be your best life, that you miss the type of best life you truly need?
Instead, treat the journey itself as a place of fulfillment and adventure. There are many ways to find your purpose, experience joy, and be in a place of contentment. And it might look different from what your imagined end goal was. Let the journey carry you forward!
2. Consider Your Experiences as Illusions or Perspectives
We can become so caught up in experiences and goals that we start to become too attached to them. If we think certain outcomes or certain situations are who we ARE, then we may make decisions to protect our access to these things, or to preserve our social identity, or to maintain some semblance of control in life.
Most often these reactions are conditioned into us and we do them automatically, without thinking. And in many cases, we might be doing these things because we think they’re “good.” For example, perhaps you’ve become so attached to the idea that you’re a content, zen spiritualist that you hide your anger and frustration and bottle it up because you’re afraid that to express those emotions wouldn’t be “you.”
But all these layers of things are just illusion or a perspective. The fact of your soul is unchanging and eternal, but how we try to control the outward manifestation of that is all illusion.
The next time you find yourself getting too attached to a certain persona or goal or way of thinking, pause and say to yourself, “Interesting perspective.”
When you start to train yourself to see these attachments as perspectives, you realize that perspectives can change, and maintaining an openness to the world around you invites more possibilities into your life.
By letting go of points of view, and learning to trust and enjoy the adventures along the way, you keep your journey towards self-improvement empowering and positive.