WHAT SELF IMPROVEMENT MEANS TO ME // LOVE YOURSELF
Just a friendly disclaimer, I am by NO means an expert in self improvement or self love.
My experience and knowledge of all things self improvement boils down to this: my own personal weight loss and subsequent battle with body dysmorphia, a semester long college course on the sociology of self improvement, and reading a whole 3 self improvement/self help books. Not much to go on, but I still felt like it would be helpful to throw in my two cents worth on the topic. Also, with the start of new year and many people looking to change their lives for the better, it’s a relevant topic worth discussing. Oh, and I just finished my first book of 2019….that happens to fall into the self help/self improvement genre.
First, let’s start with how my definition/perspective of what self improvement means has evolved over the years. When I was in the thick of losing weight, incorporating fitness and nutrition into my life, self improvement boiled down to one thing: physical appearance. Happiness, self esteem, self love, or emotional well being never even entered into the definition. Because, during that time, those things didn’t appear to be in need of improvement. In college, from the very first day of my one and only self improvement class, I had this previously held definition completely dismantled right before me class after class..
Over the course of 16 weeks, I learned about the history of self improvement as well as all the different areas of your life that the term actually covers/entails.
At the time, I was a junior in college with no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So, the very idea that self improvement could cover or include literally any aspect of your day to day life was quite overwhelming. In addition, a lot of the reading material was either too difficult too understand (probably because it was a good 20-40 years old) or didn’t seem to apply to my life in a meaningful way. To make a long story short, I didn’t get out of the class what I thought I would. I left that class, and my junior year of college, feeling even more lost when it came to self improvement than I had at the start of the semester.
Then, came new years eve 2018. I was at home, watching Netflix, wondering what the New Year would hold for me. And, like a lot of other people, reflecting on how God awful 2018 was. I was determined to make 2019 a better year…which led me to make a list of 19 goals to accomplish in the New Year. While a lot of those goals were fitness/health focused, quite a few were also centered in the realm of self improvement. And, since reading more also made the list, I got the brilliant idea (on January 1st, 2019 nonetheless!) to fire up my nook and see if there were any self improvement/self help books that caught my eye.
When I came across, “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, I knew I had found the right book for me.
Let’s flashback a minute to that college class. A few weeks in, we were told that we would have to pick a recent self improvement book from the previous 10 years to read, apply to our everyday lives, and then give a short in class presentation on. The day of said presentations, at least a dozen of the 60 or 70 students in the class gave presentations on “You are a Badass.” I was immediately regretting the book I had chosen, because Sincero’s book just seemed like such a good fit for me and where I was at in my life at the time. So, when I went to the Barnes and Nobel store to choose a book, this is the first one I looked into (and ended up purchasing).
I finished the 207 page book last Friday (January 11th). And, from the very first few pages, I was hooked. In fact, I found it extremely difficult to limit myself that very first night of 2019 to limit myself to just 30 minutes of reading it. And, while a full book review/summary would isn’t within the scope of this blog post, I thought it would be helpful to mention a few things I liked about the book, and highly recommend it to anyone regardless of where they’re currently at in life/looking to go in life. First, I found it helpful that the book was divided into parts in addition to chapters. This made just getting in 10 or 15 (sometimes more) minutes a day in a lot easier.
On top of that, every single chapter started out with a quote and a personal antidote/story from the author’s life. This little stories made the book so much easier to read and the actual self improvement concepts more applicable to the everyday person’s life. Finally, at the end of the book, Sincero offers a list of addition reading in a variety of different self improvement areas. Since I really enjoyed her book and trust her opinion on self improvement, I found this list to be particularly helpful for future book selections. Now, for the three concepts that I took away from the book and have found immensely helpful:
If you want something or are trying to achieve a specific goal, you have to really BELIEVE that it is possible. That you deserve it and that it will happen, and then take the necessary actions. Sincero recommends writing affirmations centered around this goal as well as visualizing yourself reaching the goal and imagining how you’re going to feel once you finally attain said goal.
This is just simply my favorite quote from the book that happens to double a great way to live your life and approach goal setting, “What you choose to focus on becomes your reality,”
Finally, at the end of nearly (possibly even every single one) chapter she ends either the last sentence or a numbered list with these simple words: Love yourself.
Now, as briefly as possible, I’ll tell you what the term “self improvement” means to me.
In 2019 my personal definition is far simpler, while still being all encompassing of all the faucets of my life that can be improved. To me, self improvement is about being positive, no matter your circumstances, that things will work out in the end. And, that loving yourself has to be your number one priority, otherwise, there is no self improvement. Period. It really is that black and white. Self improvement isn’t being better than anyone else or making a bunch of drastic changes, it’s about being the best version of yourself; it’s about being KINDER to yourself.