Take a look at yourself. What do you see? Let me take a crack at it and do my best impression of a psychic: Things are okay the way they are, but you often think about how they could be better. You’re doing your best to stay happy out here, but some times people just bother you and get you down. Work is all right, but you’re capable of more. All in all, things are fine, but they could always be better. And by golly, you know that YOU could be better. You can see yourself rising above everything with grace, not worried about a thing. You see it, it’s within your grasp, and then boom, the alarm goes off and your lunch break is over. So you go back to work. Then you go home and take part in your usual dinner, TV, Instagram scrolling and maybe sex routine if you have enough time. Then you wake up early, get dressed, go to work, take your lunch break and repeat.
Pause. If you’re about to stop reading and write me off forever, don’t. Or if you do, just know that the problem is with $5 psychics, it’s not with you. Actually, I take that back. There’s no problem with $5 psychics OR you. We’re all fine, in transition, right where we are. It’s quite natural to fantasize about how things could be better, and for the extra responsible people, to think about how you could be better, not everything else. It’s natural to compare ourselves to what we think of as the best version of ourselves or to people we emulate. We want what’s best for ourselves. We want peace and happiness.
So when you envision someone that’s completely at peace, what do you see? Is it a Buddhist monk who’s been meditating for the last seven years without taking a break to eat or sleep? Or perhaps it’s someone who’s frolicking naked through a field of sunflowers. Hey, maybe it’s Elon Musk, gleefully wielding his flame thrower as he prances around Mars without a worry in the world. We all have our image of whatever that peaceful person looks like.
However you envision a person at peace, the one trait that I would think permeates through everyone’s interpretation is easiness; simplicity. Those who are at peace never seem to have to struggle through things, do they? Life is beautiful and happiness seems to require no effort or, more importantly, no exhaustion.
It is here where many people looking to better themselves go wrong. The trap we fall into is thinking that having an easy and peaceful way of life is just that; simple and easy. We get angry at ourselves and say, “AH why I can’t I just do that? It’s so simple! These peaceful people are doing nothing!”
As far as we can see, those who are at peace, those are genuinely happy, essentially have the same lives as us, they just handle shit better. We’re only missing that one little trait.
Well, that is true. It’s also true that the difference between you and a professional hockey player is that you don’t skate like a magician, shoot a puck 100 mph and have hands as soft as an angel. It’s really not a whole lot of difference. The issue, however, is that when it comes to simple, happy living, it’s easy to not acknowledge expertise. You look at the differences between you and a hockey player and say, “Yeah but they’ve trained their entire lives to do that, I can’t just do that”. Often, we don’t have the same reaction or level of patience when comparing ourselves to those who have more peace in their lives. It looks easy, we focus on all the good, forget about the struggle that needs to be endured, assume something is wrong with us for not being able to pick it up instantaneously.
Now hear this: mastering peace of mind is like mastering anything else. It requires a fuck ton of practice. Is it a simple concept? You’re God damn right it is, but your brain isn’t simple. Your baggage isn’t simple. You’re undoing a lifetime of thinking patterns to attain the level of peace you want, and you think you don’t have to work for it? Three therapy sessions are not going to do the trick, guys. If you want to attain peace of mind, the route to getting there requires effort, saturation, and obsession. It requires diligence and maintenance. You wouldn’t expect to be a professional athlete after reading about it a few times each month and practicing once a week; that’s nonsense. You must be both realistic and patient with yourself in this matter.
So decide now what degree of peace you want and how badly you want it. Decide whether or not you believe in the path to getting there and whether or not it’s a path you’d enjoy. Define your metric of success (after watching my video called The Metric of Success lolz), make a plan based on practices that you’ll enjoy, and stick with it. There is no right answer here. Ideally, everyone would want an optimum level of peace, but we’re all at different places in life, we all define peace in different ways, we all have different priorities, and we’re all varying distances away from peace.
This kind of self-assessment is incredibly healthy. Whether it be about peace or anything else, the humility involved in being honest with yourself about your desires and how hard you’ll work to attain them offers a great look at what your real values are.
HOWEVER. There’s always a however with me. The pursuit of becoming one’s best self comes with a warning label. It sure is exciting to get on the horse with this stuff, especially if you find self-help a fulfilling route. We need progress to feel happy, and we’ll certainly get that by taking daily action and creating momentum, but in spite of what I said earlier, mastering self-improvement isn’t entirely the same as mastering a sport or any other endeavor.
In your journey towards developing mastery of anything, it is inevitably through comparison to your past self that you will be able to gauge the progress you’ve made. Because your relationship with yourself is always the most important relationship you’ll have, self-improvement becomes very slippery when you’re constantly in a state of looking forwards. It can be easy to feel as though there’s always room to grow, therefore you’re never quite good enough. Having these feelings when pursuing mastery of something outside of you can range can have a wide range of effects on you, but most often it’s not so crucial as it is when it comes to yourself, your identity, and the idea that something is wrong with that.
It is here that the people getting unhealthily obsessed with self-improvement start to believe that little thing I mentioned in the second paragraph about feeling as though there is something wrong with them (or the $5 psychics). Feeling as though there is always a way or a method to bettering yourself perpetuates the false idea that something is wrong with you. Devoting yourself so wholly to something so personal can, if not handled carefully, cause not only severe upset but also an unhealthy addiction to improvement. You’ll step out of a seminar entitled “5 Ways to Improve Your Love Life” feeling pretty good about yourself, but down the hall, in that very same Hilton there will be a “3 Reasons Why Your Finances Aren’t In Order”. The cycle will continue and you find that all these practices claiming to help you are just reaffirming the idea that something is wrong with you, thus making one of the three reasons why your finances aren’t in order the fact that you’re spending all your money on this shit.
Once again, like everything else, it comes down to attachment. The base truth here, and probably what I could’ve said from the get-go to save us both some time is that to become the best you, of course, it will take time and practice. As with everything, you must put on your adult pants and be patient. I’ve come across so many people, clients as well as peers, that just don’t understand how following a few mindfulness pages on Instagram is yet to change their lives. Devotion and practice can’t be stressed enough here. And most importantly, as contradictory as it may seem, you must remain present enough to say, ” I accept myself as I am now, and though I have a goal I’d like to reach, it is not above me, and I have the same amount of worth whether I reach it or not.”