Midweek Nudge #39

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

— John Donne

Hi there!

Here’s your gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive. You can always talk to me more about these ideas by replying to this email.

Improvement Is A Confused Person Pacing

Over the past few years, I’ve continually gone back to my previous selves and put up questions. How would I deal with this issue in the phase where I barely had any time to breathe, working two jobs and studying on the side? How did my adolescent self handle his anxiety? I was sure he had it too. How was I able to switch context so quickly when I was backpacking a few years ago? I can barely manage it now.

This constant back and forth made me conjure this abstract idea that makes improvement look like this person I once saw in a mall years ago. He was pacing through the entire ground floor, back and forth and in circles, looking at the different stores. In the end, I believe he found the store he was looking for. However, I could bet he passed it about six times before he landed on it and went, “Ah! Found it!” I never heard him say it, but his beaming expression made me realise he couldn’t find it.

While that is a highly specific analogy, and no, I’m not a creep who’s constantly looking at people, I believe there’s something here. Improvement is about going back and forth, and in circles, and spirals until you land on what you need. No improvement is linear. In fact, I often find most answers I find within my past selves’ experiences. Things that I’ve long forgotten or habits I’ve long quit, or issues I thought I had long solved.

I think improvement is pretty much that. It’s a simple person, going back and forth and missing their “Aha!” moment until they pass by it again and look up at just the right time. The most important part was that you kept walking.

What’s On My Mind?

Self-improvement is not about the self. In fact, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with your interaction with different domains, people and aspects of your life. To be fit wasn’t just to be fit on your own, it meant you could also be there more for others in times of need. To have better workplace boundaries ensured you were a valuable and balanced addition to any team. To have your own philosophy figured out gave you a way to contribute to the world. Instead of asking how can I be better today, perhaps it’s imperative to reframe the question to something like “how does this help me do contribute better, wherever that may be?”

I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.


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