Self improvement creates wellbeing

There is a tension between accepting yourself as you are and the notion of self improvement. As high achievers, doctors often describe themselves as life long learners. Some even seem addicted to academic achievement, but is this the same as self improvement, or something else?

Footprints leading away for you in the sand on a beach near the waters edge. Some of the prints are made by bare feet but one set has been made by a jogger wearing sneakers

The language of self improvement is out of vogue. Now we talk about wellbeing, which has also replaced self care. Efforts at self improvement create wellbeing.

Doctors object to lots of these kinds of phrases, especially resilience.

Why is that?

Why wouldn’t you want to be resilient, have wellbeing, be improving in some way and be cared for?

Are you getting in your own way, limiting your potential, getting caught in semantics, missing out on optimising some part of your life, distracted by the system, too tired to care?

Are you engaged in self improvement? How do you go about it? Who helps you?

I decided two years ago to prioritise walking every day. I keep track of my steps and feel disappointed if any given day brings my average down!

I’m walking for self care, self improvement, wellbeing and resilience. I want all of it! I know when I walk, my present, and my future, is better.

In the present I feel satisfied, energised, more flexible and stronger, happier. And I know the likelihood of my future self experiencing all of these things, is increased, every time I succeed in the present. My future self will thank me.

If I don’t walk far on any given day, I practice self compassion AND I use that to motivate me tomorrow. It’s a balancing act between self improvement and acceptance of self. Self improvement plus self acceptance, creating present and future wellbeing. Love that!

The great news is the human body is an expert at balancing acts. In fact, it’s preoccupied with homeostasis 24/7.

Thinking about going to the gym or reading a book about going to the gym, or even talking with the gym instructor, is not the same as showing up and using the equipment. Wellbeing can be gained in stages. We can spend some time learning about the gym and the exercises, but the real bang for buck comes from getting at least a little bit puffy and sweaty. Stretching our muscles, moving our joints and raising our heart rate.

Self improvement, self care, wellbeing and resilience all come from stretching ourselves a little bit, in the present, in service of our future self, our future wellbeing.

Establishing a new habit, leaning out on our learning edge, growing and developing new capacity and skill, discovering new insights, challenging one’s self, is uplifting. It builds self confidence, self trust and inspires us.

As social beings we are far more likely to do so with the support of others.

  • Who is on your self improvement journey with you?
  • Who could you enlist to help you make more progress?
  • When was the last time you generated inspiration inside of yourself, for yourself?
  • How can you create more LIFE (call it sparkle, satisfaction, fulfillment, whatever floats your boat) in your life?