A couple years ago I decided that it was important to develop myself. It was more than just curiosity. It was necessity. I had went through a series of traumatic experiences which left me with the regret that I could have done better.
If only I had known…
So I began to read about personal development. I studied psychology, NLP, self-hypnosis, meditation…
I think that the vast majority of what happens to us is beyond our control. But we always get to choose how we react to what happens to us.
Which makes how we react a lot more important than what happens.
So, what did I learn from reading over a hundred such books in two years?
1. You are what you think.
It is almost impossible to find a self-help guru who’d disagree with this statement.
It all starts with thought. It is the building block of action, of emotion. It is the way that you think that determines the quality of your life.
2. Thought without action is useless.
I started with a piece of paper, a pen, and some fifty, sixty affirmations. Tried to write them in first person, second person… I even tried recording myself and obsesively listen to that recording.
My theory is that action is what truly reinforces beliefs and habits. You need to fake it until you make it, so to speak.
It is useless to read, over and over again, that you are outgoing if you do not go out into the world and try to be that.
3. Happiness is simple.
It is. Just a combination of getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising.
Being busy also helps.
The mind is this treacherous thing: it sabotages itself by thinking too much.
The more you think, the likely it is for you to think yourself out of being happy.
Happiness is not this check list of things that you need. It is not to be found in any place or situation or another person. Or any other number of people.
Happiness is a state of mind. And like all other states of mind, it comes and goes.
4. Surrender to the moment.
Ever tried to fight off certain cravings? Give up on certain bad habits? Quit smoking? Not think of someone?
And the more you tried to think of something else, the more difficult it became?
In fact, you are actually holding on to that thought by trying to escape it.
Let go. Surrender to whatever it is you are feeling. Observe what your mind and body are telling you.
Self-awareness is underrated. But it is extremely important. You need to accept the fact that you are how you are, and then understand why, and then you can change. There’s no other way.
5. There are no shortcuts.
Sorry, guys. No how-to guide can ever tell you how to live life, be happy, become successful, or earn a lot of money. You can read about other people’s struggles, what they did, how they did it, their principles and beliefs and thoughts patterns, but it might not apply to you.
You cannot replicate another’s life.
You can only arrive at the same conclusions, figure some things out, and that’s it.
6. Change doesn’t happen overnight.
It doesn’t take seven, or ten, or thirty days. It’s not as easy as listening to recordings and watching a bunch of seminars. It takes more time, more effort, and it’s an overall frustrating experience, even though these books would like to tell you otherwise.
In fact, it is only through a lot of effort that you can change certain habits and behaviors. It is a painful process. Your mind rebels against the new ideas. A paradigm shift is you vs. you in a very costly battle. You have to ditch harmful ideas, you have to accept reality as it’s being painted in front of your eyes by other people.
That being said, I’d like to conclude that personal development is a fascinating topic. Bettering yourself is an ongoing process which stops only when you decide to. There’s always something new to learn, some different approach to certain issues, there’s always room for progress.