I got sober when I was 15 years old in 1985. I've been excited about self-help work for more than 35 years! My dad is sober for 36 years and my sister is sober for 35. For me, self-help is a way of life.
My goal in life is to help others reach their potential in making themselves better people and making our world a better place. In connection with that goal, I am writing a number of books regarding self-improvements of various types; weight control, quitting smoking, improving nutritional practices, and others.
I think that whenever a person has resolved to embrace self-improvement of any kind, he or she has begun a new and exciting journey. And the journey should not just be a ‘head trip.’ That journey should be a time of action, from the very first step.
If you have taken the decisive step of resolving to address an issue pertaining to your health or lifestyle, I ask that you take two actions beginning right now. The first is to draw up a task list of actions you will take today, and then do the same thing every day from this day forward. The second is to understand a few things about self-improvement measures, and I will write about those things throughout this website. Let’s get started!
Daily Task List
You must begin every day with a written list of the things that you need to accomplish. Perhaps later in life you’ll have a monastic lifestyle and will have the required tasks for every day committed to memory.
But for now, you should first pray, then do some breathing exercises, wash your hands, drink some water, and then write out the things you want to accomplish today (on a notepad or on your laptop).
It’s best to start a new list fresh every day. This is because every day that you wake up you are a new person. You need not be chained to your old ways. You may add things not yet done from previous days, but your current day’s list must be based on your emotions and your physical condition. Doing this is an integral part of what’s referred to as “living in the present moment.”
Every day’s list must include the tasks(s) that you will hold yourself accountable to later.
You must have certain messages associated with your tasks. They must encompass being kind to yourself at times, being kind to others at all times, steps to take to lead yourself well, and steps to take should you be in a position of leading other people. Perhaps you are now or will someday be a teacher to others—so you must teach yourself well. Always remember that if you don’t lead and teach yourself well, you cannot lead and teach others well.
People do not like to do tasks that are not fun because they’re not creative and they do not stimulate pleasure. So in your task list it is important that you include at least a couple of hours per day of difficult tasks. If you focus on tasks that you commit yourself to, which is what you are doing with your task scheduling list, you will find the process of getting them done to be less unpleasant, more fruitful, and more satisfying.
Reflections on Self-Improvement
The discipline of taking care of the tedious tasks of life can be applied to all other aspects of life—this is the nature of self-improvement. I define self-improvement as taking on the difficult tasks that we need to manage by ourselves for ourselves every day of our life until they become habits.
Self-improvement is also a measurement of personal success. Personal success has nothing to do with things such as how much money you’ve acquired, how many books you’ve published, and the like. Personal success is measured by how well a person can improve themselves and address their own specific challenges.
For example, an alcoholic who stops drinking is a success in a crucial area of life. Another measure of success is progress. The alcoholic who goes from being tethered and broken to a sober, highly functioning person who helps others and makes a lasting impression on them is a success, regardless of money and possessions they have or do not have.
Cleaning up behavior patterns as they pertain to healthy lifestyle choices can be difficult. That wouldn’t be as much the case if we came from a lineage of people who understood the land, its fertility, how to cultivate healthy foods, and who didn’t have the types of traumas and anxieties that we have in our society today.
Yet it is the case now, and today’s traumas and anxieties make us susceptible to addictions or poor lifestyle choices. We now need to address our problems individually and collectively. A typical alcoholic is an example—he or she must take strong action. That action has to be broken into small pieces, or small steps, so that the steps can be taken one moment, hour, or day at a time in order to make positive progress occur.
There are requirements. The first is to recognize that life improvement is needed and to have a desire to make the improvement. The second is to realize that much damage has occurred and that it needs repair. The repair begins with our thoughts. The thoughts lead to speaking. The next step is action. Such action includes development of skill sets to improve thinking—practices such as mindful exercises and meditation.
These actions must include cognizance about what we say in the world. Things that we say become either spells that keep us locked in suffering or magic that frees us. But an even more critical thing is our own monitoring of our own behavior—making sure that we are doing positive things in the world each and every day.
We must see ourselves honestly. If we can’t do that, we can’t fix what is broken inside of us. A person might be a horrible racist but be unable to look honestly enough at him or herself to realize that. Such a person would need to recognize that character defect, resolve to fix it, and discontinue associating with all other racists. Another example is a recovering alcoholic who would need to discontinue associating with heavy drinkers.
And another factor is happiness. A person who realizes that the behavior that was harming others has also been making them unhappy has made a huge step forward: They have come to the understanding that their behavior was and is self-destructive.
If you want to change you must do a number of things daily. Be aware of your self-destructive behavior and strongly resolve to discontinue it. Think about overcoming it, talk about overcoming it, and do good things each and every day that will make the process of overcoming it a reality. Changing your negative and problematic thinking patterns may not happen overnight. But if you are fiercely committed to the process, it can happen soon. You can find a degree of relief as soon as tomorrow.
I hope that our paths will cross as you move along on your journey!