The Basic Human Right of Improvement

The seven variables of improvement

Never take advice about never taking advice. That is an old vice of men — to dish it out without being able to take it — the blind leading the blind into more blindness. — Criss Jami

Improvement is a basic human right. We all have the right to improve, whether it is being better at something positive or being better at something dreadful.

Self improvement exists along a continuum, with a rather vast set of variables.

The seven variables of self improvement

  1. Value: On one end of the continuum may be things of little value, while on the other hand may be things of incredible value. It’s hard to say what’s more valuable: the small things that can add up or perhaps change a single life, or a sweeping grand gesture.
  2. Need: On one end are people who feel they need little to no improvement, and on the other end are people who never want to stop improving. The desire to improve includes the need for a single thing or for a complex combination of variables.
  3. Depth: On one end are simplistic approaches, and on the other end are deeply complex approaches. Sometimes improvement can be a balancing act, or it might be all about trying to simplify something highly challenging.
  4. Application: On one end of the continuum are material-based solutions that help us gain wealth, or perhaps get more Likes or get that big promotion. On the other end are people who study psychology or philosophy, or the various states of consciousness, perhaps focusing on improving the human condition.
  5. Approach: Some approaches are religious, others are technology-based. Some approaches are based in natural living, while other approaches find adherents jetting around the world to discover a more fulfilling life.
  6. Gain: Some people focus on what can best help them now, while others take the long view, making longer term investments. Sometimes we improve for our own benefit, while sometimes we may focus on the welfare of others.
  7. Visibility: Some people equate self improvement with athletic challenges, while others prefer to curl up with a book in a remote cabin in the woods. Some improvements are easily seen while others require a practiced eye to discern.

In my opinion, everyone is trying to improve. Even the ones who’ve stopped trying. So yes, even people who excel at being bullies or encouraging divisiveness are, if nothing else, improving on how to be more awful or manipulative. At its most fundamental each of us are improving the basics, even if it’s nothing more than trying to get a better night’s sleep.

Just like nature, humans are built to improve

Nature improves. Like nature, we are constantly changing, adjusting, eroding and growing. Autumn occurs once every year, naturally. To me, it’s less about whether we are improving and more about how conscious and deliberate we are in the process, and what we are choosing and focusing on. What we are shedding, and what we are growing.

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful. — Marie Curie

The practicality of self improvement is an interesting question. What is it that we are practicing? What are we aiming at? Because we may end up realizing that a particular form of practice is actually incompatible with our larger goals.

To me, the word ‘practicality’ triggers a few key thoughts. First, I want self-improvement that can help me in my daily life. Second, I want self-improvement that is practical. Third, I enjoy self-improvement that builds. So it can be building for something bigger or better, or for something of greater significance, or even for something aiming toward meaning and purpose.

For me personally, self improvement has helped define meaningful values in life. It’s often been uncomfortably challenging, but the end result has been a far deeper understanding of the human condition because I’ve gone through sometimes agonizing realizations about myself.

The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. — Helmut Schmidt

“What if everything that came from the past was actually influenced by the future?”- from ‘Dark’ the German TV series, Episode 4