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Self Improvement thread (number 3409)


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I know that there's been a few of these but I'm too lazy to search them out. So here's another one.

I've recently started reading more into so-called self improvement -- none of that Zen/Chinese mumbo jumbo or Headspace wank, more older Western ideas and philosophies like Stoicism from the time of the Greeks, and up to more modern self-help books on CBT and positive thinking. The first one I read was by Paul McKenna and although he's a bit of a creep I still think some of his ideas are sound.

Sadly most of the modern self-help books are American and therefore trite, meaningless, cheesym woke and likely even counter-productive, but there are some exceptions.

Here's my starter for ten - "top five regrets of the dying".

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

Quote

 

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

 

PS: I bought the book these come from, it's superflous and lengthy, and just re-treads the above so save yourself £10.

 

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Does anyone have any book suggestions or similar that they felt have actually changed their outlook on life permanently?

 

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Its all bollocks. All you need is a good base level morality, not sainthood, just fair. Then. Stop trying to live up to others expectations. Please others if it pleases you. I

Even simpler is to learn to be content with unhappiness.

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3 minutes ago, spunko said:

I know that there's been a few of these but I'm too lazy to search them out. So here's another one.

I've recently started reading more into so-called self improvement -- none of that Zen/Chinese mumbo jumbo or Headspace wank, more older Western ideas and philosophies like Stoicism from the time of the Greeks, and up to more modern self-help books on CBT and positive thinking. The first one I read was by Paul McKenna and although he's a bit of a creep I still think some of his ideas are sound.

Sadly most of the modern self-help books are American and therefore trite, meaningless, cheesym woke and likely even counter-productive, but there are some exceptions.

Here's my starter for ten - "top five regrets of the dying".

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

PS: I bought the book these come from, it's superflous and lengthy, and just re-treads the above so save yourself £10.

 

-

Does anyone have any book suggestions or similar that they felt have actually changed their outlook on life permanently?

 

Jonathan Livingston seagull.

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Its all bollocks.

All you need is a good base level morality, not sainthood, just fair.

Then.

Stop trying to live up to others expectations.

Please others if it pleases you.

If you ain't getting anything from it, don't do it.

Anyone who suggests you act selflessly is gaining something by it.

 

I think that's pretty much it.

 

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Greatest self help advice I could give to anyone is to get the closest mirror and look into it and hold that person responsible for every thing that is going on in that mind and own it/control it, even the perceptions of the wrongs you have perceived to have been done to you by others and events, it's you that decides how those events effect you.

But if you want a nice easy reading book to help you on your way I would suggest "Stop Thinking and start Living" by Richard Carlson

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9 minutes ago, GBDamo said:

Its all bollocks.

All you need is a good base level morality, not sainthood, just fair.

Then.

Stop trying to live up to others expectations.

Please others if it pleases you.

If you ain't getting anything from it, don't do it.

Anyone who suggests you act selflessly is gaining something by it.

 

I think that's pretty much it.

 

I'd add 'go easy on yourself' as another one. Often we're needlessly critical of ourselves when nobody else gives a toss.

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1 minute ago, spunko said:

I'd add 'go easy on yourself' as another one. Often we're needlessly critical of ourselves when nobody else gives a toss.

I used to be but realised, whilst no means perfect, I'm not an utter cunt. 

 

Another one, if you can't affect effective change don't try, it achieves nothing and disappoints all.

 

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49 minutes ago, spunko said:

I'd add 'go easy on yourself' as another one. Often we're needlessly critical of ourselves when nobody else gives a toss.

I leave it for other people to criticise me, and I don't give a toss.:S

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1 hour ago, sarahbell said:

Jonathan Livingston seagull.

I loved that book - another by the same author that I really enjoyed was Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah - worth a read if you haven't already.

WRT the thread, I chase one goal only - to be happy. The way I look at it, if I'm happy then all other aspects of my life must be OK as well - health, finances, emotions etc. It's just a simple approach without getting too bogged down in specifics.

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1 minute ago, Fully Detached said:

WRT the thread, I chase one goal only - to be happy. The way I look at it, if I'm happy then all other aspects of my life must be OK as well - health, finances, emotions etc. It's just a simple approach without getting too bogged down in specifics.

Even simpler is to learn to be content with unhappiness.

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13 minutes ago, Bedrag Justesen said:

Even simpler is to learn to be content with unhappiness.

That quality will let you deal with setbacks. It is also required for long term planning: "I'll do this unpleasant task today so tomorrow will be better." Might as well do it cheerfully!

I do wonder about the respondents in the OP who said "I wish I hadn't worked so hard". Would they really have had happier lives if they'd kicked back and taken it easy? I suspect in many cases not, because they'd have been going through a lived experience instead of looking back from a perspective of being old and near death. If they were looking back at a life of (relative) material deprivation and financial squabbling,  they might regret that just as deeply. They chose the thing that made sense (given their nature and circumstances) at the time.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

Edited by Lightly Toasted
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9 minutes ago, dgul said:

= stoicism.

Or, perhaps better put, to be resilient to misfortune.

That's something different.

Resilient to misfortune suggests coping with unhappiness, that's steps away from being content with unhappiness.

If I'm coping that means I'm hoping it's temporary unhappiness, and that better days are in store.

If I'm content with unhappiness, I have accepted my lot, and not yearning for something to change.

Losing all your highs and lows, ain't it funny how the feeling goes, away.

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3 hours ago, spunko said:

I know that there's been a few of these but I'm too lazy to search them out. So here's another one.

........

Does anyone have any book suggestions or similar that they felt have actually changed their outlook on life permanently?

You've bugged my phone right?   Nice, and timely, post.  I like your direction and it's given me the idea to also go off and look more at the classics which so far have been limited to Plato (excluding the like of Locke and co).

My partner recently paused a normal life of normal work and joined renegade me 24/7 (I've been at it 7 years).  It has been interesting to observe and learn.  Along with a few flare ups tbh, one of which ended with a long chat about such things only yesterday.  We are living the difference!

I score a proper 4 out of 5 on your list and am not so sure on the possibly missed one.  That is a good list, although I think there is a step behind all that which is more conceptual, including such thoughts as "enlightened", "reflective", "grounded", etc.  The underlying here is to respect the pure awesomeness of time, the very thing normal seems to try to own. 

I found I had to detox first from the normal, that I could not control this process (a normal type attitude), and that it took a long time.  After trying to the point of giving up, it happened to me one day out of the blue.  Walking the dog, which in itself was curious!  It was a rush of contentment, like being able to let go and fall backwards with no thought or care about the consequences.  To let what will be be.  To trust myself, my experiences, and so forth.  It's like it's all in another parallel dimension into which we get given glimpses. 

To me it's about peace, nay grace, as a journey not a destination.  To be able to detach myself from myself and observe.  To separate analysis from values.  Maybe I'm just lucky to be a bit older and well travelled to be content, although the ultimate end of my current journey makes me now want to engage and travel the world again.  To observe, to absorb, and to celebrate like never before.

Hopefully my partner is on such a path, although she values social contact more than me and is happy to do some work again.  Good, as I feel like that Buddhist monk, able to become enlightened but only with someone else's support (although I do work).  We've tried the volunteering, mentoring, etc but they are normal world activities that miss the target. Maybe we will set up a business, to make money yes, but also to bring better in a micro way.

I remember going into US bookstores and being amazed at the shelf space devoted to self improvement.  FWIW I'm contributing with my own excellent book, available in all good outlets in time for Christmas!

Edited by Harley
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I am sure people say lots of stuff when they are dying and think that list of 5 things is just bollocks!

 

Apparently my aunt by marriage (who knew she was about to die if cancer) told my uncle and my cousins (who were gathered around her at the end) that she'd had a good life and what a good husband he'd been, what great kids they had been etc. Sure she was sincere. She'd had an ordinary life of hard work and problems, but it had turned out fine and she had enjoyed it even though the cancer got to her before she got properly old. A life well lived IMO.

 

That's the way to go? What's the point of having regrets?! (Won't change anything at that point?)

 

And anyhow, most ppl don't get to do the hollywood deathbed scene like she did? (A lot of my family seem to die rather unexpectedly/get taken by surprise!)

 

Re self-improvements, I think there's no "fits all" advice how to live well?  We all have our weaknesses? Eg Lazy ppl need to work more, workaholics need to work less? 

 

I am lazy and easily stressed. But I have got to the stage in life when I can do (very) little ... which I like! (I am very lucky I know.)

 

Re the stress, I have to still work on keeping my anxiety levels low. Not everything gets me nervous, just certain triggers I have observed. And with age I have realised that I will find something to worry about if there isn't an obvious crisis. (I know this is silly. So I am trying to talk myself out of it whenever it happens now!)

 

Best book I found for helping with unnecessary worrying is called "Fuck It". (Don't think I actually bought/read it. But I did read an article about it and reviews and probably that was enough?) 

 

https://www.thefuckitlife.com/books/

 

Found saying "Fuck it" out loud whenever I felt anxious about a non problem worked!  Only negative has been that I have become much more sweary since I started doing that!

 

Wouldn't be a good book for someone who is irresponsible tho? (They need to say "fuck it" less often?!) And not much help much in a real disaster I presume?! (Placebo at best! 🙄😂)

 

Being a bit worried in life is necessary and productive for me eg I had bouts of panic which would keep me revising for exams and putting more effort in at work. And which would prevent me from spending too much money etc?  So I just wanted to diniminsh any pointless/damaging worrying. And for that it was good for me.

 

Re family, friends, relationships, I have a small family and I have decided I don't need a lot of people. So I am concentrating on trying to be a decent person to those who count.  (Don't care so much about the rest anymore tho I never fall out with anyone and I think kindness should generally be the first approach. Or at a minimum "do no harm"!) 

 

I am no paragon of niceness - I know that!  Cos I am human. And we are all flawed? So I really liked that Ted talk by Alain de Botton which I found & posted on another thread recently ...

 

 

I can see by Googling him for that YT that he has done loads of talks on relationships and on other stuff like "pessimism" . (I should watch more of him!)

 

I liked his lack of tweeness in the above talk. He seems pragmatic and wants to tell it like it is?! But hopefully in a positive way.

 

Anyway, I believe we are all struggling in life in some way?  But at least we can have a nice chat here while clinging onto the DOSBODS life raft?!  😁

 

This place really entertains me and often cheers me up. And gives me the perfect excuse to indulge my laziness while saying "fuck it" to any looming situations I want to avoid addressing!  🍻

30 minutes ago, dgul said:

= stoicism.

Or, perhaps better put, to be resilient to misfortune.

I do admire that characteristic in folks ...

Edited by whocares
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9 minutes ago, Fully Detached said:

Why do you need an exact definition? What constitutes happiness for me is probably very different to what constitutes happiness to you. If you're happy, it's all good, surely?

Most peoples ideas on what will bring them happiness is no more thought out than chasing rainbows.

https://positivepsychology.com/hedonic-treadmill/

I'm a naturally happy person. One off hits are fairly easy to adjust to, but I find it much more difficult to deal with ongoing negative situations. The main thing that would cheer me up is finding a job where I didn't have to constantly interact with belligerent morons. Now that really is chasing rainbows.

xD

 

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1 hour ago, Fully Detached said:

I loved that book - another by the same author that I really enjoyed was Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah - worth a read if you haven't already.

WRT the thread, I chase one goal only - to be happy. The way I look at it, if I'm happy then all other aspects of my life must be OK as well - health, finances, emotions etc. It's just a simple approach without getting too bogged down in specifics.

Yes that one too is excellent.

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