By now, we are all too familiar with the maxim – The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But, have you ever heard of this aphorism – The road to self-improvement isn’t paved at all. On the contrary, it’s full of gravel of all shapes and sizes.
Alright, you caught me and I can hear you whispering: “That’s not a saying at all. This guy is full of….” Before you finish your thoughts, let’s not get too hostile. Hear me out. Have you ever experienced an epiphany so strong, it naturally moved you to improve a trait or habit which you deemed for so long paralyzing or destructive? Only to conquer that trait or habit and be rudely greeted immediately by another paralyzing or destructive trait or habit you had no idea existed within you. Soon you realize as you continue to trek forward, the road doesn’t get easier. The gravel beneath you begins to increase in size and no amount of money can save you from developing sore feet.
Three years ago, I decided to embark on such a journey after experiencing what I would describe as a life altering moment. To describe my early twenties, it would equate to the famous Joker ride at Six Flags – fun and dangerous. My pride had reached unfathomable levels like the stock market today. My selfishness knew no bounds. Not to get into the nitty gritty but, let’s just say throughout my fun and dangerous moments, I was blessed enough to escape death on one or two occasions. Those eye opening experiences were enough to prompt me to enter the race to self-improvement, not knowing the arduous challenges ahead. One day, I sat in deep thought and realized I had everything I ever needed – food, shelter, clothes, a career, loving people and great health. Yet, I was missing something. Desperate for an answer, I turned to religion for guidance. A bit naïve, I saw it has a cure to all my problems. Following months of studying and spiritual growth I surely believed I was on my way to a better life.
Initially, conquering your first bad trait or habit feels rewarding. However; you slowly notice the toll it takes on your state of mind. Just as I was preparing myself to take along breath of victory, life decided to throw me a curve ball. “Oh you thought you were done?” life said. Without warning, a new challenge sprung forth. “Now fix that!” shouted life. “And this, and that, and umm, don’t forget about this one.”
Naturally, if you’re not mentally strong, self-doubt begins to seep into all the neurons inside of your brain. Inevitably, the pain travels downwards and your feet begin to hurt as you trek on the uncomfortable gravel. “How could I have so many flaws?” you may catch yourself asking. “Why can’t this road be paved already? I just want to be better!” you may shout from within.
I get it. I really do.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to remain that way. By allowing myself to be humble as I can be, to interact and be in the company of people of all ages, old and young, I am now able to see the beauty in this continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement. I am now able to recognize growth, short or long term, and appreciate its worth. I am now able to calm my self-doubts and focus on one gravel at a time. And so can you! Humble yourself. Branch out, meet new people of different cultures, age and backgrounds. Build your knowledge bank. As you interact with those individuals, don’t fall in the trap of comparing yourself to them. Instead, take in the stories they share, draw out the lessons and use them as fuel to keep you going on your continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement. Now is not the time to give up. We may not be able to utterly predict our future, but stay on this lengthy and arduous path to self-improvement and the end result can only be a true masterpiece.
With that said, I leave you with this – Take your eyes away from this screen. Look around you. If you don’t like what you see, then change it. Do not allow them to break your spiritual core as it is the only spark that will set you free!
4 thoughts on “The continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement.”
I think with the current economical predicament, many of us find ourselves in this situation. The way you were able to openly be vulnerable might help others be more conscious of their thoughts and proportionately address them. It sure has made me consider my shortcomings and mindfully appreciate the small steps I have been taking to a better me.
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Well said! Just pulling for all of us to polish and be the best version of ourselves regardless of the challenges life decides to throw at us.
Come to think of it, should we called it a race? Was thinking race against time. But some people may think differently when it comes to their self improvement and growth as a journey and not a race. If they get there then “good”, if not then “oh well”.
The aphorism you mentioned had me contemplate about it alot. I too am continuing in this journey of self improvement. Its good to know that someone can understand what it feels like. Being part of this arduous journey is part of the improvement. You cant expect to easily improve overnight; its a lifelong journey. I think in today’s society where we want instant gratification, we lose our sense of humbleness and patience. Thank you Carl for a great article.
Glad you found this relatable John. Instant gratification as really taken a grip on our life. It can be demoralizing, but it’s like you said, we just have to understand that this journey is lifelong. It’s also very critical that we make the effort to surround ourselves with individuals who share our vision. As another aphorism states: “Your network is your net worth”.