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“Self-Improvement Is Masturbation”

Friday, November 21st, 2008
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross

In the movie Fight Club, the character Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) states, “Self-improvement is masturbation”.‚  Durden is absolutely correct.‚  Whether you take this to be good or bad is dependent upon your view of what the act of masturbation represents: is it self pollution or positive self reinforcement.‚  To me, it is an act of positive self reinforcement since it releases you from your biological reproductive imperative to accomplish greater tasks.‚  Durden takes the opposite view, as shown by his second statement, “Self destruction is the answer”. Here he is referring to the seeming pointlessness of modern living. I disagree with him and I have begun relentlessly pursuing a path of self-improvement and am having more fun and am happier than I ever have been before.

The four major components of self-improvement to me are mental, physical, emotional and financial.‚  Financial is more a secondary component, but it is vitally important to supporting reaching your goals in the other three areas.‚  For instance, it is awfully hard to read books or work out when you have to work 90 hours a week pumping gas to feed your five children.

Mental Self-Improvement: Mental self-improvement is the active and continuous pursuit of opening your mind and increasing your mental abilities.‚  For my personal mental improvement, I have been engaging a two-pronged strategy: I avoid activities that don’t help my mind and I make sure I have easy access to activities that do improve my mind.‚  I have no television, no computer games and no video games to distract me from my goal of mental self-improvement (Note: I think that video & computer games can improve you mental capabilities, but I think other activities do a better job of this).‚  I watch movies that challenge my perspectives and beliefs, while avoiding popular trash like Spiderman 3.‚  Chess is one of the few games that I play.‚  I am actively pursuing useful new knowledge (taking my Advanced Web Application Development certificate course and am learning the C# programming language.‚  I spend my time with intelligent people that can help me sharpen my social skills.‚  I avoid tools that are going nowhere in life.‚  I regularly read many publications (New York Times, yahoo.com, msnbc.com, New Yorker, Financial Times, espn.com, blog.joelx.com ;) and a dozen or so blogs.‚  I still need to cut down on my partying though.

Physical Self-Improvement: Physical self-improvement is vital to a happy life.‚  There are countless studies detailing the immense benefits of regular exercise, including a better sex life, better mental performance and massively reduced disease.‚  To this end, I exercise between 4-6 days per week doing a wide range of activities.‚  I always make sure to lift weights several times a week as part of my core program for physical self-improvement.‚  Sports are another important piece of achieving optimal physical fitness.‚  Playing sports has been shown to not only improve flexibility, strength and endurance, but they also help develop social and mental skills.‚  I play flag football weekly and play tennis, volleyball and basketball whenever I get a chance. My goal is to be in such good shape that I can do whatever sort of activity I wish whenever I want, whether it be climbing Mt. Everest, skiing, win a bar fight, running a marathon or bench pressing a small car.

Emotional Self-Improvement:People who know me best realize that my weakest area of the four main components is my emotional self-improvement.‚  That’s not saying much though because I vastly outclass most people in the mental and physical areas ;).‚  I am a generally happy person, but I still have a couple of anger issues that crop up from time to time.‚  I’M GOING TO TEAR YOUR HEAD OFF!‚  Sorry, that was a little out of line.‚  Actually, I try to treat people well and am a nice person most of the time.‚  My friends know me to be loyal and trustworthy.‚  I would like to further develop into a person that people feel they can rely upon for support and good advice.‚  Even though it can be difficult, I try to be introspective and constantly examine my personality and beliefs to make sure that I am living in the most positive way for myself and others.

Financial Self-Improvement: My finance major self demands that I toss in the financial aspect of self-improvement.‚  I think that gaining financial independence is an important piece of the ideal person.‚  If you are a wage slave, you will live constantly under negative pressures that will break you down from the person you want to be.‚  To improve my financial state of being, I graduated from college with a useable degree (business) and got a good job at a startup company in Pioneer Square (perhaps not a startup anymore… it was named the 10th fastest growing company in the Puget Sound region).‚  I am also working on my free time to develop my own business such as digital-auto-gauges.com, commercial-loans-source.com and my newest endeavor- importing.‚  My goal is to achieve full financial indepence before the age of 30.

Self-improvement can be challenging, but it is also incredibly fun and I feel better each day that goes by.‚  I love my life.‚  I hope you all join me in furious “masturbation”!

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