Monday, October 09, 2017

If It Is Not Improving Your Life, Why Do You Do It?

Coming home yesterday evening listening to the Art of Manliness' podcast Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Superpower, I was struck by a singular comment that the interviewee made:  if something is not improving your life, you should not be doing it as it pulls time and resources from the things that you should be doing.

Which got me to thinking:  if it is not improving my life, why do I do it?

Understand me, there are lots of things that can improve one's life that may seem superfluous to an outsider.  I would argue that Role Playing Games, in some ways, do good things for my imagination.  Occasionally the odd NetFlix Episode helps me relax.  And I am sure for each and every one of us there are things which, although foolish or even seemingly time wasting to the outer world, actually work to improve some aspect of our lives.

But when was the last time I looked at my life and evaluated everything in terms of if it improved my life?

We all spend our time doing one of two things: things that improve us or things that that destroy us.  Sometimes the things that destroy us can cleverly be concealed as the things we "have" to do:  the job that requires 60 hours, the friendship that we are always trying to preserve, the thing we do because we have always done it or we have too much money invested in it to quit now.  The reality of these things is that while they may provide activity in our life they do not provide actual improvement.   We could work at the job forever and be neither richer nor better off; we could spend time and effort on the friendship that never goes anywhere other than down; we could invest in activities that we continue to do but never become more skilled at or improve in.  All that time and effort, lost.

The more reasonable position (it seems to me upon reflection) is to question each of these activities and items: Are you helping me to improve my life?  Is my life better because of what you bring?  Do I see a path forward where you will continue to contribute to the improvements I am trying to make?

To those activities or relationships or situations that should not, we should seek to let them go.  But to those activities or relationships or situations that do, we should seek to continue to invest in them and seek to become better at them. 

It is only through improvement that we can ultimately become the best us we can be.


  1. Hi TB :) Interesting post. I actually do feel the same way. I have shed and let go of anything and anyone who serves me badly. It took me a long time to get here, but I'm grateful I did. Sometimes we can't help do something, like a job, that doesn't serve us well, but I do believe we can work towards our little heaven one step at a time.

  2. Indeed Rain. The thing I found as I pondered this is that not everything that might seem a "time waster" is necessarily not useful, and not everything that utilitarian is of value. I think asking the question - Is it improving my life - will, as you state, move us in the direction of where we want to be, no matter how slowly.


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