Our obsession with personal development

“The plain fact is that if you don’t have a problem, you create one. If you don’t have a problem you don’t feel that you are living.”
— U.G. Krishnamurti

We’re never happy — or so it seems.

First this, then that, until, well, I’m not sure.

Don’t get me wrong, save work, you’ve got to do something with your life, but I don’t remember my great-grandparents having the time or money to do the things that we’re blessed to enjoy.

And as for the publishing industry, it should know better but it’s simply more snake oil which we seem to lap up at every turn.

Instead, why don’t we live close to the ground, simply and not have to constantly better ourselves?

Because it’s boring? Possibly, but might that be because we’ve been overstimulated — i.e. we’ve got to always be doing something — by the media and our culture?

I’m lucky, firstly because I’ve come to accept my limitations; secondly, I don’t have a desire to climb the next mountain; but perhaps most of all, tearing off another goal, only to replace it with another not only doesn’t float my life-affirming boat, it also makes me feel that I’ve lost touch with the essence of life — which as I’ve described many times, perhaps in too childish a way for some — is to be found right beneath my feet (see this talk by the late Thomas Merton).

Of course, you’re more than likely, no very likely, to be wired differently but perhaps it’s high time we started to question the consumer-driven, be all you can be narrative, particularly bearing in mind the shitstorm that’s lapping at our existential shores in the form of the 6th mass extinction. Should we really be chasing after something better, bigger or brighter when the Earth is crying out for us to stop, to take a breather from our consumptive ways (and I include personal development in that category) and ask how we might serve a higher purpose, namely, one where we’re not constantly in competition with ourselves and every other person?

Then again, I’m sure I’ve got this all wrong. If I was a twenty-something, I’d be out to conquer the world, push myself to the limit of my capabilities and live life to the full. Then again, that doesn’t appear to have worked out too well for my generation who were sold something similar by the Ad Men.

Take care.

— Julian

Photo by Kadri Karmo on Unsplash