? Copyright (c) 2010 Willie Horton
With the continuous and massive growth in sales of self improvement or self help books and the proliferation of personal development websites, wouldn't you think that you would by now have witnessed a major shift in human consciousness - a marked improvement in the human condition? In other words, don't you think, with all this new awareness, that a lot more people should be a lot happier? Sadly, not only is there little sign of improvement, all the evidence points to the contrary - increased levels of worry and anxiety as the economy slips and slides having been hijacked by a small number of people obsessed with their own greed and, as it turns out, their own self-destruction; a rise in anti-social behaviour and violent crime and the ongoing inappropriate behaviour of people, who should know better, on the international stage of politics and international diplomacy.
So, what are all those people who are reading self-help books doing? Perhaps, of course, you're one of them - and you're going to have to ask yourself the same question - what are you doing? Or are you doing anything differently at all? Well, in the course of my work I speak to or meet quite a few of them and, undoubtedly, whilst some are making major strides in their lives, there are many who, as in every other aspect of their lives, are going through the motions, fooling themselves into thinking that their attitude, mental state, behaviour and lives are changing for the better.
It's very easy to pursue a course of personal development and slip into a routine not dissimilar to all your other routines - repetitive, habitual, automatic and ultimately mindless. The moment anything becomes routine, it becomes useless to you in the pursuit of a better life because your subconscious mind is specifically built to enable you do routine things without paying them any attention. As the purpose of personal development is to develop one's focus - a fancy word for paying attention - then routine non-attention will defeat the whole purpose of your striving for a better life. And, so, I come across many people who have convinced themselves that they are developing the mindfulness - but who have ended up simply doing something else mindlessly! I've come across plenty of people who meditate regularly (and, consequently habitually and mindlessly), who tell me that they've never felt as calm and focused in their lives - but, if they were to stand back and take a look at the facts, they would find that their lives are crumbling around them: businesses being let drift on the basis that 'everything is moving in the right direction', relationships where familiarity is breeding daily contempt, people who are seriously unhealthy or overweight or both, people whose lives exhibit none of the concrete results that they should be getting from a proper approach to real personal development - one which is ongoing, evolving and enabling ever-developing personal growth.
If you have begun to pursue the journey of self improvement you should immediately see benefits in your life. These benefits should be concrete and measurable - not just that you 'feel better' about yourself or your life. If you see no benefits, no tangible results in terms of both personal effectiveness and the downstream benefits in your professional, personal and financial life, you are fooling yourself. And the longer you fool yourself the more dangerous it becomes because you will begin to convince yourself that your life is changing for the better when, in fact, you are becoming more divorced from reality. Herein lies at least one of the reasons why we're not witnessing a major shift in the human condition.
Undoubtedly, there are hugely useful and practical personal development resources out there - I believe from the feedback that I get from my own clients that what I enable them do has helped many people quite literally change their lives and that it can enable anyone do the same. I use the word 'can' instead of will because what I and others like me do is provide tools - but these tools have to be put to the right use. There is little point in providing someone with a hammer as a result of which all they do is beat themselves over the head with it! These tools must be used during the moment to moment cut and thrust of your everyday life - not just whilst you're sitting in the lotus position at six o'clock in the morning! Mindfulness - and all the extraordinary benefits that flow from it - is something that has to be practiced within the very fabric of your day - not just in preparation for it. Until you bring what you've learned in your self-help books and personal development courses into the very moment to moment behaviour of your everyday life not only will things not improve, they'll get worse.
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Article Added on Thursday, September 2, 2010
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