As we begin to see and appreciate our essential selves, we manifest automatically that beauty and our true capacities, simply by letting them happen

41psrbzymcl-_ac_us160_“Many people carry around with them an image of the kind of person they wish they were, much as a tennis player imagines the kind of serve he wishes he could deliver. When our behavior does not seem to measure up to our ideal, we grow dejected and then start trying hard to correct it (‘Perhaps I should take a series of lessons, or a course on personality development, or read a book about how to become less self-critical, or undergo therapy, or join an encounter group’). Such steps are not necessarily foolish – I have taken them all – but what is needed is not so much the effort to improve ourselves, as the effort to become more aware of the beauty of what we already are. As we begin to see and appreciate our essential selves, we manifest automatically that beauty and our true capacities, simply by letting them happen.” – Gallaway

During the last few weeks of high school, we were asked to come up with a quote that would accompany our senior portrait in the yearbook. If you open my high school yearbook and flip to my portrait you’ll find the following quote next to my face:

“Each day I will strive to be better than my former self.” – Thom Yorke

But what does better mean? Better in what ways? Who are we competing against? How will we know if we’ve won? When does it end?

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I spend too much time in my head. “But I’m striving to get better,” I’ll tell them. That’s when they say, “Yeah, but you think too much.”

“What is needed is not so much the effort to improve ourselves, as the effort to become more aware of the beauty of what we already are.” – Galloway

Where are we meant to draw the line in self-improvement? What is good enough? Does it exist at all?

“As we being to see and appreciate our essential selves, we manifest automatically that beauty and our true capacities, simply letting them happen.” – Galloway

Perhaps the lesson lies within the striving.

Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” suggests setting cues and rewards to make any habit stick. He goes on to say that we need to perform a behavior for at least 30 days before it becomes a habit.

We aggressively block off our precious time for our most desirable habits. Let’s take it a step further. How about we start aggressively scheduling our downtime too? We need time to appreciate our accomplishments.

Let’s play a game

In our over-scheduled lives, why not lean into the obstacle?

Get your phone. No, really. Go get your phone. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Got it? Good. Open your calendar. Add a recurring 20-minute event: “Me Time.” Now set it and forget it. Each time that reminder comes up, stop, take a deep breath and shake it out.

Come back in a few weeks and let me know how it’s helped. You might find that this one little break in your routine will ease your mind, slow things down, and give you a chance to reflect on the accomplishments you’ve made this week.

We need to check in with ourselves to be better than our former selves.

Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.