Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Self-Improvement: Ground Zero

Before I start writing on my first habit, a few strategic "ground zero" statements:

I am a procrastinator. I am an impulsive, want-it-now, escape-obligations-any-way-you-can, daydream-yourself-out-of-your-dreams kind of person. My problem is rather more serious than that of most other people. This is a statement grounded in fact. I have been rendered powerless, in my personal and professional life, by my shortcomings. I let my relationships with with myself and the people close to me degrade and fail because of my inability to control myself in accordance with the principles of my humanity. The promises I make with myself fail. The promises I make to others fail. I'm shortchanging the quality of my life and the life of those close to me because of my inability to act out of my humanity and reason, to put a leash on my baser mind.
I am putting my trust in the system entirely. It's a system of my own devising, but it rests on the solid foundation of shared human virtues and failings, on principles that don't work only because people don't follow them, not because they're ineffective. I have a serious history of second-guessing myself, sabotaging myself with tangential thoughts, speculations, doubts that what I've thought up isn't as good as it can be, resolutions included. No more. Blindly following an intelligent and effective course of action is a million times better than criticizing and second-guessing half-formed resolutions, leaving them unfinished and unraveling, raggedy shapes in the mist. My course of action cannot fail provided that I follow it.
My imperfections are many. I am self-centered and slothful. I don't have a great capacity for feeling. I talk too much and do too little. I think useless thoughts. I am immature, and have a tendency to regress and daydream of might-have-beens. I understand people share these imperfections of mine, but I can no longer abide them. No more.
I am giving up on "as good as possible" and taking up "good enough". I recognize that "good enough" is better than most people even attempt. Most people aren't even aware of the necessity to improve themselves systematically, especially in an age of constant distraction, when systematic, focused thought is so hard. Those that are, procrastinate and put off their betterment indefinitely, most of them forever. So with this, with the simple, unassuming "good enough" I'm already part of a minority.
The minority I'm part of is one of more responsibilities and a duty to be, first and foremost, a better person for the others I meet in my life. It is not a minority of smug sainthood. If anything, I humbly ask of my reason, which is the gift of my humanity, something I've received for free and without having deserved it, to guide me - not to perfection, but simply a little further down the path I've laid out for myself, whenever I may falter. To give me the perspective to realize that ideals are delusions. To give me the certainty that my path is good enough, so I may take my first steps upon it. To provide me with the confidence and clear-mindedness that will allow me to go on, even if I have to make changes further down the path. To strengthen my humanity in the face of my animal nature, impulsive, grasping and miserly.
I promise to often seek community with my human and humane mind, to improve myself further down this path of mastering the animal. I promise to improve the life of others as humans, as I myself gain in confidence and walk further down the path of my humanity, and be generous with it.
Now a more practical promise to myself:

Whatever my path is at any given time, whatever the habit to cultivate at any given moment, at that given moment for me there exists no other routine than that habit and my non-negotiable work obligations that put food on the table and my mind at ease. The latter is a non-negotiable constant in my life from here on out.

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