This is the introduction to my new book Self Improvement in Practice
The nature of this book – and of any reader-writer relationship – is such that I feel the need to tell you at least something about myself before we get started. In that sense we start off not so much on the wrong foot but a little off balance on the right one – because of course this book is not about me at all but about you.
However, since we’ll be working together for the next few weeks, in the interest of demonstrating that I am actually worth listening to I’ll provide you with a brief bio – relevant information only – after which we can get started.
Like many of us I wasn’t all that happy a teenager. My thoughts were negative and I was down on myself much of the time. I suffered relatively serious social anxiety and found myself nervous and awkward around people. Girls didn’t really like me. I felt out of place and wasn’t comfortable enough with my own idiosyncrasies to accept them for what they were. In life I was reactive and apprehensive – someone in the background you might not even notice.
Things are like this until the last few years of high school, when I start getting into self improvement. I read, watch and listen to a ton of material, both online and off. I start lifting weights, journaling, and working on my social skills. The anxiety starts to lessen and my thinking patterns start to change.
Later at university I start meditating, eating healthy, and working hard to get good grades. I start learning about learning, thinking about thinking, and get rid of my bad habits by replacing them with good ones. The summer after graduating I start writing about all this in a blog – I call it Freedom and Fulfilment.
At university I discover the concept of a “digital nomad” – someone who travels around while making a living online. I’m drawn by the freedom and mobility of this lifestyle and soon I’m part of that community, living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, then a major global hub for digital nomads.
One afternoon in Thailand I remember being struck with this overwhelming sense of gratitude for everything in my life. I’m lying in bed in my apartment with my beautiful girlfriend next to me. It’s warm and sunny outside. I’m physically fit and healthy, and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I have free time and I set my own schedule. I’m not tied to any one location, I can travel freely and I’ve seen some amazing places. Tens of thousands of people visit my blog each month and I get to spend most of my working hours doing something I truly love: writing.
Life was pretty good, and in that moment I really felt it. Along with the gratitude came a distinct thought: self improvement has given me all this.
All the “success” in my life, all the positive developments in internal and external circumstances, it had all come from the focus on self improvement.
A lesson reflected in that moment – and one I continue to learn – is that the best way to create the external circumstances you desire is to develop the qualities within yourself that bring them about. And that is, essentially, what this book is about.
Now of course, that’s a heavily simplified version of a life story. That moment in Thailand was almost a year ago as of publishing this book. Of course my life today is not perfect – I have problems like everyone and plenty of days where I wake up and don’t want to get out of bed.
The point is just that where I started is a long, long way from where I am now. I’ve learned some things along the way, and that’s what I’m going to share with you here.
In any case, as I said, this really isn’t about me. That was just to explain why I might be worth listening to. It’s important for you to know that I’m not a “keyboard jockey” or an armchair philosopher. I’m really doing it, as best I can. I’m still on this journey – learning, striving, growing – every single day.
Finally I want to sincerely thank you for purchasing and reading this book. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this information with you, it has helped me immensely and my greatest hope is that it can do the same for you.
Thanks again and move on to the next section when you’re ready.
How to Use This Book
This book is a series of 21 practices to improve your life, with one practice introduced each day for the duration of the program. It is fully interactive, which means you will be taking action every day. If you’re not prepared to do the practices, unfortunately this book will not be of much use to you. I cannot stress that enough – the only real value to be gained here is through actually doing the practices.
In the morning of each day, read through that day’s chapter and complete the practice at some point during the day. You can start with Day 1 today if you like, or you can wait until tomorrow to start.
You will also be asked to choose a greater goal or purpose to work with throughout the program, in addition to each daily practice. You’ll be doing one action per day in line with this purpose. Day 1 gets into this in detail with exercises to guide you through it.
For best results I would also recommend that you read in order, don’t skip ahead, and only do one practice per day.
What if I miss a day?
Sometimes life gets in the way and there’s nothing you can do. If you’re unable to complete the day’s practice, just wait until the next day and do it then. But these practices don’t require a huge amount of time or energy and are all readily accessible, so missing a day should be the exception and not the rule.
Finally, I’d like to ask you to approach this with an open mind. Some of these practices might seem strange or nonsensical when you first read them. Others might make you nervous or uncomfortable. In these instances, I would ask that you recognize your judgement for what it is, and complete the practice anyway.
While analysis is valuable, our minds are great at coming up with excuses, and you often can’t really “know” something until you do it. So please analyze and assess every single practice in this book – but only after you’ve done them.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get started.
Self Improvement in Practice is a positive, practical guide to holistic personal development. Here’s what one reader had to say: