Did you know September is Self-Improvement Month? Get ready to see a lot more people walking around with $8 cold-pressed juices.
It’s easy for me to get cynical about “self-improvement.” After all, people don’t change. I have never in my life stuck to a diet, a budget, a resolution (new year’s or otherwise), a Dry-anuary, a detox, a cleanse, a “30-day challenge.” I start on day one with gusto, and then wake up on day two with all new priorities.
But as I hit my mid-30s, I see my lifestyle choices in contrast with the lifestyle choices of those around me. These are the people who don’t drink a bottle of wine every day, who go to boot camps at 5 a.m., who don’t appear to be going weeks-deep on Instagram on their phones during meetings. They probably do their dishes right after they’re done with dinner, and sweep the floor, too.
So, OK. I’ll bite. Now that I’m an old woman, I need to be more serious about self-care, -improvement, -respect. I don’t want to hit 40 still not knowing how to operate a food processor. Here’s some of what I found that I think a girl—nay, senior citizen like myself might get down with.
Seriously, I was watching my friend’s kids the other day (can you believe it!) and they were like “Do you want a gummy vitamin?” and I was like “I guess so.” Sure, you’re gonna give me candy, great. And let me tell you what: me and those kids were just throwing down gummy vitamins by the sticky fistful.
OK, maybe you don’t need to be eating them like that. But adding vitamins to your day—especially chewy sweet ones, yum—can boost your energy, aid digestion, and help your bod run like a Jag. Check out these SmartyPants gummy vitamins (for grownups), all parceled out for you and ready to go. (Enter code JETSMARTY for 20% off through Sept. 21.)
This is the kind of anti-self-help-masquerading-as-self-help situation that geezer Millennials like me really EAT UP. Mark Manson’ s “Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” eschews “positivity” in favor of cold hard reality. “Let’s be honest, sh*t is f*cked and we have to live with it,” he says, which is music to my ears. It’s funny how it all kinda comes down to the Serenity Prayer: not giving a f*ck is less about nihilism and more about accepting what you can’t change. Manson, despite his best efforts, offers a message of hope: Once we accept that we’re not all extraordinary, that most of us are just average shlubs, then we begin to find space for happiness. It’s strategic giving up. I love it.
On the other side of the find-happiness/self-improvement spectrum is Mo Gawdat, a Google alum whose theory for life fulfillment is—and wouldn’t you expect this?—to basically hack yourself. If you analyze how your brain and body process joy and then how it processes sadness, what is the perfect chemical combo to achieve happiness? “Solve For Happy” is when you give a math geek a TED idea. I know if I’m gonna buy into happiness, I wanna see those receipts.
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans are designers, so they know intimately the challenges that define this generation: How do we design our user experiences, interfaces, and journey-maps to give us the best results? How do we take what we know about human intuition and habit and work with those instincts to increase productivity, make experiences more pleasant, and keep ironing down the seams between the virtual world and the analog one? These are all mindset theories—it’s less about committing to 5 a.m. bootcamp and more about understanding yourself, your body, your needs. I like these concepts because they work toward the heart of what drives you. Or drives me. Maybe 5 a.m. bootcamps will never be my thing because it’s just not who I am. Maybe it’s a 6 p.m. water aerobics class I need. Or a brisk lunchtime walk.
It seems the path to self-improvement isn’t about forcing yourself into something someone else might call “improved.” It’s more about listening to yourself and finding what makes you more personally fulfilled and happy. Isn’t that improvement?
I hope so, because I am not doing that thing where I bet money I’ll stop eating Cool Ranch Doritos.