"Self-Improvement" or self-help is a massive industry designed to guide people to improve themselves. However, people who focus on self-improvement think they are going somewhere but in fact they are only running in circles. Self-improvement is fundamentally avoidance of action, and procrastination of moving in the direction of personal inclinations.
Men are the biggest consumers of self-improvement industry because almost all men think something is wrong about them. The standard advice of the industry is reasonable and sounds good on paper: take care of your health, exercise, read great books, learn something new or study how to "hack" your brain, body or life. A few even go in depth teaching how to be more masculine, charming or a specific kind of person with a specific kind of behavior.
Nothing is good or bad by itself; and nothing can be considered universally beneficial for someone. There are no universal rules regarding how one should live his life. What is good for someone is always dependent upon the circumstances he is in and the body he was born with. The only universal rule that exists is to live in a way the person feels the best to suit his own life - what makes him happy.
An aspiring boxer who loves boxing shouldn't be focusing on reading great books or wasting time learning languages in order to improve his cognitive skills - he should be vigorously training in the gym. If becoming a boxing champion is what he really wants, his life should revolve around boxing - not what the other people want him to be "improved" for.
A circus performer whose whole profession relies on him being a fat guy shouldn't be eating extremely healthy and exercising in a gym. If being the fat guy of circus is where he is the best at and he loves it, the general self- improvement advice wouldn't improve him at all. Maybe he could be better at something else, but only the person itself know what he ought to be.
The actor Jonah Hill is considered a very feminine man and he is also obese. Many men think Jonah Hill is not the way a man should be without realizing that the reason why Jonah Hill is one of the most successful actors in the world, is because he is the way he is. It is not just the great talent of acting that he has, but his overall appeal as a person. He has found success by being less masculine.
It goes even crazier. Some people fulfill their potential by being extremely dumb, physically retarded or over the top unreasonable. Honey Boo Boo and her family probably fulfilled their potential by being something completely extraordinary. Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street) became legendary by becoming filthy rich through shady methods and then telling how he did it. Many artists from Queen to Beatles have created great songs thanks to being under influence of drugs.
The shoes a person walks thousands of miles with, are his own and fit perfectly only that one person. Most likely the person will take care of his health, exercise and maybe read a book or two - but he is not doing anything because of an arbitrary concept of improving himself. A successful person does the necessary things which are helpful in moving into the direction of his personal inclinations. He is not improving himself, he is focusing on things that count. When the circumstances of his life change, the focus of his actions change along with it.
When a person doesn't know what to do, he focuses on improving himself so he can be ready for his life in the future that never arrives. He doesn't want to fail at living life, so in order to live a successful life, he listen to the advice of other people regarding how one's life should be lived. The person doesn't feel he is enough, so in order to become a proper person, he needs to improve himself in order to feel completely who he already is.
These people want to improve their value in life, relationships and business. The crazy ones willingly isolate themselves completely from the world in order to return as an "improved person". Then, when they return, some things changed but they never did and majority of the effort was wasted. Lack of self- acceptance and self-confidence pushes them to improve, improve and improve but the moment when someone has "made it" never arrives. When it actually does, it is because the person just decided to end it and say: "I am done.". When it is done, the person is reborn.
People who focus on self-improvement think that when they are this and that, they are ready to take action - but in reality they are just postponing their life and running away from their fears. Self-improvement is preparation and for the most part preparation is avoidance of action. Self-improvement without taking action is staying inside one's comfort zone - lots of things are done and improved but everything is still happening inside one's comfort zone.
There are not even things such as learning and improving. There are only lessons and epiphanies, which doesn't happen willingly - they come from an unexpected angle when a person least expects it. The unexpected nature means they happen outside of the person's comfort zone while he is facing the unknown and living life which goes against his reason and logic. He is not trying to live life, he is just living life. Learning and improving imply one can use his reason and logic to reach the next level - but using reason and logic is staying inside your limitations, not moving outside of them.
Life doesn't feel complete in the moment so in order to escape the feeling of unworthiness, focusing on self-improvement gives a temporary relief and illusion that the person is actually moving somewhere. When there is a fear of taking tangible action, self-improvement sounds good on paper and gives something to cling to. In reality, the person is running in circles thinking he is going somewhere but no matter how fast he runs, he still remains in his place.
The problem with self-improvement is that there is no clear point B. There is a fuzzy shadow of a destination but nothing is clear. If it was clear, there would be no point for self-improvement at all. Self-improvement is arbitrarily decided by the person itself but the destination never remains - the finishing line is continuously running away. No matter how fast the person runs, the line is never reached. Both the means and the end of self-improvement is the concept of self-improvement, which doesn't physically exist. The person is chasing an idea.
Giving advice how to get from point A to B is legit advice, but how can someone else, who doesn't even know the person, possibly know how to live someone else's life? How can anyone know the person who is giving guidance knows how to live his own life? What makes a person think someone else's shoe fits his feet? The ugly truth about life is that no one really knows what is going on. The old guy doesn't know. The scientist doesn't know. Dalai Lama doesn't know. Socrates doesn't know, which he even said it by himself.
Self-improvement is not even about the person who practices it. Rather, someone else is selling his own life to other people in order to profit out of their insecurities. Self-improvement is selling snake oil in a form of virtual ideas and concepts. The ones who are the best at it don't even realize that they are selling their personal Truth as the universal truth. A few find success by reading a book per day because that's their selling point to fulfill their own potential. They are not finding success from reading a book per day but by reading a book per day and then telling how beneficial it is for everyone else.
The ones who do not know how to live their own life, listen to the people who have enough self-belief to think they do. The ones who search, find what they think they are looking for from someone else. If a person thinks he can reprogram his brain, then someone else is already reprogramming him. Mind is just running tricks on him and he only has an illusion of personal superiority. The person is letting someone else define him, instead of him defining the world he lives in.
The person following the advice of everyone else thinks he is the one who is doing the decisions but in reality he is only imitating someone else's life. Imitating is easy because it doesn't take any guts - someone already lived and tested the life once. The problem with imitating is that it is never as good as the real deal; and what worked in the past, might not work in the present or the future. Moreover, the imitator always lacks the most essential ingredient: originality. How to find it? Stop asking.