Self, Improved: Better Living the Brooks Way

How I became calmer, less stressed, more organized and generally improved over a year and a half – and you can too  

Credit: Flickr/vermininc

I’ll have what she’s having: Turns out self-help can be pretty satisfying

It’s been a great run, but Self, Improved is saying a gentle goodnight

While it’s sad to say goodbye, there’s a certain satisfaction in being able to look back on what I learned, and how it can help anyone who wants to improve themselves.

Healthy Skepticism about Self-help

I’m the first to admit I started this blog with a healthy dose of skepticism. Was it really possible to improve my lot in life simply by correcting my own bad habits and adopting sparkling new ones?

Such a notion smacked of that particular brand of American self-improvement that’s spawned a magical belief in positive thinking and those dreadful seminars that claim to show you how to make a fortune in Florida real estate. Besides, if there was a secret to better living, surely it would have been codified and disseminated by now?

As a feminist, I’m also deeply suspicious of cultural expectations that we fix ourselves, rather than the world. Like the 99 per centers, I’m supposed to be safely at home, examining my skin for defects and my soul for blemishes, rather than questioning the systems that decree my inadequate self in need of fixing in the first place.

The Satisfactions of Self-improvement

Yes, but. There was no denying that I wasn’t happy with my personal status quo, and no revolution was going to fix that. If simple steps could make daily living more enjoyable, I’d have to be even more of a curmudgeon than usual to refuse to even try them.

I’ve blogged about the habits I kept, and I think you’ve heard more than enough about my favourite new productivity system. But for my last post, I wanted to let you know what happened when I did.

  • I got more spontaneous: Instead of feeling locked into routines, clarity about what I need to do makes it easier to get it done, then take off and have fun.
  • I got calmer: Turns out eliminating last-minute panics makes life surprisingly restful.
  • I’m satisfied: Having your life under control, whether it’s dealing with paperwork or knowing there’s soup in the freezer, is – to borrow the words of the ad – priceless.