Our world has an ego problem. This inflated sense of superiority and entitlement. The idea of self improvement only makes this problem worse. Dont strive to improve your self, work to lose your sense of self. The true self is no self. Im not against development or growth, just the wrong kind of development and growth. Self improvement is a start; Its good to want to better oneself, and healthy selfishness is good to start. Dont neglect yourself. The best way to help others is to help yourself first. But the idea of self improvement is wrong in that its incredibly limited, and too for lack of a better word, selfish.
Improve yourself to get healthy, balanced, not to build yourself up to satisfy your ego, boost your own sense of importance and significance, and make you feel better about yourself. Look how strong, great, successful, fit I am. Lose this. Instead focus on improvement for improvements sake. Confidence is important to build, but dont get caught up in your pride. Practice humility. Do something because you are genuinely interested or passionate about it, not for the benefits you think it ought to bring. If I just do this then I will get the promotion, the girl, the car. Stop seeking pleasure, rewards, its juvenile. Virtue is reward enough. Build others up! Through generosity, compassion, kindness, love.
People that are aim to improve their ego are essentially building up their own idea of themselves because it provides comfort and something to cling to. It provides a false sense of security by saying look at me and what I accomplished! Stop clinging. The more people accomplish and show off about it, the more needy they are. Dont be jealous of people more successful than you. See them as needier than you. Im needy, and trying to be less so.
Focus on un-self improvement. What I mean by this is twofold. It involves re-defining improvement from advancement to more shedding your sense of self, and also the idea of practicing selfless behavior. Its similar to altruism in that the focus is on others more than yourself. Practice being helpful, generous, compassionate to those in need through your deeds. Not out of pity, but out of love, honest concern, and because it is the right thing to do. Be careful of the same selfish trap of altruism. Altruism is self-interested. We serve ourselves by serving others. Dont be altruistic and expect something in return. We should feel good when we help others, but make sure youre not making the same mistake boosting your ego in how altruistic you are. If you brag about how altruistic you are, how much you donate, youre not acting genuinely altruistically. Be anonymously altruistic.
For me, being altruistic is about empathy. When I see someone homeless or in need of help, I feel their hunger or sadness and want to help because I know what its like to be homeless and down on your luck. Make it a habit to help. If you have spare change, some leftover food, share it because you can. If you dont have that, sit down and have a 20 second conversation with them. Theyre people in need no different than you or I. Dont pat yourself on the back. Its the empathy that should motivate us to help, not pity or feeling a sense of obligation. And if it is only self interest either way, Id rather at least selfishly help someone besides myself through contribution rather than ego and entitlement.