Friday, February 3, 2012

A "New and Improved" Post

To read the first part of this article click here.

I think one of the greatest barriers to living a happy and fulfilled life is our yearning for the "new and improved." This 2.0-fixation can happen at a materialistic level, when we covet for upgraded versions of the stuff we possess. Or it can happen at a psychological level, when we aspire to transform ourselves. When it comes to upgrading of our material stuff, it's not very difficult to see how such yearning never really satisfies us. New products don't satisfy us for long, and we again start looking for newer avatars. However, when it comes to our quest for a "new and improved" self, it is difficult to visualize any negative impact. What can be possibly wrong with a pursuit of personal-improvement and self-transformation? Nothing, except that we often assume that successful personal-improvement and self-transformation are the same thing.

Research shows that overweight individuals, when undertaking the challenge of weight loss, often believe that successful weight loss will completely transform their lives. For example, they may believe that successful weight loss will help them get attractive romantic partners and coveted promotions. Well, what's wrong if such beliefs motivate them to diet and exercise regularly? The problem is that such expectations are a little chimerical, if not completely unreasonable. Sure, losing excess weight may increase our physical attractiveness to a certain extent, but it doesn't really change all the other variables that influence mating behavior and promotion decisions. In other words, it's futile to hope that some or even a major improvement in our lives will transform our lives. It rarely ever happens. No wonder, studies have reported that about a third of people in weight loss programs regain their lost weight within a year, two-thirds within three years, and close to 90% withing five years. I surmise they slide back to their original weights because they realize that a change in the position of the needle on a weighing machine doesn't really change life. So, there is no motivation to put the effort required to maintain the lost weight.

My point is that our personal improvements do not necessarily give us a new life. Self-help gurus may sell us their books by affirming that implementation of their programs and procedures will lead to complete transformation of our lives, but in reality we achieve nothing beyond some modest improvements. In the language of consumerism, we continue to stay the same 1.0 version, even as we delude ourselves and others that we are the "new and improved" 2.0.

To be continued...


  1. Agree....the only real transformation which can take place, to evolve human's to the superhuman state(v2.0), is in our state of awareness, not material or physical changes ,as it is clearly proved with the research studies.
    This is the great illusion that the seers have told us to break free from.But alas very few huamn beings are wise enough and want to break free of the unhappy state of affairs.....

    The starting point to change your awareness is to have the purest heartfelt desire to be liberated and Universe will just go out of the way to create conditions, bring in people ... justto prove to you that you have taken the right decision .....

    1. Thank you for your comment. That's a very interesting angle that you bring up to the discussion of self-improvement and change. It reminded me of the following lines by the poet Iqbal:
      Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle,
      Khuda bande se ye poche bata teri raza kya hai.

    2. I think I wrote the lines slightly wrong. The correct lines are:

      Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle,
      Khuda bande se khud pooche bata teri raza kya hai.