Ludwig Von Wittgenstein “Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.”
The only constant in our lives is change, for better or worse. Every day we are faced with the choice to evolve or accept the fate of stagnation. While seemingly straightforward in nature, especially prior to the distractions presented in today’s world (technology, electronics, marketing), staying focused on the goal of improving oneself daily is a challenge. As vague as the notion of “improving daily” might seem, there are a few areas I believe are worth focusing on, for the modern day man or woman, in order to live the best life we are capable of. They are as follows:
Physical health – There is an undeniable beauty that accompanies a robust and healthy body. The ancient Greeks spoke frequently about the importance of discovering one’s own physical strength and physique, both a science and art form. Many overlook the satisfaction that accompanies a state of good health. The importance of vitality relates back to when we were children who ran around with our friends, while engaging in one of the most therapeutic forms of learning which is play. Being able to run, jump, swim and express yourself physically, is a critical component of our health or even being human. Unfortunately adequate use of this gift is eroding in our society, as our minds and virtues become more adapted to indulgent and sedentary lifestyles. I have two parents nearing the age of seventy who are both incredibly active and enjoying their life as grandparents along with various hobbies (hiking, BJJ, gardening, music) therefore I can conclude, with great certainty, that the benefits of having good health are worth the effort.
Financial health – This nowadays represents the security you offer to your family, a potential mate or even just yourself. Without it many of life’s pleasure are unavailable to you. Fine food, travel, a good home, education and many of life’s other experiences are all made possible through currency. This requires dedication, persistence and the lack of fear to get your hands dirty and eat crow or live frugally for many years as you navigate the path towards fiscal stability. Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People introduces the concept of us as humans going through stages of codependence to independence to finally interdependence. The correlation we can make is that in our youth, financial stability is less important as we have someone (parents, guardians, foster system) to take care of us. As we mature, not only do we need to take care of ourselves but possibly others (spouse, kids, loser family member) who need our support. It’s critical to understand that while your need for money and generating profit is low during your state of codependency, it affords you the opportunity to develop the skills that will be used later in life to avoid worrying about your next meal or finding a potential mate.
Emotional health – Often overlooked, our state of being and how we deal internally with life’s external problems can relate greatly to how our life turns out. It affects what sort of relationships we have, who they are with along with the life span of the relationship. As humans, we all share a desire for autonomy, the need to feel loved and respected, as well as be apart of something greater than ourselves. When these psychological truths are undermined, our health suffers. This is one of the reasons the Jiu Jitsu community can be such a good place for so many people. It offers friendship and camaraderie, as well as the greater mission of improving the world around us by bettering ourselves.
One might ask, how could bettering myself impact the world? As philosopher Ludwig Von Wittgenstein said, it starts with improving yourself. You at your best is enough to create a ripple effect of good in the lives of many around you. By having good health you inspire and physically contribute to the lives of your family and community. By creating wealth, you can engage in acts of charity. By maintaining an emotionally sound state you offer motivation, inspiration and positivity to everyone around you. Before you begin change the world, you must first change yourself.