How to Improve Yourself Right NOW (and Why) – Prof. Jordan Peterson

What could you do to improve yourself?Well, let’s step one step backwards. The first question might be: Why should you even bother improving yourself?And I think the answer to that is something likeso you don’t suffer anymore stupidly than you have to. And maybe so others don’t have to either. It’s something like that. You know, like, there is a real adjunction at the bottom of it. It’s not some casual self-help doctrine,it’s that if you don’t organize yourself properly: you’ll pay for it!And in a big way. And so will the people around you. And you can say: ‘Well, I don’t care about that!’but that’s actually not true, you actually DO care about that. Because if you’re in pain you will care about it. And so you DO care about it even if it’s just that negative way, you know. It’s very rare that you can find someone who is in excruciating pain who would ever say’Well, it would be no better if I was out of this!’This sort of pain is one of those things that brings the idea that it would be betterif it didn’t exist along with it. It’s incontrovertible. So you get your act together so that there isn’t any more stupid pain around you that necessary. So then the question might be: how would you go about getting your act together?And the answer to that — and this is a phenomenological idea, too -it’s something like: Look around for something that bothers youand see if you can fix it. So now you think, well. . . Let’s say you go into. . . You can do this in a room, it’s quite fun to do it. Just when you’re sitting in a room – maybe your bedroom -you can sit there and just sort of meditate on it and think:’Okay, if I wanted to spend ten minutes making this room better,what would I have to do?’And you have to ask yourself that. It’s not a command, it’s like a genuine question. And things will pop out in the room likethere’s a stack of papers over there that’s kind of bugging youand you know that maybe a little order there would be a good thing. There’s some rubbish behind your computer monitor that you haven’t attended to for like six months. The room would be slightly better if it was a little less dusty and the cables weren’t all tangled up the same way. If you allow yourself just to consider the expanse in which you exist at that momentthere will be all sorts of things that pop out in it that you could just fix. And you know I might say well, if you were coming to see me for psychotherapythe easiest thing for us to do first would just be to get you to organize your roomYou think: ‘Well, is that psychotherapy?’And the answer is: it depends on how you conceive the limits of your being. And I would say: start where you can start!You know, if something announces itself to you- which is a strange way of thinking about it -as ‘in need of repair’ that you COULD repairthen, hey! Fix it!You fix a hundred things like that, your life will be a lot different. Now, I often tell people too: fix the things you repeat every day. Because people tend to think of those as trivial. You get up, you brush your teeth, you have your breakfast. . . You have your routines that you go through every day. Those probably constitute fifty percent of your life!And people think: ‘They are mundane, I don’t need to pay attention to them. ‘No, no, that’s exactly wrong. The things you do every day: those are the most important things you do. Hands down, all you have to do is do the arithmetic. You figured out right away. So, a hundred adjustments to your broader domain of beingand there’s a lot less rubbish around a lot fewer traps for you to step into. And so that’s in keeping with Jung’s idea about erasing the this. . . Once you got your mind and your emotions together and once you’re acting that out,then you can extend what you are willing to consider your selfand start fixing up the things that are part of your broader extend. Now, sometimes you don’t know how to do that. Imagine you are walking down blur street andthere is this guy who is alcoholic and schizophrenic and has been on the streets for ten years. He sort of stumbles towards you and incoherently mutters something. That’s a problem!And it would be good if you could fix it but you haven’t got a clue about how to fix THAT. You just walk around that and go find something that you could fixbecause if you muck about in that,not only is it unlikely that you’ll help that person,it’s VERY likely that you’ll get hurt yourself!Just because you’re experiencing things announce themselves as in need of repairdoesn’t mean that it’s YOU right then and there that should repair them. You have to have some humility. You don’t walk up to a helicopter that isn’t working and just start tinkering away with it. You have to stay within your domain of competencebut most of the time, if people look at their lives. . . You know -it’s a very interesting thing to do. I like the idea of the room because you can do that at the drop of a hat. Go back to where you live and sit down and think: ‘Okay,I’m gonna make this place better for half an hour – what should I do?’You have to ASK and things will just pop up like madand it’s partly because your mind is a very strange thing and as soon as you give it an aim- a genuine aim – it’ll reconfigure the world in keeping with that aim. That’s actually how you see to begin with. So if you set it a task. . . You have to be genuine about itwhich is why you have to bring your thoughts and emotions togetherand then you have to get them in your body so you’re acting consistently. You have to be genuine about the aimbut once you aim the world will reconfigure itself around that aim, which is very strange. It’s technically true!The best example of that- you have all seen this video where you watch the basketballs being tossed back and forthbetween members of the white team versus the black teamand while you are doing that a gorilla walks up into the middle of the video and you don’t see it. If you thought about that experiment for about five years, that would be about the right amount of timeto spend thinking about it. Because what it shows you is that you see what you aim at. And that – man! – if you can get one thing through your head as a consequence of even being in universityTHAT would be a good one: You see what you aim at. And so, because one inference you might draw from that is: Be careful what you aim at!Right? What you aim at determines the way the world manifests itself to youSo if the world is manifesting itself in a very negative wayone thing to ask is: Are you aiming at the right thing?You know I’m not trying to reduce everybody’s problems to an improper aim. People get cut off at the knees for all sorts of reasons. They get sick, they have accidents. There’s a random element to being, that’s for sure, but -You don’t want to take anything, even that particular phrase, too farYou want to bind it with the fact that random things do happen to people. But it’s still a great thing to ask.

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