Throwing in the towel on self-improvement

I gotta be me…apparently…

Most of us are unhappy with some aspect of our personality.

That seems a pretty normal way to be because thinking you’re perfect probably means people actually consider you the south end of a northbound horse and would rather spend an hour with their dentist than 15 minutes talking to you at a cocktail party.

Perfect people don’t exist and anyone that thinks they’ve achieved perfection tends to be a pain in the neck or a somewhat lower location.

So let’s start with that premise: normal people tend to be at least a bit unhappy with themselves and what they do and how they act and that means most of us would like to be someone better.

So how do you do that?

Two schools of self-improvement thought

When it comes to self-improvement there seems to be two schools of thought:

1. You suck and there is a long list of things you need to change in order to be a salvageable human being. Or…

2. You need to learn to accept yourself.

These pieces of advice seem to be contradictory because if I’m any good at Number 2 there would be no need for Number 1.

Trust me, I’ve tried Number 1 over and over again, but just keep coming back to all my old bad habits. After a while you start to think maybe this is just what I am and everyone – including me – needs to deal with it.

It’s kinda like those guys who buy a Honda Civic, add some nice rims, pinstripes and a spoiler on the back and you want to tell them, “Hey, underneath all that crap it’s still a Honda Civic.” Maybe I’m working with a Honda Civic-level personality and adding flames to the paint job won’t change a thing.

So maybe it’s time to accept that and so should the friends who give me advice: I ain’t getting any better so stop trying.

I can solve all your problems and not one of mine

People whose kids are currently on Death Row have absolutely no problem telling you how to raise yours. People who have three divorces are more than willing to dispense advice on marriage. People who can’t see their own sexual organs without the use of a mirror are happy to comment on your eating habits.

So how is it we can solve everybody else’s problems and not our own?

Simple.

When we look at other people’s problems we’re totally logically because we won’t have to follow any of our own advice; when we look at our own problems we become emotional and think of all kinds of reasons to not do what we know we should.

We’re a lot more logical when we don’t give a damn and that brings me to the next portion of our program.

I’m a better person when I don’t care

It seems to me I have two distinct personalities:

A. The guy I am when I’m just being me and don’t care what anybody thinks…

B. The guy I try to be when I want someone to like me.

Turns out guy B. sucks.

He’s a phony who says and does a whole lot of stupid shit in a desperate attempt to impress someone.

Guy A. is much more logical and will tell you to go to hell in a heartbeat because he doesn’t care what you think. Weirdly enough people seem to like that guy way better…what you see is what you get. At least Guy A. is honest and you know where you stand with him.

Once upon a time in Hollywood…and everywhere else

If you haven’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie maybe you should stop reading now, although I don’t intend to give away the plot.

Your call.

Assuming you’re still reading: Leonardo DiCaprio plays an actor and Brad Pitt plays his stuntman and best friend.

After I watched “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with my son Paul, he made the astute observation that Brad Pitt’s character was the moral center of the movie. He was a man with a set of standards that he followed despite what anybody else thought. Leo’s character had no idea who he was or what he wanted because his character was overly concerned with what everybody else thought of him.

When we base what we do on what we think other people want we can wind up in some pretty strange places. First of all, what people want constantly changes so you’re chasing a feather in a hurricane. Base your career on what’s trending on social media and you lose all sense of you and what you want and where you intended to go in the first place.

I once heard a very smart guy talk about government back when news was spread by horseback and how that gave ideas a chance to work or fail before politicians heard back from the public.

Now a politician can’t finish a speech before people are reacting on Twitter and his or her advisors are passing notes telling the politician that what they’re saying isn’t playing well in Iowa and maybe they should change horses in the middle of the stream.

Trying to figure out what the audience wants and then giving it to them will make you crazy. Just do what you want and let the audience find you and if it turns out there is no audience for that at least you’re doing what you like.

Everybody has a talent…mine’s giving up

Considering the number of divorces in my immediate family it’s pretty clear I come from a long line of quitters. So having tried to be a better person for most of my life and failing, I’m now officially giving up. Forget Oprah and Dr. Phil, my new role model is Popeye:

“I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.”

Trust me: I’d be a better person if I had any evidence that it was possible, but after six decades of trying to be something else I’m still the same guy. So if you want to ride along with me we’ll be traveling in a Honda Civic.

But at least it won’t have flames on it.