Psychology Self Improvement

If you type the words 'psychology self improvement' into a search engine, you will likely come up with a list of websites that often discuss...

1) the relationship and similarities between psychology and self-improvement.

2) certain psychological methods and terminologies used in the field of self improvement.

3) the psychology of what makes self improvement such a popular topic.

Here is what I have found regarding the above 3 points (with my own amazingly astute added notes too, of course)...

1 - The Relationship Between Psychology And Self Improvement

Self improvement, when taught academically, is referred to as Positive Psychology.

Tal Ben-Shahar was a professor at Harvard, where he lectured on positive psychology, and, as on many other campuses, it was one of the most popular classes. In an interview, he said he believes this to be the case because 'for the first time we have a science of happiness'.

I agree.

I would add also, however:

...and the REASON people are attracted to a 'science of happiness' is because most people want to be as happy as they can be, while others simply want to be happy, and so taking a course on the subject would obviously be very useful to many.

Further to that, I think a sizeable portion of people also see how vast a quantity of the population is often more unhappy than not, so would like to be part of a movement involved in aiding so many others. Speaking from personal experience, I know that a great majority of friends and colleagues over the years have put on a calm and coping face in public (in regards to their mental well-being) but have generally had many negative psychological issues burning inside, which could be dealt with by incorporating into their lives certain relatively straight-forward methodologies, even if positive results wouldn't show overnight.

Historically, the most visible roots of positive psychology seem to date back to the psychologist Abraham Maslow and his humanistic psychology. I won't speak about him or his techniques on the topic of positive psychology, however, as all this information can be viewed quite easily in many other places, both online and offline.

It is my opinion that often a self improvement course and a certain psychological practice are almost entirely the same; it's just that one methodology has been endorsed academically while the other one hasn't, meaning that one is approved as being more factual in nature than the other one. That said, while I studied psychology, I often found information pertaining to 'self improvement' to often NOT be as clearly stated as it was by other non-academic people. So my theory, often in regards to advice of a 'self help nature' is to try out in your own life whatever makes the most sense to you (as you've additionally hopefully looked at an assortment of ideas concerning the matter) regardless of the source. And if a method of self improvement or positive psychology doesn't work out positively for you, then look again. Simple.

In other words: there is much self improvement advice out there that is wishy-washy and thus totally unhelpful, but I've found the same to often be true too in regards to certain psychology modules taught in universities. So 'shop around' before buying into any philosophy or method, be it professional or otherwise.

2 - Certain Psychology Terms Used In The Field Of Self Improvement

- Cognitive Reframing: This procedure allows a person to alter their feelings, which in turn alters their perceptions of the world (and of their own personal world) by first SIMPLY changing their thoughts. And when I say 'simply', I mean that the idea of the procedure is simple to grasp, even if the procedure itself isn't always.

- Defence Mechanism: Humans naturally cope with stresses and failures by UNCONSCIOUSLY creating defence mechanisms. There are four levels of Defence Mechanisms, where the lower ones are potentially destructive to oneself and others, and the higher ones are - to a degree - helpful to maintaining one's positive mental health. At level one, an example of a Defence Mechanism might be 'denial', where a person refuses to accept a reality as being the truth because it is too much to cope with; at level four, an example of a Defence Mechanism might be 'Humour', where a person might make light of a stressful situation so as to handle it more calmly.

- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): This procedure allows people to 'reprogram' themselves by modelling their thinking and behaviours against people who have been successful in various different ways in their own lives.

- Selective Perception: This procedure involves ensuring a person only takes from their environment that which is beneficial to their mental health and self-growth ('healing' and 'strengthening' yourself, in other words).

- Self Criticism: This procedure allows people to assess their strengths and weaknesses honestly (even though it can quite often be difficult to admit to certain short-comings) so as to then improve upon strengths and reduce weaknesses as much as possible.

- Self Efficacy: This is when a person builds their own self-esteem up so greatly that, in believing they are capable of doing almost anything, they find they generally ULTIMATELY can, regardless of what skills or talents might be originally required to carry out said goal or to achieve said level of expertise. Even though this isn't the quotes page, here's a nifty line by Tina Fey (when accepting an Emmy) who phrased the idea of Self Efficacy brilliantly because she quite simply, but clearly, describes the idea of the practice with regards to her own life... 'I want to thank my parents for giving me confidence DISPROPORTIONATE to my looks and abilities, which is what all parents should do'.

3 - The Psychology Of What Makes Self Improvement So Popular

Self improvement, I think, is so incredibly popular a topic because, more and more, people are becoming aware that they don't have to be unhappy in whatever aspect (or aspects) of their life in which they are unhappy. There is a realization that the answers to so many issues regarding mental health and mental development are available (and often in a free capacity) from many sources, and people are becoming more eager to take advantage of this, which - obviously - is fantastic!

Unfortunately I feel that self improvement is an area that lies somewhere between science (psychology and psychiatry) and pseudo-science.

Pseudo-science, in case you don't know the definition of the word, means 'a false science' and can refer to any number of practices that the scientific community doesn't advocate as being legitimate science because it cannot, in good conscience, do so.

Examples of pseudo-science include astrology and dowsing, and almost any other 'science' which cannot be tested, and which does not undergo peer reviews, and which is not based on facts and observations.

What I notice about pseudo-sciences is that they are often regarded as being true (or at least partly based in truth) merely because there's a large enough audience of people out there who so greatly WISH them to be true, and therefore these same people support them wholeheartedly no matter how obviously false they may actually be.

That said, the field of self improvement incorporates many plausibly legitimate techniques to help people be the best they can be, but also unfortunately incorporates techniques that are quite likely false, having been created to very possibly make certain people some money in preaching these techniques in question. But when the true and the false techniques are all mixed together, it makes it hard for the field of self improvement as a whole to gain a full academic recognition, which is truly a shame, albeit understandable.

Of the self improvement techniques that do seem 'very likely' to be truly beneficial in nature, however, they are still not entirely scientifically provable theories. Most of self improvement, therefore, is not a science. If anything, it's a science in its infancy, as I do OBVIOUSLY believe many self improvement methods work; but it's not a science because where an aspirin will almost always cure the common person of a headache, self improvement doesn't work as often, or it doesn't always work in the same way for everyone, or it doesn't always work so effectively that one might know for a fact that it is indeed the reason for one's life becoming better in some respect. Thus many people have different methods (and sometimes totally opposing methods) apropos how to fix elements of the self through self improvement.

In conclusion: I feel very strongly that self improvement is one of the most important fields of study in this world, because we humans dominate this planet so entirely in so many ways that everything therefore starts in the core of our beings.

When we all, as individuals, are content and caring towards ourselves, we will then become sincerely caring towards others, and ultimately unconditionally caring to the Earth as a whole, meaning we will then be able to more accurately put right such issues as poverty and crime and the incredible wasting of our natural resources, etc.

Without having any feasible way to prove it, I suspect that if schools were to help young people along just that much more than they currently do in improving their mental health (their confidence, their appreciation of life, their awareness of their many potentials) then the world would start 'coming right' just that much more, and just that much more quickly.


* Happiness VS Contentment

* Contributors And Feeders

* The Mind

* Self Improvement That DOESN'T Work

* Finding Reliable Sources