Should We Always Be Trying To Improve Ourselves?

Wesley Owens
5 min readAug 14, 2020

Digging into the wild world of self-improvement

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

It’s another bright morning in Arizona, and the hot sun is just starting to appear above the palms hovering over my backyard.

I’m sitting here in a swing and watching the light creep across the yard. Having been stuck in quarantine mode for a few months now, I, like many others, am feeling cooped up, worn out, and generally uninspired.

More than anything, I don’t feel like my life is moving forward. Even though I try to be productive, not leaving the house for long stretches of time makes me feel stale and stagnant.

Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly invested in this idea of “productivity,” something that I’m sure most Medium readers have been inundated with in great measure.

The concept of productivity, in my own mind at least, seems to pivot on the notion that, if only I could focus more, eat healthier, or get my mind right, I’d unlock the secret power of my brain, and be more successful as a result.

In a capitalistic society, the idea of working hard towards individual productivity is implanted in our brains. That quixotic sense of fulfillment and success we’re aiming at with our daily grinds and hustle culture lifestyle, meanwhile seems to float somewhere right past our fingertips.

It’s no wonder that a good chunk of us are fighting tooth and nail for self improvement and our individual “brands.” More than anything, we want those gold-standard promotions, that independently wealthy lifestyle, or just to merely feel good about ourselves for one day.

Enter the snake oil salesman of productivity, clamoring for money by promising you that success is only being hindered by your own lackluster brain, your ill-trained grey matter that just isn’t doing the job. These charlatans pry into our self-doubt and leverage it to sell us supplements and “hacks” that promise, in short, a better “us.”

And why wouldn’t we at least try? Because if we don’t, we’re labeled a loser, someone who isn’t deserving to get that promotion, or win over that romantic interest, or get the prize at the end of the rat race.

Wesley Owens

I’m a writer and designer living in California, and creator of Love. The Magazine.