Self-Improvement: The Road to Peace of Mind – Earl Nightingale
Experts in human psychology say you cannot change your whole personality. It represents a complex of too many long-established conditioned reﬂexes and behavior patterns – all those things that distinguish you as an individual. But regardless of the personality you have (and it’s probably better than you think), you can be content with yourself and your world.
The way to achieve this peace of mind is to develop yourself as fully as possible. Each of us has a ceiling of performance. This ceiling is high in the areas in which you excel and low in the areas in which you have little or no aptitude. And your peace of mind or dissatisfaction is directly related to how far you develop your own abilities and aptitudes. If you knew how to use yourself fully—completely—you would know complete contentment. If you ﬁnd yourself discontented, you should realize that it reflects your unfulﬁlled potential.
It might be a good idea to ask yourself just how much of your potential you think you are using. Would you say that you are operating at ﬁfty per cent of your total potential? Thirty per cent… seventy-ﬁve per cent… ten per cent? Estimate the ﬁgure. A man who spends Saturday at home working on a new patio, or in the garden, is usually a much happier, more cheerful and contented man on Saturday night than the man who spends the day on the sofa.
The person whose job makes him work close to his potential is a much happier person, as a rule, than the person doing a job that could be handled by a child, or a trained monkey. The tougher the job, the happier the person: this is only natural.
Contentment comes to us when we become conscious of our powers and our abilities. The wife working on a new recipe that calls on all of her skills as a cook is too busy to be discontented, or worried about herself and her ailments, real or imaginary.
It is important that each of us has a mental picture of the person he wants to become and that he tries day-by-day to come a little closer to ﬁtting that picture. This gets rid of boredom and ennui, just as it gets rid of feelings of inferiority caused by working too far below our potential. And when you are dissatisﬁed, it is a good idea not to blame the work you do, but rather, the way you do it. Almost any job can offer a challenge if we attempt to do it superbly.
So if you ﬁnd yourself discontented, examine the way in which you spend your days. The problem can usually be found there. Remember the great lines by Dean Briggs?
“Do your work. Not just your work and no more, but a little more for the lavishing’s sake. That little more which is worth all the rest. And if you doubt as you must; and if you suffer as you must—do your work. Put your heart into it and the sky will clear. And then out of your very doubt and suffering will be born the supreme joy of life.”
Sometimes we seem to be concentrating so hard on reducing the work week that we forget the joys and satisfactions of life found only in our work.
Be sure to visit Nightingale-Conant for more self-improvement recordings by Earl Nightingale and others.
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Also published on Medium.