Why You Can’t ‘Self-Help’ Your Way To Happiness

from Michael Mamas on The Huffington Post
Thirty years ago, I went to see a very old and highly revered Chinese doctor. One of the first things he said to me was, “I don’t deal with disease; I deal with health.” In Western culture, self-help is often talked about as though it offers cures to what is inherently wrong with you. But if we take a cue from the Eastern approach, we can more effectively deal with our physical, psychological, and spiritual health.
The essence of true self-improvement relates to homeostasis, the self-regulating process by which we tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions in the most life-supporting way. This self-regulation is the source of true health. Everyone knows that if you cut your finger, an inner homeostatic intelligence heals the cut. Our job is to simply facilitate the process by keeping the cut clean and protected.
Conventional approaches to self-help certainly have their value. However, where they fall short is in not sufficiently appreciating that the same homeostatic processes apply to personal and spiritual growth. Instead they tend to focus on fixing external factors, which do not get to the root of the problem.
The Bible reminds us that the “the Kingdom of Heaven dwells within.” In other words, our inner essence is Divine. Humans have evolved to the point where we are able to be conscious on multiple levels of existence, from the physical to the psychoenergetic all the way to the transcendental level. Personal improvement then is about facilitating the emergence of our Divine essence (our Self) so that it permeates and integrates all levels of our life. Let’s first take a look at some of the conventional approaches to self-improvement, and why they may be holding us back from happiness:
1. Preconceived notions We all have preconceived notions of what the better and happier version of ourselves will look like. We strive to conform to those notions in the name of personal development. The problem with those notions is they are not at all based upon who we truly are deep inside. They are essentially a mirage, an unreachable star. Even if we do conform to them to some degree, we’re contorting ourselves, not freeing ourselves to live our natural state. Or as Swami Muktananda put it: “If you spend your life on self-improvement, all you have to show for it at the end of your life is an improved self.”

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