Whether it is your career, your hobbies, or your private life, how you describe yourself can alter how the world sees you. What is your description?
Describing what you do, while important, can be very difficult. While it is true that what you choose to spend your time and focus on helps define you as a human being, an accurate description isn’t easy.
In fact, the manner and vocabulary you use to talk about what you do has many risks. You might bore someone else if you choose to talk about it in a clinical way. It is possible you could alienate someone who doesn’t share a common frame of reference. You might even offend someone.
And yet, sharing who you are and what you do with others is the essence of being in a community. If you have an interest in and a passion for what you do, you can convey that to someone else. And in turn, they may convey the same thing to you, if you are lucky.
How do you describe what you do? Have you given advance thought to what you might say to someone else? And do you listen when others describe what they do?
Everyone is happy some of the time, and unhappy other times. On the whole, though, do you consider yourself to be a happy person?
How can you tell? It is tempting to simply count the number of times you are happy. If you are happy more often than not, you are a happy person.
But that can miss an important nuance: you may consider yourself to be a happy person, even if you are unhappy more than fifty percent of the time. Similarly, you might consider yourself to be an unhappy person, even if the happy times make up a majority.
And, of course, how you see yourself is not how others see you. You might consider yourself to be happy, but someone else might see you as unhappy, or vice versa. How important is how others see you, versus how you see yourself?
In addition, it’s not obvious that happiness should be the goal. There are many traits you might strive to have: to be kind, generous, thoughtful, helpful, and so on. Happiness may very well be an unintended (or intended) consequence of some of these.
Goal or not, you probably have a sense of your own happiness. Do you consider yourself a happy person? If you think about your day-to-day (or even hour-to-hour) life, is the answer still the same? And if you are an unhappy person, how might you bring a little more happiness into your life?
An important part of self-improvement is having a road map to follow. In other words, who do you want to be?
It is hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going. Thus, in order to get to the place you want to go to — that is, the person you want to be — it is crucial to know in advance who that is.
Maybe you feel it best to be a good partner, or parent (or grandparent), or maybe a good employee. You might want to be the kind of person who reads every day, or someone who sees the world. The possibilities are nearly endless.
One way to determine which traits you wish to have or to develop is to look for role models. If there are people around you who behave the way you want to behave, try to figure out what it is that helped them get there. You may even want to ask them.
There are also many books extolling one virtue or another. You may want to read up on someone you admire, to see what makes them tick. How do they lead a creative life, or make money, or increase empathy, or whatever you wish to emulate?
Once you decide on what you wish to improve, there is the secondary task of actually doing it. If you think that, for example, punctuality is important, ask yourself: how can I be more punctual?
Reaching your potential, and becoming the person you desire to be requires that you put some thought (and eventually some planning) in place. Who do you want to be?