“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner
There is a special moment in the life of each one wherein he makes the internal decision to be better than his present self. This moment may come once in a lifetime or it may repeat itself frequently in the life of the individual. Some make eternal progress their modus operandi while others are content to stay where and how they are for as long as possible.
Self-improvement may be catalyzed by extrinsic factors, for example, by someone who says or does something that inspires you, but self-improvement is actually a strictly internal matter. It’s like the old joke: “How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: One. But the lightbulb has to want to change.” The decision to be better than yourself is one that you make internally. It is an agreement between mind and heart, or perhaps better put, an alignment of mind and heart which permits a focused sense of will to take you in a new direction.
Every change of mind requires a corresponding change in heart. One without the other is an unstable state. This is why it is hard to motivate yourself into a new state of being. When motivation is fueled by a superficial desire to be different – better, thinner, happier, etc. – and not backed by an underlying change in orientation at the level of the heart (i.e. bedrock beliefs about life), chances are that the motivation will fizzle out before the new state sets in.
To be better than yourself on a regular basis, you have to believe at some level in the possibility of eternal progress. You have to see past, or through, the ubiquitous conviction that life is entropic and that efforts to bring order out of chaos are futile. You have to set a habit of overcoming, one that allows you to apply every ounce of your will to upward, ordering movement.