The Paradox of Pursuing a Better Life

A guy crashing face down with his bike broken in the air. The paradox of becoming a better person.

Humans are a rare species of Mother Nature. In contrast to our fellow inhabitants on the globe, we constantly look for ways to improve and become a better person. This is why we are the dominant force on earth, and why we are responsible for a lot what is happening to nature. In general, we can say we’ve got it covered.

On the other hand, there are still people living in extreme poverty and there is still a ton of shit that needs to be fixed. For these parts of the world, there is still a long road ahead to reach a threshold point, where it’s safe to say all is well, but for many parts of the world, it’s all gravy.

When the basics are covered, you can focus on getting down to the nitty-gritty and double down on certain aspects of your life. Whether it be health, wealth, spirituality, or whatever, you are constantly searching for ways to become a better person. Good for us because we came a long way. 

So far, so good, right? Well, maybe not.

If everyone is becoming a better person, we should be living in a world filled with Supermen and Superwomen. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that’s not the case. So, what happened to the Superhumans in progress?

Bigger, better, faster, stronger

In summary, the American Dream translates to: Bigger, better, faster, stronger. To have a better life, you have to become a better person so you are able to manifest whatever it is you want.

Let’s define better for a moment to put things in perspective: In a nutshell, becoming a better person should be about equalizing the beneficial parts of your being and cutting out the harmful parts, leading to being a more colorful, enjoyable person, who feels better, does better, and is more at balance. We learn and do new things that help us on our journey.

When you genuinely become a better person, you have a positive effect on your surroundings, and eventually on the world. But, on many occasions, this doesn’t happen. We might have an effect on our surroundings, but it isn’t a very good one.

In search of becoming a better person, we become the worst: The skinny kid who wants a great physique becomes obsessed with becoming bigger reaches for steroids and other enhancers and jeopardizes his health. The dad who wants to provide for his family and wants to be able to give them anything they want works 90 hours a week and becomes a stressed asshole completely detached from his family. The workaholic that wants to find himself and goes on a spiritual journey and along the way loses touch with his normal life and becomes a crazy, homeless hippy, who just pretends to be spiritual.

They all started with their best intents at heart but got lost along the way. Somewhere along the way, they got disrupted. They got confused. They only focused on the end goal and forgot about the reason why they wanted to get there in the first place. This happens a lot, especially nowadays. But what makes it so hard to set a healthy goal and reach it?

Information changes the situation

Becoming a better person is hard work. It takes a goal, a plan, dedication, and consistency. It takes patience and trust in the process. When you have everything in place rest assured information is there to shit all over your plan.

Let’s say you want to be fit and decide to eat healthier. Good for you. You read some articles and decide juicing is the way to go. All these fruits and vegetables must be healthy. With great enthusiasm, you start juicing and it’s the best thing ever. You feel energized, and clear in the head. You are on a roll.

But now you read how all veggies and fruits are sprayed with chemicals that cause diseases. No worries, you go organic, after all, organic is the best. But then another article reaches you and you are confronted with GMO’s. Turns out your organic avocado is messed with on a DNA level and has no nutritional value anymore.

Slightly confused you search the interwebs and find an avocado that is organic and non-GMO. But it doesn’t stop here. The madness continues: The soil has to be good, the bacterias in the ground matter, the farmers aren’t treated well. There is no end.

So now you are growing your own avocados in your backyard and have all the boxes checked. No one can stop you now. Think again. Turns out the omega fat in the avocado isn’t the right one, so now they are not healthy, while a couple of months ago they where because omega fat is good for you, and before that, they were bad because fat was bad. All this trouble for just an avocado, and you just wanted to be more healthy. And, this doesn’t stop with the avocado.

The avocado story might be a bit exaggerated or not really accurate, but you get the point. Information changes the situation. Science changes every day and so do the things tied to the science. What was good yesterday, is bad today. Science has a tendency to contradict with older science, and this is bad practice if you want to do everything perfectly. When you follow information on healthy eating rigorously, you’ll be out of stuff to eat soon, because there’s nothing left to eat.

Fear and perfection

There’s a couple of reasons why we want to change. One of them is ego: We want to be bigger, better, faster, stronger so other people will look up to us and give us respect. Another reason is fear. Becoming better people out of a place of fear can be dangerous. We want to be better because we aren’t good enough. We feel unhappy with who we are and so we have to become better.

Maybe the doctor told you that you have to change your dietary habits because you are developing an illness. Or you have to start working out otherwise you will end up in a wheelchair. Maybe you saw a documentary about germs and it freaked you out.

When fear is the driving force behind our pursuit of a better life, we can go overboard fast. We become obsessive and become very pro- and anti about things. We want the best bang for our buck. We try to squeeze out as much as possible and strive for perfection. But perfection comes at a cost. Perfection in itself is sickness.

Perfection is rooted in fear. It’s never good enough because there really isn’t anything as perfection. Perfection is what keeps artists from publishing their work because they are insecure about their work. It wouldn’t surprise me if the best art in the world never saw the light of day because the artist fears it just isn’t good enough.

If we apply perfection to our pursuit of a better life, things can become nasty. We become the lady who went to the gym for a healthy body. Now she’s way past the healthy body and walks around looking like a freak that still isn’t happy with the way she looks. Or we become so obsessed with making money we destroy everything around us. We destroy our family life, our relationships, our health, just in pursuit of an extra dollar.

This is the threshold point where bigger, better, faster, stronger becomes too big, too good, too fast and too strong. We pushed the envelope too hard and went beyond what is optimal. We become obsessive or we burn out. Diets and fitness goals are classic when it comes to burning out. We push our body to the limit, whether it be a caloric deficit or some form of overtraining, and one day the journey stops. Back on the couch eating chips and candy, ending up four pounds heavier than when we started six months ago. Our pursuit of a better life turned into a paradox.

The paradox of becoming a better person

When the pursuit of a better life turns into a world of anxiety and fear, it’s safe to say that ignorance is bliss. Who is better off? The one living a life without worrying about any form of becoming better and just has fun and enjoys his living, or the one living an extraordinary healthy, wealthy life, but is always in fear that it’s not good enough? What if we are overdoing it?

So, here we are. We stopped eating out because we can’t trace the food, stopped going to the gym because of germs, stopped going outside because of chemtrails, stopped watching tv because of mind control, stopped drinking alcohol because of our livers, stopped smoking because of our lungs, stopped visiting our friends because of our money. Basically, we stopped living.

It’s like our brain is hardwired for problems. When all is good, we search for things that aren’t good. Tap water is bad, the bottles for bottled water are bad, the acidity of water is too high, the water is too dirty, the water is too clean. We can’t take a normal sip of water anymore. Showering becomes a problem. Problems, problems, problems.

We develop neurosis. To avoid the bad stuff, we created an obsession that might be more harmful than all the bad stuff we are avoiding. In fear of bacterias, we keep sanitizing things and washing our hands every ten minutes. As a result, our resistance is very low and we become resistant to antibiotics. We don’t get in a car anymore because cars are dangerous. Everything becomes dangerous.

But life is dangerous, it’s an adventure. Sure, we might get hurt along the way, but so what? We’ll live, and even if we don’t we have lived a life worth living.

How to become an actual better person

How about living a life we want to live and listening to our own body? How about a little awareness? If our vegan diet is causing too much of a deficit, how about a T-bone steak? If all the books and articles are making us more confused? How about getting rid of 90% and just reread the best ones?

So the next big cause of death won’t be cigarettes, medicines, chemicals, milk, lifting too heavy, or some conspiracy theory. It is the fear of all these things that kill us.

First, the worry takes our mind, then it kills the soul and the constant anxiety and stress eventually kill the body.

Pursuing a better life is a great cause, but it shouldn’t become an obsession. Doing things with moderation and awareness is a must. Ask yourself: Am I still on the right track? How does this make me feel? How is my body doing? How am I feeling in the mind? Is my spirit still present? Do I still want to reach the goal set, or should I adjust? Is this still beneficial for my overall life, or is it creating an imbalance?

When pursuing a better life, stick to your guns. Be patient and give it time. Don’t search the interwebs for a new program when you don’t have six-pack abs after just a month into your program.

Also, accept the fact that we are dying. Everything good has something bad and vice versa. Just pick something that gives you a life you want and that is worth dying for. If we live a life worth living, one life is enough. The goal is a great, enjoyable life, not a life as long as possible by any means necessary.

By all means, try to become a better person. I’m trying to do the same. Just make sure you don’t lose your shit on the journey.

Photo by: Ryan McGuire

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  1. Pingback: Stop Watching the News and Love Your Neighbor | Dennis Stoelwinder

  2. Nick Aldewereld

    Hi Dennis,

    Great post which gave me a lot of thoughts to chew on (We die, pursuit for bigger, better faster, stronger) We are not so rare if you look at other animals in nature and how much people presence has exploded exponentially ( Have you read Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari? Great overview and look on human development and it’s history.

    Internet has it’s downsides, but also brings great prosperity to us and the world.

    I believe the internet is neutral and just a tool in bringing us together in one world. Sure, we will face big problems but it give us a chance to unite. Still a lot of hurdles to go.

    We’ll see, and die eventually. lol.

    Thanks. Have a great day and keep on writing.

    1. Post
      Dennis Stoelwinder

      Hey Nick,

      Glad the post gave you some food for thought, as that’s the goal. To create a bit of awareness. I’ve seen this book you mention pop up couple times already, so I’m going to get a copy. Thanks for the tip!

      Internet, in my opinion, is just like guns and money. In itself there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s neutral. It all depends on the users. It can be a great tool to create positivity or to create negativity. All depends on the users.

      In the end, we all die, so no need to worry too much, haha.

      Thanks for reading brother!

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