“It is not necessary to be perfect, as long as you are just a little bit better than the person you were yesterday”, is an oft quoted motivational maxim, and the statement I have decided to discuss. “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning”, is only another dressing for the same idea. However, I will begin by saying that I have some issues with the second statement, if it is to be taken verbatim.
The first sentence is what encapsulates it in. If you do not know what you are, then there is nothing stopping you from consistently becoming worse than you were in the beginning. It is like a person asking for directions to their destination, who says, “I do not need to know exactly where I am, as long as it is not where I was when I began.” That is a terribly inefficient way to travel, and as we all know, life is a journey that begins from birth and ends in the grave.
What exactly am I trying to say here?
To truly live a fulfilling life a person must have a myriad of information about themselves, some of the most important being Where you began, Where you are now, and Where you are planning to go – in other words, your main life purpose. Without those little details, a person is bound to waste valuable time and energy drifting aimlessly about life for indefinite periods. This, to be frank, is a total waste of the body, mind and soul that is the organic human machine.
My purpose for writing this essay (aside from a chance to win the cash prize) is to help map out a plan which would help us live fulfilling lives, with as little external physical, mental and spiritual friction as possible. Even if we cannot be perfect today, at least we can be confident that we are a little bit, not just different, but better than we were when we began our journey.
To be clear, the start of your journey in life does not necessarily mean the moment you were born, but rather when a person gains sufficient self-awareness to develop an overall vision for their lives.
How can we accomplish this? I will try to answer this question to the best of my ability in the next few paragraphs.
First, we need to have a little understanding of the human animal. A human being, barring any unfortunate complications at birth or after, is composed of three distinct, yet interconnected, phases which are gradually formed within the first seven years of life. To be clear, development of these phases, whether positive or negative, goes on continuously until death, but it is within the first seven years that they are formed. They are the physical phase, the psychological, and the spiritual.
The Physical phase is the first, and it starts to be formed from the moment a certain fertilization process takes place in the womb, nine months before it is presented to the planet as a baby. For the first year, that phase is all there is. For close to a full year a baby has no sense of self, but then soon begins to form thoughts in their minds, and tries to mimic sounds from its external environment to communicate those thoughts.
Thus the Psychological or Intellectual phase is born. Depending on the level of stimulus from the external environment (i.e., what is readily available for the child to learn from), the intellect more or less gradually develops as the child learns more and more words and symbols, as well as activities with which they interact with the environment, like walking; dancing; reading; or watching television. And finally, the final phase comes into play as the child begins to grasp the fundamental concepts of right and wrong.
The Spiritual and final phase is the most subjective, and is always dependent upon what the child can gleam from its environment. To be clear, all moral and psychological defects of character, or, on the other hand, all noble and intelligent character traits stem, from these first seven years of a child’s life.
Out of these three, the Psychological is the most complex in scope, in that, barring any congenital defects, a healthy physical body can be easily obtained, while a strong moral character can be taught (that too, provided the child is not exposed to moral or spiritual extremists). The intellect itself is made up of so many branches, that an otherwise brilliant child can be thought to be stupid in the wrong environment.
The intellect itself is expressed in two basic ways: in linguistic and cognitive functions. As can be expected, the linguistic functions involve the various verbal and nonverbal that ways, thoughts and ideas are communicated between an individual and their environment. The cognitive functions are all human functions that deal with the mental processes of thought and the capacity to process information and other external stimulus.
One of the most important cognitive functions is the that of attention. There are three types: sustained (enables a person to stay focused on a task for a sustained period of time); selective (enables a person to stay focused on a task despite distractions); and divided (enables a person to remember information while doing two things at once).
Another is Memory, of which there are two types: long-term (enables a person to recall information stored in the past); and working, or short-term (enables a person to hang on to information while in the process of using it).
Other cognitive skills include logical reasoning (enables a person to reason, form ideas, and solve problems); auditory rocessing (enables a person to analyze, blend, and segment sounds); visual processing (enables a person to think in visual images); and finally, processing speed, which enables a person to perform tasks quickly and accurately).
The daily and consistent development of the various cognitive and linguistic skills, through targeted study and other technical activities like sports, is the key to always becoming a new and better person every day. You will always become smarter, and, through the habit of consistent practice, also develop spiritual strength. And you do not even have to go for hours at a time. In fact, it is more productive to go at a light but steady pace, for example, thirty minutes to an hour of a particular activity at a time.
Due to limited space, I cannot expand further upon the subject, and it is clear that we have not even scratched the surface. But, at least I hope I have sown some seeds of thought in a few conscious minds.
Gradual individual development is the key to solving most of the problems in the world today. Better linguistic and communication skills will help people of different ethnic groups get along better. Better cognitive functions will help us serve humanity and the planet on which we coexist much more efficiently. And that, I believe, should be the ideal goal of every man, woman and child in the world – not simply being a different person now than when you began your respective journeys.