Making Yourself Better vs. Making Yourself Feel Better

man reaching hand out of ocean

Recently on his podcast, Tim Ferriss considered the differences between making yourself better and making yourself feel better. As he explained, making yourself better forces you to confront your own weaknesses and do something about them. This takes time, humility, and a willingness to sacrifice short-term comfort for long-term growth. Conversely, making yourself feel better can happen instantaneously, but often only lasts momentarily.

This got me thinking about how much of life is now oriented to the moment:

-Tweet or post something that makes you look good.

-Indulge in the large dessert.

-Ask Alexa to order something you want but don’t really need.

-Reply All to get your point across.

-Gossip about the latest drama involving someone who has irritated you.

-Read the latest “bing” on your phone instead of looking your spouse in the eye when they’re talking to you.

The list is not close to being exhaustive. The challenge is things like this come up frequently. But are we committed to making ourselves better?

Consider how different choices can actually produce long-term, lasting improvement:

-Not posting self-promotional things on social media slowly chips away at our selfishness and helps us genuinely celebrate others.

-Passing on the dessert until it is adequately earned in the gym eventually leads to weight loss and better self image.

-Saying no to unnecessary consumerism over time allows you the peace and freedom of financial security.

-Letting someone else get the last word allows you to grow in humility.

-Conversing directly with someone you have conflict with created relational peace and deeper relationships.

-Turning your phone off so that your attention is entirely on your spouse creates space for authentic conversations that bond you together and grow your marriage.

These are choices we face every day.

You just have to be willing to do the harder thing, for now, so that you can get better in the long run.

Isn’t that the way to feeling better—really feeling better—in the long-term anyway?