The theory of self-improvement

Athenus Motivation

The History:

The origin of the process of understanding humans and their self-development began in the late 19th Century. When Sigmund Freud, began the study on the neurosis and missing part of it, he took a very radial approach of studying the disturbed or mal functioning humans. Because of that he argued that our minds are always looking out for pleasure and it is dominated by the rumination of the past. This was the first school of thought as far as psychology is concerned. Then many theories came and many brilliant minds contributed to each theory such as Behaviourism and structuralism. The concept of the self-development really took off when the humanistic school of thought started.

Many great thinkers like Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Virginia satir contributed immensely to the area of self-development. Abraham Maslow’s Pyramid of motivation stands at the pinnacle of it.

The last stage of that pyramid is self-actualization, which means, as per Maslow’s words “The desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming”. This is the first time in the history of psychology where the thought of humans can develop over time into their best, authentic version of themselves was laid down. This approach is entirely different from Freud’s and other schools such as Behaviorism.

 The Process:

But how to attain this self-actualization? How to become the most authentic self? The Process is very simple to say, but a bit hard in action. Form habits that are essential to become a most authentic, best version of yourself. Modern Self-help techniques like NLP and Law of attraction, always emphasis this habit formation as their base. Habit formation, both at the mental level and the physical level is the base of transformation. But what are habits? Habits are routines that take place without much cognitive effort. In neuroscience it is called as automatic processing. The tasks which require our cognitive effort are called controlled processing. So the state of self-actualization can be achieved if we managed to do tasks which are favorable to our physical and mental well-being as automatic control. Alfred North Whitehead a noted philosopher once said “Civilization advances by extending the number of operations that we can perform, without thinking about them”. I am guessing he is clearly mentioning about HABITS here.

The Two components:

Habit formation is simple but not easy. The mere concept of humanistic psychology teaches us that we can develop ourselves, if we put in some time and effort. This concept kick started the belief of improving self is depended wholly on the individual. As I mentioned, just by forming good habits we can become the ultimate best version of ourselves. But how to do that. There are two components involved when it comes to build habits. They are

  • GRIT

If humans practiced to develop these two traits, then it is simple for them to build habits that are essential for their mental and physical well-being.


Grit in simple terms, is about thriving in everyday challenges and getting over them and moving towards our desire. So we have to first identify the girt as a state of mind and then practice it till it becomes a trait of mind, so that habit formation becomes simple. There is an innate fierceness in humans, and we should locate it and use it in daily basis. There is an exercise called Delaying gratification, which would greatly help to develop the trait of GRIT. The putting off or procrastinating your desire, is the key element in that exercise. Practicing these exercises can help build the resource of GRIT.


This is a key element in habit formation. Motivation is a state of mind just like GRIT. You can develop this trait by practicing a thing called “Aspiration without attachment”. Though they may seem similar “Wanting” and “liking” are two different things. So if we try and develop the trait of liking without wanting, then it is easy for us to stay motivated. This helps in aspiring for things without creating the stress surrounding the results. Stress is the number one villain for motivation.  So managing that by eating healthy, trying to focus the task on hand and good sleep will help you build the trait of motivation.

When these two resources are plentiful, we can form habits that are beneficial to our body and mind. Hence we can become the most authentic and best version of ourselves.


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