tba, working on, so just read quickly for the ideas and concepts


Too high a standard = unhappiness

Too low a standard = unhappiness

Porridge not too hot and not too cold = happiness (for all of us, and Goldilocks)


We must change and improve to be ok (because we are not ok as we are...).

But change is so hard (and I feel like a failure).

Oh, that's ok.  I understand.  (And I don't want you to be stressed out, you poor thing.

Well, the purpose of life is to grow!  (Really?  Aren't we confusing the means with the end?  We are seeking to have a greater life - so certainly we must learn what it takes to have a better life - and that is often called "growth".)

But if life is about improving and we hold it that we are not doing well if we are not improving, doesn't that mean that we are basing our life on getting "more" (or better)?

And if the source of suffering is trying to get more and never being happy until we arrive at the undefined "enough", aren't we really just "setting ourselves up" for failure?  For never arriving, for never being good enough or far enough along? 


If we refocus on the purpose of life, it is to "be happy".  (Even the Dalai Lama says that.)

And if we can learn what it takes to be happy, then we have achieved our purpose if we are largely experiencing our life as happy. 

Can we learn more?  And be better off?


But we do not need to make ourselves unhappy about not being far enough along or not being better.  We do not need to make ourselves unhappy about not meeting our unrealistic expectations.

Yet, it is appropriate to set some standard for where we should be.  Otherwise, we live in the land of vagueness and lack of clarity, which can be another version of hell since we can't know when we've "arrived". 

And if we set that standard clearly, then we can engage in what I call "the bonuses", the little extras that benefit us but are not something we must have. 

And then it is still good for us to learn more as long as the benefit is greater than the cost, kinda like another bonus - not needed but certainly happily accepted.


The standard is for us to become a fully-functioning, 100% responsible, non-dependent, non-stressed individual who is totally self-sufficient but able to cooperate (be effectively interdependent)  with others to produce even more good for ourselves and others. 

How could we settle for less?

That's what this site is about.  But it is also about not pushing it too far - essentially avoiding the unrealistic, while appreciating the mountain of haves.  It is about your deciding for yourself (in an "informed" manner) "what is enough" - the line above which you are "happy".

So, that's setting the standard on the up side.


But on the flip side, where are we letting ourselves and others down?

I believe that, as long as we are involved in this process called living, we might as well get the satisfaction of contributing to others.  Of course, excessive self-sacrifice and insufficient taking care of oneself in order to compulsively try to prove ourselves worthy by contributing excessively to other is not wise.

But there is a frequent downside that occurs when we confuse love with acquiessence, and we drop our standards such that we lessen the lives of another human being.

We often do that with our kids, for we are not trained as to the line between love and codependency (facilitating something harmful for another person, being an "enabler").  (See the pieces in the "codependency and enabling" box in Children And Parenting Contents/Links.)


"I love my (kid, spouse, me, friend) just as he/she is.  They don't need to change." 

A caring remark, but one that is damaging - producing the very opposite of what is intended.   We have it wired that improvement implies that what exists is "bad" or that "we're being critical".  But our actions are the actions of a co-conspirator, supporting the other person's corresponding erroneous beliefs. 

How about if someone did that for a child who is seven years old and the child's development stopped there?  Would the cost be worth the momentary reinforcement of being loved?  Should a child receive a "pass" from a grade because it might damage his self esteem if he didn't?  Wouldn't he be forever behind - and ultimately damaged?
Do we want our children to be underachievers and to not develop, through having a few non-rescued experiences, a sense of self-efficacy?  Isn't that a life destroying condition?

If you love someone, you want them to have a better life.  You want them to achieve their goals. 

Yet, somehow, people don't connect the dots - that people won't live better lives or get more of what they want, unless they improve to get better at the skills that get them what they want!!!!!   (The only other alternative is to hope that somehow the good fairy, or happenstance, acts to make things better.  Or that rescue is in the wings.  And encouraging someone to rely on those is what is called an "enabling", where the belief of powerlessness and helplessness is affirmed.  And when there is a belief of powerlessness and/or helplessness or that someone must rescue them, people lose what is vital for their self esteem and self regard: their belief that they can manage their lives and be responsible and productive.  Science has proven that this is the greatest human emotional loss of them all, destroying lives and leading to lives of quiet desperation and ineffective coping.)


According to Albert Bandura, one's sense of self-efficacy is "the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations."  

The alternative is fear that one will not be able to handle life, unless rescued. 

People with a sense of self-efficacy don't give up so quickly and persevere because they believe they are likely to create a good outcome - and they do - they produce much better results and are more effective in life so that they achieve better lives.

And they recover more quickly from setbacks. 

"Those without self-efficacy live in doubt and fear, despite their seeming cavalier attitude about it.  And setbacks seem to deeply confirm their lack of capability."   As a result they don't try hard, significantly underachieve, and don't live great lives.

Yet people make excuses for them, like "that's just who they are (or how they are)" - they make the common mistake of attributing it to that person as if it is a permanent part of them, rather than a created trait.) and they ask little of them, further allowing it to self perpetuate.... 

People are unwittingly helping to cheat them of a better future.
"According to social cognitive theory, self-efficacy beliefs provide the foundation for human motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment: Unless people believe that their actions can produce the outcomes they desire, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties. These self-perceptions touch virtually every aspect of people's lives—whether they think productively, self-debilitatingly, pessimistically or optimistically; how well they motivate themselves and persevere in the face of adversities; their vulnerability to stress and depression; and the life choices they make."

Self-efficacy is also a critical determinant of the self-regulatory practices in which individuals engage as they go about the important task of self-correcting their actions and cognitions.


"I don't want (mychild, spouse, friend, me) to be stressed out by trying to improve." 

(It's a lot less stressful to improve and not have to experience the stress of more mistakes in living life!!!!!!!)

"It's too much effort."

"I can't change."  (Followed usually by a "reason", "justification" or "story'.)

"It's hard.  It takes too much sacrifice"

"I don't want to be disapproving of another, which is what is implied by saying they should improve."

"I can't change.  I've tried and failed many times.  I think I'll just give up on it."  (And get fatter, less healthy, less happy, less....)  

(No, change is not hard.  It is less effort spent than continuing to spend one's efforts and energy doing the wrong thing.  And the problem is not that change isn't achievable [what a myth that is!], but that one is going about it unskillfully and in the wrong way.  See The Process Of Changing.)


"Planning is too hard.   And focusing is too much effort."

If one scatters energy all about, one will have little gain in life.  If one focuses that same energy in a narrow directed band, one will experience huge gains in that area that will make life better, make oneself more competent, and do it with a lot less energy cost!

A clear structured and a clear map make it easier to achieve an objective, just as it would be easier to get to New York City from California with a map than a general vague idea of how to get there.  For some reason, defying all logic, people think that a good life is something one will arrive at just by traveling through it, as if experience was a sufficient teacher - it isn't - and most people come to many wrong conclusions along the way, much to their detriment. 

Unless someone does plan, do, review, improve, one will wander through life not gaining the full value from life's lessons and not developing the capability to live a better life. 

If one keeps getting the same bad results and one doesn't look to see what should be learned (i.e. improved though learning), isn't that person doomed to repeat the same mistake over and over and over and to experience the pain over and over and over? 

Isn't it easier to go directly through life toward what you want, making lots of course corrections as a plane would, or should one wander widely all around, wasting lots of time and energy and not getting to one's destination? 


"Discipline is hard" is the conversation, but it is offered as an excuse.  But it is necessary, and actually not that hard. 

Instead one had to face the facts and do the best (without self-criticism) one can at following "the way to what one wants".  [Discipline means staying on the path one has set.  A disciple "follows the way."]   Read Discipline - "The Only Way To Get What You Want".


Don't set yourself up to lose by setting an unreachable, impractical standard.

And don't let yourself or someone else get stuck in the trap of not being responsible enough and/or enabling others to live that way - it's the path to hell.