The thing that I see so many people looking for in personal development is the magic pill – the thing that, once you have it, you’ll live in your mansion in a land where the unicorns frolic in the fields and world peace is a reality.
Here’s a quick example of a magic pill: ever think to yourself, “Well, if only I could meet that special someone, then my life would be perfect/beautiful/amazing?”. Well, your perfect significant other is a magic pill for you. You believe that, if you get that significant other of your dreams, your life will be perfect.
Reality would beg to differ.
The Magic Pill Is A Superhero Costume
Even though so many people say they aren’t looking for the “magic pill”, oftentimes – they are, since the magic pill mentality can creep into your mind, like a virus, ever so slowly. I catch myself looking for magic pills sometimes, because magic pills disguise themselves so well. It’s okay. The key is to recognize when you’re looking for a magic pill, and how to detach yourself from it by reminding why you actually want that magic pill so much.
We see that elusive magic pill as the thing that will make all our problems fall away. This is a giant oversimplification of the actual personal development process. We love the concept of overnight successes, and the magic pill is just that – an overnight success that transforms you into something amazing instantly, like Peter Parker donning his Spider-Man costume. Of course, his glamorous life as The Amazing Spider-Man obscures the fact that he’s still Peter Parker under that cool looking suit. He’s still the same guy, with all the same problems, thoughts, and concerns that he did before.
The magic pill is a ‘cheat’ in the personal development process, as far as I’m concerned – and they don’t exist. They’re myths made up because certain people exaggerated about the effect that something had on their lives.
3 Magic Pills We’re All Searching For
Here are some magic pills that we’re always searching for:
1. “Happiness”: What got me into the whole personal development field was the concept of happiness. I never felt truly “happy” because I went through cycles of good and bad emotions (and, in hindsight – who doesn’t?), so I wanted to find out how I could become purely happy and never have a bad day again in my life. Well, after making a total turnaround and becoming a much more positive person (I used to be quite negative and can act that way at times), I realized something – I had the “happiness” that I had chased for so long. Keep in mind that this process took me nearly 2 years to go through! And what did I feel? Totally normal. I thought “happiness” would cure all my problems and life would be really easy after that. Nope! I still had challenges I had to get through, I still felt fear, and I still have to work on myself every single day.
2. Finding a “Passion”: I never bought into this magic pill in the first place, but a lot of people seem to be. Everyone on the Internet – especially the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk – seems to be telling you to quit your job and make your living doing your “passion”. It becomes so seductive to quit your job and go build houses in Africa or whatever you decide your passion is. However, this business has created a lot of anxiety amongst a bunch of people. Why? 2 things – 1) Nobody is telling people how to actually find their “passion”, because the truth is, no one has just one thing they’re passionate about; and 2) Everyone is wondering if the “passion” they pick is the “right passion”. You wouldn’t have just one hobby, would you? So why would you have one passion? It’s awful, but so many people are convinced that, once they quit their job and start living their ambiguous, unnamed passion, all of their internal problems will fall away and they will be complete. Not so. Reality soon starts knocking on your door – just like when you become “happy”. You will still have problems to solve, still get scared, and still get hurt.
3. Relationships: This especially applies to finding a significant other. So many people look for their significant other to “complete” them in some way, and it’s not good. If you think that meeting that perfect someone is going to complete you, you may never meet them and feel a sense of lack for the rest of your life, or if you do meet them, one day, when you’re lying next to her (or him), you’ll realize that you haven’t changed at all as a person, and that what you thought of yourself before meeting them still applies. Waiting your whole life for someone to complete you is unhealthy. It is much better to just accept that you are whole and complete as you are – now and forever. That way, you also never have to worry about being good enough for that special someone either!
The Path We All Walk
Now, just because I said that these are magic pills doesn’t mean you can’t try to get them! I fully encourage people to do whatever they can to make themselves understand happiness and become happy, pursue whatever work makes their heart sing, and try and find someone who would make a good partner for them. I’ve done (and am doing) all three, as of right now!
The key thing to remember when you’re going after these things is that you’re trying to get them because of the benefits that they’ll give you. Not because they’ll totally transform your life – because they won’t. They can’t change the person inside you. Finding all those things, I believe, are part of the self-development path that we all walk.
What matters is how you approach them. If you go after them because you believe that they will magically make your life perfection on earth – guess what – you’ll find out they won’t, and be disappointed. But if you take things as they are, you’ll find that attaining those things, while they don’t make your life perfect, are immensely rewarding in and of themselves. That alone makes them worth it.
More to the point: the path we all walk cannot be cheated. To get to the prize at the end of the path, you must put in the work, must choose to take every step forward, you must choose to seek an alternate route when you can’t progress any further, you must choose to change your methods to adapt to the conditions of the path, you must choose to cut through the brush with whatever you have at your disposal if you don’t have any other options, you must choose to press on even when you feel like giving up (because you will), you must choose to be willing to forgive yourself for your mistakes, and, above all, you must realize that everything is your choice.
Along the way, you will be rewarded. If you put in the work and actively try and redefine yourself, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish. But the thing that there are no magic pills – how hard you try and how long you try will determine your success.
You will have to face your fears. You will have to come to terms with the mistakes you’ve made in your past – especially the ones that have shaped your present. And, to be honest, that’s the hardest part of this. It’s tough dealing with the past – but we all must in order to keep going.
As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. All you have to do to complete the journey?
Take one step, over and over again.
There’s no magic pill or teleportation device that can take you to the end.
You have to take those steps.