As I recall, none of my extended family have ever expressed a desire to improve themselves. Neither have any of my friends and coleagues from over all the years, ever expressed such a desire.
I embarked upon an open university course to study the environment from 1999 - 2004, but did this improve me as a person? Beyond the field of study, I don't think so, I was only educating myself. Self improvement wasn't the agenda anyway.
I suppose people assume they will become wiser and a better person as they get older, or don't they even think of it at all?
Even if someone does think they wish they were a better person, it's so easy to say "but this is the way I am" and accept the status quo.
I remember, whilst in regular business for someone else, I never considered that I needed self improvment studies. When you are in full time employment, perhaps with kids to look after, meals to cook, a house to clean, or a game to catch on TV, where is the time for self indulgence?
Because that's exactly what introspection is - a form of self indulgence.
Yet in google, many people are searching and looking to improve...
* Self Improvement- 90,000 + global searches / mo
* Personal Development- 135,000+ global searches / mo
Who are these people, 225,000 searches out of a world population of 6.785 billion (as of Sept 09), is no great percentage. Is it that introspection only occurs when one has free time on hand?
Certainly the greatest self-thinker of all time - Buddha - who was a noble prince, had the time for introspection because he was privaleged and beyond subsistence living when he started his life long journey.
If we look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs* we may begin to see the answer.
Deficiency needs must be met before an individual can focus on higher needs. The necessity to house, cloth and feed ones family has to be achieved firstly before any other need.
It is not until the fifth growth need of Self Actualization that an individual can focus on introspection. People in self actualization have a psychological drive for personal growth, they are the seekers of knowledge. Maslow himself thought that only 2% of the world's population were predominantly self actuating.
So unless you are a student where you may be exposed to the idea of personal development when young, you will probably be in your 50s, where the kids have flown the nest, or when you have achieved your position in life, that you will be attending to your growth needs. :)
What Maslow recognised is only human nature; the hierarchy is a natual progression through which we all must strive, where some will never go beyond their Physiological and Security needs because of external influences. But what I am asking is - why wait this long before introspection and self evaluation? Cannot we recognise the importance of the characteristics of personal development goals before we enter the second half of our lives...
* Seek, Find and Follow Through Your Passion
* Recognise Your Talents
* Seek, Find and Nurture Your Inner Calm, Your Centre
* Never Allow Yourself To Become A Victim
* Take Resposibility For Your Life
* Be The Best You Can Be Every Single Day
...and how much better might our children's lives be by being exposed to these influences earlier rather than later?
It is my hope and desire that the 225,000 seekers in google will increase by 1 after you've digested this post dear reader, and that very soon the figure will increase to millions. You see, I don't think people are apathetic, they are just too busy living their lives to see beyond their immediate needs.
But oh what a better life they could lead if they only had the time to step back and indulge in a little introspection.