The Five Paths to Better (and Why It’s So Friggin’ Hard to Stick to Them…)

five-pathsIf you want to become a better person, you have to work on multiple fronts. Here’s the five main paths I’ve identified, examples of each in my life, and the most common stumbling blocks for each.

1. Health
  • What we need to do: reduce or avoid toxic things – food, substances, relationships, etc.
  • Examples for me: Diet, healthcare, sleep routine, yoga, etc.
  • Stumbling block: the things that are most toxic are usually most addictive and used to self-medicate for those not ready to confront their demons

2. Therapeutic Pursuits
  • What we need to do: seek out activities that reduce stress and allow us to process our emotional experiences
  • Examples for me: Comics, comedy, cross-stitch, performance, etc.
  • Stumbling block: we get embarrassed by our pursuits if they aren’t “right” for our gender, race, class, etc.
    3. Intrinsically-Motivated Practice
  • What we need to do: work and develop based on our own internal drive, not in competition with or comparison to others
  • Examples for me: practicing bass (and other instruments), research, writing, etc.
  • Stumbling block: we’re socialized to seek out “carrots” (rewards/affirmations) and avoid “sticks” (punishments/humiliations) and get locked into extrinsic motivation
4. Mutual Aid
  • What we need to do: seek out solutions to problems in our personal and professional lives that benefit all parties involved
  • Examples for me: Charity, freelancing, volunteering, mindful spending, etc.
  • Stumbling block: we’re socialized to have “winner-takes-all” mindsets and assume self-interests and altruism are mutually exclusive
5. Simplicity
  • What we need to do: eliminate possessions, worries, time commitments, etc. which burden and distract us from focusing on what’s important
  • Examples for me: Organization, living small, personal finance, family, etc.
  • Stumbling block: we’re socialized to associate conspicuous consumption (spending too much money on unimportant things) and busyness (spending to much time on unimportant things) with status, love, and acceptance

All five of these things are difficult to pursue, but endlessly rewarding. I’m going to try to structure future posts more around these five paths (although practice will stay the domain of Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist). Stay tuned!

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist, Instructor, Writer

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