What is Self Development?

In Essays, Self Improvement

Being an avid reader, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a very different conception of self development compared to most people. In fact, I prefer the term “development of the self” as I feel it’s more accurate. It’s not about concentrating only on yourself, but on how you interact with the world around you. It’s not about the amount of money you have in the bank, the attractiveness of your partner or the things you own. In some ways, it may well be easier to improve yourself when you have less, purely because there is less to distract you.

I think self-development can be broken down into three steps.

  1. Improving the body.This is an often disregarded aspect. A healthy body is like a quiet library. It gives you a good place to contemplate and work.
  2. Improving the mind.Learning to see things for what they truly are. Learning to control our initial reactions and use reason and objectivity to make decisions.
  3. Improving our actions.This should, in theory, come naturally after steps one and two but it can’t hurt to think about how we should act. After all, it’s not what you say, but what you do that defines who you are.


The crucial thing is to acknowledge the fact that we can all improve. We have all made mistakes in our lives and while we should be content with what we have, there is no harm in wanting positive changes in our lives. The approach I want to take encompasses a whole philosophical ideal of breaking self improvement into such small steps that it’s virtually impossible to fail.

I cannot think of a better way to approach this subject. After all, if you start something with an almost guarantee that you will be successful you will be far more likely to want to do it.

That’s exactly what Self Development is: the want, the hunger, the primal need that every man and woman has to improve their lot each and every day. Hopefully if we can develop ourselves enough as human beings we can then begin to work on developing the world into a better place.

Epictetus, the philosopher who created a wonderful manual for life called the “Enchirdion of Epictetus“, thinks that self-development is all that is required to make the world a better place. Adding an “honest citizen to the city rolls” is enough, you don’t have to make huge contributions to society to improve it, just not doing any serious harm is already a great contribution, and leaving things better than you found them goes a long way towards that aim.

However, I feel that we can be more ambitious than that, and take ourselves to new heights that we, or anyone else, thought possible.

While it doesn’t feel like we can accomplish much in one day, small efforts compounded over time are the way towards making real change that adds positively to everyone around us.

I hope you join me.