“Self-Improvement is Masturbation”

Lucas A. Davidson
2 min readNov 9, 2023

Daily Meditation 622–11/9/2023

Have you met people who eschew “self-help?”

Books, videos, meditations, journaling, etc…

You mention it or share it and they think “Yer just gonna die — what’s the point in improvement?”

The equivalent of “YOLO” mentality made manifest in attitude and behaviors.

And perhaps they’re correct — we really are “just” going to die, so what is the point?

Improvement of the self is transcendence.

And we are surrounded every day by things which remind us of transcendence.

When we’re in a museum and behold a massive 12 foot x 24 foot oil masterpiece from Salvador Dalí which took him years and hundreds of thousands of brushstrokes, we see the ability to transcend beyond mastery.

When we behold a child’s first steps, their indomitable and natural gregarious nature — the in-built “never-ever-give-up-ness” that keeps them rising and rising and rising despite countless falls and injuries, we see transcendence.

When we stand outside in the dead of night and see the black silhouette of a tree that sprouted hundreds of years before us and know it will be beholding the same-shaped constellations overhead hundreds of years after us, it being largely unchanged in its form, we recognize our place in transcendence through nature.

We (should) aspire to “transcend” the self via improvement, and the mere fact we can be brought to tears from beauty — natural or manmade — seems to me to be a sign we are meant to seek meaning in the world through self-betterment.

So, no — self-improvement isn’t “cringy” or “masturbatory.” It’s our very nature.

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These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”

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Lucas A. Davidson

Daily philosophical meditations on Eudaimonia. These are distillations from the forthcoming book on the topic. Comments or jobs: lucas@multistatewide.com