Ah, that iconic quote from “As Good As it Gets”. Every woman’s heart melted when Melvin Udall said it. How beautiful it is to see a good woman transform a jerk. Or did she?
Everywhere you look, there’s some class, workshop, book, webinar, out there designed to improve us. Udall didn’t need his waitress to transform him, right? I mean, we already do things we think will improve us: work out, meditate, read inspirational books, choose the soft drink over the cocktail, etc. Whatever it is, we do it so we can be “better”. Or do we?
Look, the truth is, nothing can improve us. I’m serious. What these things actually do is bring forth, little by little, our coolest self. We develop good habits and “walk through fire”, because we have a burning (pun intended) desire to be authentic. If instead we take on an end goal of becoming “better”, then these habits become obligations or feats of discipline. Have you ever “fallen off the wagon” by behaving badly, and felt awful because you knew you could do better? That feeling is evidence of living inauthentically.
So what did change Melvin’s life? Melvin. He witnessed someone living so authentically he couldn’t stand not living that way too. He witnessed it and (internally) screamed, “I want that!”
Now…who is your coolest self? That answer is different for everyone. Our only job is to consistently do things that scare, excite, and connect us – not so we can become “better” people, but to reveal who we truly are. We call it self-improvement, but it’s real name is Self Emergence, and its a lifelong process.