When self-improvement fails, work on discovering the truth
Naval: The search for peace is really the search for truth. Try to see the advantage of understanding things by discovering the truth rather than by practice.
When you discover the truth, bad habits can disappear
Let’s say I’m trying to quit smoking. There are techniques I can try, but they’re always painful and difficult. Often, a moment will come when I see myself in a new way that allows the habit to disappear by itself. I get a diagnosis of lung cancer and understand I’m going to die, or I see a friend get in trouble with similar bad habits. When I see something clearly enough and understand it, the bad habit can dissolve by itself.
More broadly, I may see some facet of myself that I don’t like. Maybe I see it in a friend and then can’t unsee it to the point that we can no longer be friends.
Self-improvement is just a dressed up form of self-conflict
Seeing and understanding things leads to changes that practice and technique cannot achieve. When you’re following a technique, there’s always a gap between you and the thing you’re trying to achieve. There’s always repetition, struggle and conflict.
If we want peace, we have to give up on self-conflict. We even have to give up on self-improvement, because self-improvement is just a dressed up form of self-conflict. Instead, we need to use our natural curiosity to understand things better. Through understanding, we will naturally improve ourselves.
Once we truly understand the effects of unhealthy food on our bodies—when we see the extra weight we’re carrying, or we track the glucose spike and crash after eating too much sugar, or we see how caffeine hops us up and then crashes us—we automatically change for the better.
So, the path towards peace is truth.