We seem to, en masse, have a fixation about improvement. I guess that might be an expression of evolution and some will argue that it is normal and intended that we improve. We improve things and we improve people and we are kind of expected to also shine the improvement flashlight upon ourselves. Hmmmm? Some get a bit enthusiastic and when they shine that light on others it may not be welcomed.
To improve is to make better. But who decides what better looks like? Mom and Dad may want to improve the look of the bedroom with paint and paper and curtains etc. But the teen who lives in that bedroom may not agree that the improvements chosen are improvements at all, and vice versa if they choose the decor. Isn’t this the kind of argument we encounter when trying to improve many things in society?
Let us notice the core of this word, improvement. In the middle we have ‘prove’. Now that can really get the lawyers in us going, huh. The suffix of ‘ment’ tells us the word improvement is about the action to improve. Since so much about improvement stems from opinion we often find ourselves shrugging about changes made by others. Ever ask yourself why ‘they’ fixed something that wasn’t broken (in your opinion)?
It seems natural to tend toward improving things. We stumble across a better way to do something, a faster route to drive somewhere, a new gadget that makes peeling an orange simple and fast. Those are deemed to be improvements as they free up more discretionary time, less time sort of stuck in a pattern or method or a less than helpful thought. Ah, improving my thoughts. I’m on it.
Improving can simply be adapting. The plant evolves to better thrive in a particular environment. The work colleague learns when to speak and how, in order to better thrive at work. Sometimes that means holding one’s light under a bushel basket. In those times, the environment is the work colleagues, mostly the boss. Hmmm. How can I improve the environment for others around me, so they can improve too?