How does one internalize advice that is an enumerated collection of pithy platitudes?
Consider the following list of phrases typically found in self-help books and blog posts:
- Be fearless. Rid yourself of your anxieties.
- Be more spontaneous.
- Motivate yourself (spend 5 minutes here, then revert to your previous apathetic self 10 minutes after roaring "This is Spartaaaa!!!")
- Observe everything. Observe body language, observe motives, observe environmental cues.
- Be curious
And so on. One generally reads such lists, nods in approval, vows to do all of the above, then unwittingly goes back to exactly the way they were before they stumbled upon said lists. The reader's old self gradually returns to reclaim its psychological territory, even though the reader (sometimes desperately) wants to be more motivated, curious, etc.
Reading alone doesn't change one's behavioural patterns. It must be paired with something else. But what? Why is it so difficult to internalize quotes of wisdom (e.g. "be the change you want to see in the world")? Does one also need to be vigilant in intercepting undesirable thoughts and behaviour as they happen subconsciously? If I lose my cool in traffic, observe that I'm getting flustered, and think back to what I read a few days ago, have I truly become a naturally calm person or have I merely imposed a normative structure on my prior self?
Succinctly, how does one derive the most out of lists?