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I Am Getting SuperBetter

I was listening to my best friend Manoush Zomorodi’s podcast (by the way — she doesn’t know she’s my best friend and that I talk to her while the podcast is running, so please don’t tell her), and she had on Jane McGonigal, a game designer and the author of SuperBetter.

I decided to download the app on a whim.  Here’s the thing: I have a lot of issues with self-help apps or books .  If you have a specific problem you want to address, and you seek out help through a specific app or book, I think the self-help world is a godsend.  But the general thought that we can all be “bettering” ourselves is a dangerous message, no healthier than airbrushed models on the cover of magazines.

The general self-help world is constantly screaming at you change change change.  Actually, it’s more like CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE.  And maybe… well… that’s doing more damage to your self-esteem than if you never sought out self-help materials in the first place.  I don’t believe the vast majority of us need to change.  I think the vast majority of us are a mixture of positive and negative traits, and the key is to use your positive traits and to acknowledge your negative traits and move on.  The only time you need to address those negative traits are if you can no longer live with them.  Since… you know… you have to always live with yourself.

Anyway, I did not think I would like this app and thought it would languish on my phone for a few weeks until I deleted it.  But that’s not what happened.  The pretty rainbow icon sucked me in.  I started chugging water and giving myself hugs.  I WAS HUGGING MYSELF, PEOPLE.  I am not a hugger by nature, and it was damn awkward to wrap my arms around myself, but I’ve been giving myself hugs every single morning.

I guess I like it because it’s self-help that fits firmly within my belief system above.  I don’t feel like the app is telling me to change.  It’s just telling me to be myself and to use my positive traits rather than only focus on the negative ones.

If you like games and you’re okay with using up a ton of post-it notes (there was a day that I had to leave positive affirmations around the house for myself), download SuperBetter.  I’m going to write about a few of the things I’ve learned from the app… and about myself.  So join along if you’re inclined or just read my experience if you’re not or skip any post that mentions SuperBetter because you just hate the idea of me being my best self.  That’s okay.  You can feel that way because I’m awesome.


I am simultaneously reading her book, and will also refer to that from time to time.  So… I guess I’m saying… if you kind of want to make this a club and become allies for one another (SuperBetter’ers will get that ally lingo), grab the app or the book and join me in talking this out.

P.S. When I’m not mistakenly calling it SuperBad, I am thinking of myself like a Saturday Night Live character who wears unfashionable clothing and reads self-help books and pumps her first in the air as the punchline shrieking, “SuperBetter!”


1 Conceptionally Challenged { 10.11.16 at 8:14 am }

Hm. I share your concerns about the unnecessary trend of self-help apps/books/… so this sounds intriguing. Looking forward to your updates. And maybe I’ll actually download the app.

2 Cristy { 10.11.16 at 8:29 am }

Now I’m intrigued. I tend to avoid anything in the self-help section simply because all the advice usually oversimplifies complex problems and one-size-fits-all usually yields the opposite of the advertised result. This sounds different. Or at least not as overpromising? Looking forward to hearing more.

3 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.11.16 at 9:45 am }

I already think you’re SuperAwesome.

4 Laurel Regan, CZT { 10.11.16 at 6:33 pm }

Love this! I’ve downloaded the app and will see where it takes me. Thank you!

5 em { 10.12.16 at 4:20 pm }

Somehow I’ve missed Notes to Self as a podcast to listen to. Would you do a small post on the podcasts you recommend? I’d be very interested.

6 Jess { 10.12.16 at 9:16 pm }

I love how awesome you are, and this post is proof (and I laughed out loud MULTIPLE times!). I do love the idea of always striving to be the best version of yourself — not a different you, but the best you. I’m not sure I could get behind the post-it notes because I once had a friend who was doing Mary Kay and she had to paper her house in post-it notes about how she could manifest the pink cadillac through awesome sales through cheerful post-it notes about BEING the Cadillac, and it kind of ruined that sort of thing for me. BUT, I like focusing on your positive traits. I do believe that you can work on things that aren’t so great without attempting to fundamentally change yourself. I can be super short-fused, and while this will likely not change I can find ways to cope with it and try to lengthen my fuse a bit, or lick my fingers and pinch it so it doesn’t burn. If that makes sense. I might have to check out Superbetter. ALthough I will never not be able to get the picture of you with your hands in the air shouting SUPERBETTER! like an SNL star. 🙂

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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