Thursday, May 2, 2013

Grow Yourself Some Happiness!


Probably the most important part of human existence is growth. We may not always acknowledge its importance, but this single thing has a profound effect on our lives.

Looking back on my own past, some of the unhappiest times of my life were a result of my feeling that I wasn’t growing. I felt like my hard work wasn’t paying off, I didn’t have control over my future and I wasn’t doing anything to improve my life.

I learn best from examples so I will continue to use my story as one:

            I was a senior in high school and had a dream of getting the hell out of Ohio and away from my family and current life. I often was at school an hour early to train with the boys basketball team and then stayed an hour after my own practice at night, not getting home till after 9pm. I was also taking an AP art class, among other AP classes, and had tons of requirements that needed to be done in order to get college credit. I also felt like I had to get an “A” in everything to please my parents and hopefully get an academic scholarship. I also had a lot of other very personal issues that were negatively affecting my life and everything led to unhappiness, a loss of friends, and an always exhausted, in every way possible, 18 year old girl. The worst part in my mind was that through all my sacrifice and hard work, my goals weren’t going to be reached any time soon and no growth would come from my labors.

I’m sure most people have felt like this at one time or another. What I recently realized however, was that we are still growing in moments like the ones I stated above and therefore we can improve the level of our happiness, no matter the situation. It just requires a different mindset from the one I had at that time.
This raises the question “how should I have gone about the situation to have grown from the situation at the given time, instead of months later?”

Possible Steps for Growth:

Step 1) Take a Breath and Ask Questions

            In such a fast paced world, it’s easy to lose track of ourselves. Sure, you may know where you physically are, but your mind can get lost in the chaos and input from the world around you and even from the people close to you.

            It is vital to your growth and happiness that you continually take a look at your life and mind. To do this you need to always question your actions and choices. You need to come up with your own questions but I’ll give some examples questions and answers with my above story in mind:

            Q-How can I learn from my current situation?    Q-Why am I unhappy in this aspect of my life?
            Q-What actions can I take to grow and change my situation?

“I’m doing too much and I need to find a better balance. Something needs to give, like going to school early or staying at practice late. Also, I’m really not enjoying what I’m doing. I’m playing basketball to get a scholarship to escape my life, but I’m really not enjoying it as much as I should. Some of the choices I’m making such as taking caffeine pills to stay awake and other things to help me relax may be making things better for an hour or two, but are making my life as a whole worse. Part of the reason I’m unhappy is because I’m not enjoying what I’m doing so the first part of my solution needs to be finding what makes me happy. While I do want to live out of Ohio and travel to new places, reaching that goal by doing something I don’t enjoy probably isn’t going to get me anywhere…”

Step 2) Make Time To Think About YOU

            Most people can’t just drop everything. That’s okay. But what you need to do is make it a priority, just like eating or going to work, to make time to use your beautiful mind for yourself. It’s when you stop listening to yourself that you end up in a place where you don’t feel like you’re growing.

Step 3) Make a Plan

            Now that you made a little time to think, you need to make a plan on how to grow. You already asked yourself some questions and hopefully found some answers, but you need to actually make a plan if you want things to change. Don’t make this harder than it is, but studies show that if you write things down, you’re more likely to do them. Start as small or as big as you want. Your plan can involve anything from reading a book to applying to new jobs.
Not like the growing pains you
had as a kid!

Step 4) Start Growing

            So you actually have been growing already if you have done the previous steps, but this is the time when actual changes in your life need to show, otherwise you’ll be a seed that hasn’t sprouted. This is probably the hardest step so be kind to yourself if things don’t go as planned and don’t get discouraged. In other words be ready for growing pains! It won’t be like the physical pains you had when you were growing taller as a kid, but there will be some mental growing pains as you enter new situations and push yourself to be better.

 I heard a great saying the other day that went something like:

            "In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."

Trust your desire and make sure to keep that desire going!

Step 5) Keep the Questions Coming

            As you continue to learn and grow, you need to keep asking yourself questions about your life. As I said before, humans have to learn and grow in order to be happy. Thus, you always need to ask yourself questions and put yourself in situations you can grow from.

            Of course, the steps given are just suggestions. I realize everyone is different, but everyone is similar in the need for growth in their minds, relationships, careers, etc. It’s the lessons that you have learned and grown from that make you who you are today. In order to reach the best version of yourself, you must be constantly learning to grow. Your impact on the world will become greater if you take time to do this.

My sister Rachel has a great way to keep growing every month by setting monthly goals. Check out how her April goals went and what her May goals are here:

Be sure to check back soon to see pictures of mine and Sage's summer home in the woods as well as some posts about health! 


  1. Those are very clear and concise steps for personal growth. I for one, have trouble getting over things, sometime I tend to ponder on the mishaps that came by long after it has passed, so it not only held me back but it also was very stressful being constantly reminded of the past.

  2. Thanks for the response! At the end of the steps I wrote "Of course, the steps given are just suggestions." I used my own past to realize how much I have grown but when growing it's most important to look at your present situation from all angles.
    Best of luck in your journey!


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