"It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing... I want to know
if you can be with joy,
mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful,
to be realistic,
to remember the limitations
of being human." -Oriah
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
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
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!
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
"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
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.
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.