To live a fulfilling life, you need to be in continuous growth – mentally and emotionally. Life has many challenges and with continual personal growth you’re better equipped to deal with them.
Know what matters to you
It’s surprising how many people never really think about what they want in life. They just expect it to somehow come to them, as if wishing were enough. Well, it isn’t, whatever the “law of attraction” says. You have to know what matters to you if you’re going to achieve it, and once you know what it is you must then put effort into finding it. Do you love constantly learning something new? Is your priority animal welfare? Do you get a sense of fulfilment from helping people in need? Identify what matters to you most, and try to bring that into your life.
Cut out negativity
Everyone has negative people in their life, and they drag you down. These are the people who belittle our achievements, convince us we’re not capable of doing what we want, and criticise our appearance, relationships, and opinions. Others are constantly downbeat about their own lives and problems. And the sad fact is that they’re often the people closest to us, such as partner, friends or family. All this constant negativity can prevent us from being ourselves, and isn’t healthy or pleasant to be around.
So cut out as much negativity as you can. You may not be able to avoid these people altogether. But you can try to minimise the effect they have on you. Make a conscious decision not to be affected by their pessimism and disapproval. And if people really bring nothing to your life, you don’t have to keep them around you. Really, you don’t. Many people are happier for cutting out toxic relatives and friends.
Social media has a lot to answer for here, but the reality is that people have always compared themselves unfavourably with others. The neighbours have a nicer car, your friend is more beautiful, your brother earns three times as much as you do … But comparisons are useless. You don’t know what is really going on in their lives. Your brother may hate the pressure of his job. Your friend may hate attracting attention for her looks, or have health problems that make her life difficult. The neighbours may have inherited money, or bought the car on credit. Whatever the situation, you are living your life, not someone else’s, and comparing yourself to others will only make you unhappy, resentful, or angry. Stop worrying about other people. Concentrate on living the best life you can, for yourself. Social media only tells a part of the story.
Cultivate a healthy self-image
We can often be our own harshest critics. So the next time you catch yourself being uncomplimentary about your looks, what you’ve done with your life, or the kind of person you are, stop. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, then don’t say it to yourself. Everyone should be taught how to cultivate a healthy self-image. It’s not arrogant to be proud of your achievements or qualities. Being happy with who you are will help you be content in your life, and also make you a great person to be around. Loving yourself isn’t a cliché, it’s a must. And loving yourself means accepting your flaws, as well. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t try to be. You can improve and be a better version of yourself, but don’t try to live up to an ideal that’s not achievable.
Have a purpose
We need to have goals and a sense of purpose, otherwise we feel like we’re drifting. Those goals don’t need to be related to money or material things, though they can be about achievements. Happy people feel that they have a place and a purpose. Perhaps you feel their role is to help and nurture others. Then train to be a teacher, or volunteer your free time. Maybe you’ve always regretted not going to college. Then check out community college, or see whether you’d qualify for student loans. What about that book you wrote and never published? Anyone can publish an e-book. Get it edited and put it online.
You never know what is out there if you let yourself be open to new experiences. This is hard for anyone who’s introverted, but will enrich your life. Even a passing contact with someone you’ll never meet again can brighten your day. Take each opportunity to try something new. What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t like it, you don’t have to repeat it. But you may just meet that person who changes your life. The change may not be instant, but it will set the ball rolling. Also, don’t be afraid to open up to other people or be yourself. You won’t be to everyone’s taste, and that’s cool. But we worry too much about what other people think of us. Try reaching out, by offering help, inviting someone for coffee, or starting a conversation. By doing so, you are opening up possibilities. Someone has to take the initiative, and the other person may be as shy as you!
Be willing to grow and let go
Perhaps the most important factor in personal growth is being willing to do so. Change scares people. We get stuck in our ways, and convince ourselves that we’ll always be fearful, never achieve what we want, or find that lasting, happy relationship. But people evolve throughout their lives. Reassess your life every so often. You will not be the same person now that you were ten, twenty, maybe even five years ago. So don’t be afraid to let go of old thoughts, feelings and situations. That may also involve letting go of someone who doesn’t want you in their life any more, or deciding not to be someone who is used by others. Whatever it is, if it’s not working for you then it’s time to move on and grow as a person.
William Grigsby is a book addict and professional editor. He lives for literature and its seduction of Mankind.
Whatever challenges he goes through, he has one motto to rely on: keep reading, keep writing.