Nowadays we hear a lot about personal development.
People say we should constantly improve ourselves and be the best person we can be. The most efficient, most productive. Always hungry for changes and eager for development, never settle, never fully satisfied with the current situation.
The funny thing is that we also hear we should accept and embrace who we are, enjoy the present, appreciate life no matter what conditions we are in. We read that we should be happy with who we are and what we have, instead of always look for more.
But wait…. should we be happy the way we are, or should we constantly develop ourselves??
Well, that is a very good question!
Should we be happy with our current lives?
Enjoying what we have and appreciating the qualities of who we are is extremely important for our wellbeing.
That’s why we should train our brains to identify and be grateful for the good people we know, the good experiences we have and the nice things we own.
Even in difficult times (and we all go through them), we should make an effort not to ignore what is good.
But note that this doesn’t mean believing that everything that happens to us is good. Nor that everything happens for the best: maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But a big part of enjoying our lives is about making the best of what we have and what happens to us. Realizing that even in hard situations we can still find things that are good.
And this habit of paying attention to what is positive, even among difficulties, can really improve our wellbeing.
So yes, enjoy your life the way it is now as much as you can!
But what about personal development?
Personal development is often associated to change, either gradual or radical.
It involves learning about ourselves, understanding what is good and what could be different, and then taking action to move in the direction we want to develop
But didn’t we just say that we should make the most of what we have and appreciate our life as it is?
We did. So let’s have a look at some reasons why people might want to change themselves:
For a start, some people unfortunately live in truly harsh conditions. And of course, they have all the reasons in the world to want change.
But the truth is that even those who have good living standards often don’t feel truly satisfied. There are many reasons for that, including:
- being in a difficult situation, and rightfully wanting to change that,
- feeling unhappy with certain issues in life, even if overall things are ok,
- overall being satisfied, but still aiming for something better,
- pursuing healthier, more sustainable or more environmental-friendly lifestyles,
- exploring different possibilities life offers to us,
- among other countless possibilities.
And the truth is, these are all good reasons for wanting change and personal development!
The answer is in the middle
So, should we be happy with our current lives or seek self development?
If you ask us, our answer is: both!
We believe that the best approach includes appreciating our current lives as much as possible, yes. It involves expressing gratefulness for what we have. But it also includes not becoming exaggeratedly comfortable or averse to change!
The secret here is that these two mindsets, are not opposite to each other, but actually complimentary. We believe you can be happy with who you are, and at the same time pursue positive transformations.
No matter how good our current life is and how much we enjoy it, we should understand that change is a natural part of it. With that in mind, we should not only be open to transformations but if possible also seek opportunities that lead to positive change, renewal and long term prosperity for ourselves, the people around us, and our environment.
Being happy with ourselves and with our lives is not in opposition of seeking personal development and improvement.
Extremes are not so good
The problems appear when we lose this balance and either:
- become apathetic, believing that the difficult situations in our lives can’t be changed,
- start believing that happiness necessarily depends on being a certain way, owning a determined object, or going through a specific experience,
- develop resistance to changes,
- focus too much on the present, not giving any thought about the future,
- stop enjoying their current life, sacrificing the present for a future that may or may not happen,
- among others.
These stands are all too extreme.
A modern issue
Nowadays, we also face another challenge in the form of advertisements and social media. In principle, there is nothing wrong with these, and they can bring a lot of joy and convenience to our lives.
However, if we start believing that owning special products, doing particular things or behaving in a certain manner is the only way we can be happy, then we have a problem. And a big one!
It is easy to constantly compare ourselves to others and all the time find new products that we “must have”. But no matter how nice these are, they are most likely not essential for happiness. We need to learn to pursue what we want without linking our wellbeing or happiness to that. A certain detachment is necessary.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting products and experiences. They can make our lives richer and more interesting. But believing that they are the answer to all of your problems or the source of happiness is almost certainly an exaggeration.
Constant change is our permanent state
Change is necessary and inevitable. It happens constantly not only in our lives but in all of nature. Nothing stays the same very long.
And since change can’t be avoided, we encourage you to embrace it. If things are going to change, let’s try to make them change for better! Seek a balance between enjoying your current life and promoting positive transformations.
Change might be hard sometimes, it might be painful, it might bring discomfort. But it also promotes growth, development and renovation. It might not always be easy or pleasant, specially when things start to become different, but the transformational process strengthens and renews both mind and body.
By cultivating a positive attitude towards change, we turn personal development into an adventure instead of a burden or source of stress.
Being open to change and development will keep you in the present and prepare you for the future.
Cultivating balance for personal development
How do we maintain this delicate balance between enjoying our lives and at the same time embracing and promoting change?
As almost everything in life, it’s a matter of practice! The secret is training our minds to develop the appropriate mindset:
- Appreciating what is already good
- Seeing what can be improved
- promoting positive change
- Dealing with “enjoying” and “seeking change” without getting anxious or stressed
It’s all a matter of practice.
Which practices can help me achieve that?
Luckily, there are many! Here are a couple to get you started, and check back later because we will add more:
- Expressing gratitude for the good things we already have in our lives is a powerful tool for training our brains not only to see the good that surround us but also to appreciate it as much as possible, increasing wellbeing considerably.
- Cultivating a positive attitude and a belief in the potential of every individual. No matter how many problems we see in the world, the fact is that the current living standards are the highest in history. And there is a good chance they will keep increasing as we develop new technologies and we learn more about our minds, bodies, and society.
- Meditation is another invaluable practice for teaching us to become more present and at the same time more capable of dealing with reality and it’s constant transformations. It makes us more familiar with our thoughts, emotions and how they relate to things, people and events around us. It helps us become less anxious and accept not only things as they are now but also accept the fact that they will change, making us more prepared to deal with these transformations when they happen.