The human search for happiness is as inherent as our instinct to breathe. We all want satisfaction, contentment and joy in our lives. From the time of our first entrance into the world, we are seeking means to feel good about ourselves and our circumstances, whatever they may be. The search for happiness entails growth. Constant personal growth. As we recover from setbacks, bounce back from mistakes, and encounter obstacles, it is necessary to revamp our perspectives and learn new skills to resume a sense of contentment in life.
It may seem to go without saying that if happiness is the result of growth, then it is worth the work. Nevertheless, it is more complicated than that. Growth is hard work. And, although the outcome may be wonderful, the process can be painful.
Often people get stuck in the cycle of trying to get others to change and thinking that will make them happier. Focusing on what others need to change doesn’t get the change that most people are actually seeking. The trouble is that we can’t make other people change, and if that is what our happiness is contingent upon, then we are always at the mercy of others.
What brings us happiness is often a moving target. If it follows that growth is a pursuit of happiness, then it would follow that growth is a never-ending process. We grow, but circumstances change. Growth requires flexibility and acceptance of the fact that we are ever changing beings. Maintaining mindfulness and enjoyment of the journey is what ultimately brings enduring satisfaction.
There are many ways to pursue personal growth, but here are a few suggestions to jumpstart the process of bringing conscious change into your life.
- Know yourself.What do you love about who you are right now? The best starting point is knowing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally. Recognizing that your worth is not dependent on change or growth opens you to feeling less defensive and more receptive to opportunities for growth and change.
- Spend less time on social media (and online) and focus more on living your life. Social media breeds comparison of lifestyles, jobs, appearances and more. Remember, what you see on social media is a distortion of reality. People depict what they want others to see, and not necessarily what their lives are really like. So, focus on your life. Enjoy it and live it.
- Spend more time in nature. It’s rare that being in nature doesn’t make you feel better. Just breathing in the fresh air and putting the world around you into perspective can help you to reset and feel renewed.
- Maintain a thankful list. No matter what, there is always something for which to be thankful. Make a list of three things each day for which you are thankful. The catch to this list is that they can never be the same three things. This challenge will help you look at the world in a whole new way.
- Learn something new. Make time to take a class, read a book, attend a lecture. Learning new things fosters personal development and insight in a way that other endeavors can’t. It exposes you to new thoughts and new people, both of which are important contributors to personal growth.
- Write down your thoughts. Journaling and reflecting on your insights, thoughts and aspirations can help you to look at things objectively and can be a key piece of fostering growth.
- Reflect on just a few personal goals. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Choose just a couple areas that you feel inspired to change and start with those. Most importantly, enjoy the process. The journey of life is full of opportunities to learn along the way.
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC www.greenwoodcounselingcenter.com