From time to time, I hear people saying, almost bragging, “I have grown so much,” or they say it comparing with their partners: “It is difficult when one person grows and the other does not follow,” complaining about their relationships.
Each time I hear it, the thought crosses my mind, “They haven’t grown at all.” Whatever they grew, they boosted their ego as well, so, in total, as those characteristics cancel each other out, nothing really has been achieved.
Sometimes, there is that romantic attraction to new-age hippie trends, rebranded as hipsters finding their way into the 21st century. Just as the hippies, the new ones are promoting free art and fashion, sex and love, travel, spirituality, and the use of psychedelic substances, in order to tackle an overly-stressful life, with a new overcoat of a digital or green style of life. But, behind the curtains, it is just another way to numb the pain—just another addiction.
Usually, growth does not come in the form of smoking a joint and having wild sex with complete strangers. Growth always requires effort, just as growing one’s body requires exercise, healthy food and water.
Sometimes, those who decide to seek growth are accused of thinking that they are better than others.
Once, sitting at the bar slowly sipping my beer and watching a football game, I overheard someone asking a friend, “Do you think because you are doing all those things that you are better than us?”
And I wondered what I would answer to that.
Probably, “No I am not. I am not even trying. I am just trying to better myself for my own sake—nothing to do with anyone else. I am not competing with you, and, the more I gaze within, the more I am finding happiness in my own soul and mind.”
When a person is ill, and when s/he tries getting better, have you ever heard anyone saying, “Are you competing to be healthier than us?”
The patient will do all necessary things the doctor has prescribed in order to get better, to ease the pain, or to remove trauma.
The personal journey of rebuilding character is the same: we grow, we learn, and we change, and we do it to get mentally healthier and therefore become happier.
When we are healthy and fit, we do not feel any "healthy" sensation. We can say that we feel we can do anything, like there is no limit, or we feel strong, or we feel full of energy, but, generally, we do not notice our healthy condition. We notice only when we get ill. It is part of our nature; our body has pain receptors, but it does not have well-being receptors.
Equally, the mind is in a process that changes all the time, experiencing different emotional states: stress, depression, sadness, anger, fear. These can direct us to look for temporal fixes, becoming addicted to a range of things (work, internet, sex, porn, drugs, alcohol...), in an attempt to escape the pain and suffering — those "fixes" are deepening the condition even further.
To overcome bad feelings and find true happiness and open space for true love, we have to learn ways to get better.
Once you are healthy, you cannot become healthier. It is just a matter of maintaining state, and, if everything is good, it will allow you to live your life in happiness, allowing you to fulfil your true potential.
So, growth is not a competition, comparison, or challenge; it is our own thing—a way to start feeling better at our own pace, in our own time.
Those who truly grow, slowly as they get there, won’t notice, but the people around them will.
As they will become more patient, more tolerant, less likely to explode in impulsive reactions, friends will enjoy their company more. They won’t get sad that often, but it does not mean that they cannot feel sadness if, for instance, someone dies—it only means they will be able to live in the present, more than in the past or future.
It is our own choice: we can choose to stay where we are for our entire lives, or we can choose to learn new skills and things that will help us to communicate better and become healthier, and that is all.
When the inside world becomes more interesting than the outside one, then seeking approval, attention, acceptance, affection, and appreciation stop being your main folklore. Therefore, bragging, comparison, and judging are losing their purpose. After all, when you really grow, growth is happening from within, and the outside world does not affect you that much anymore.
At that point, even sheer existence—breathing, feeling any emotions, thinking, perceiving light, or sound—can make you happy beyond control. Everything becomes a current of infinite play and dance, and imbued with feeling of immense joy. The search for external stimuli ends, and what is found within becomes the fountain of happiness we can share with those around us.
So, I wish you to find your own fountain of happiness and joy. Stay on the yellow brick road and grow.