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How do you know?

Photo by Robert J. Morales Half Dome at sunset

“Personal development ought to be a daily objective for everyone”

Are there common signs or indicators which plainly tell us when we have developed emotionally? How do we know when there has been any kind of self-growth or personal development? Shouldn’t the answers be as evident as a bolt of lightning or a crash of thunder?

When my healing journey began in mid-2012, I can recall some “aha” moments where I began to get a better understanding of who I was. Typically, they were not moments of fanfare or jubilation but smaller instances which felt more like a light becoming brighter in a poorly-lit room. If there was a moment which I would consider my most significant realization, it would have to be the session which I fondly refer to as my own Independence Day. On February 22, 2013, everything clicked and I knew moving forward things were going to be better.

There are no set patterns for when it occurs and there are also times personal growth happens when we aren’t even aware. Recently, I reconnected with someone I knew 30 years ago. He had heard about my book and wanted to purchase a copy. A month later, he was in Las Vegas and we arranged to meet and discuss questions he had concerning my book. The subject of happiness came up and as an example, he explained to me that after working for years on his home and spending tens of thousands of dollars, he expected to feel much happier when it was finally completed.

I could see a puzzling look on his face when he realized this pursuit for happiness didn’t work as well as he’d imagined. It was an “aha” moment for him but certainly not one of those joyous moments we prefer to happen with personal development.

“Sometimes” I told him, “Self-growth just sucks” causing us both to chuckle. Frequently, when this kind of growth occurs, it’s because we discovered something about ourselves which needs changing or improving. Admitting to this is not easy. It hints of failure because of the realization that our thinking or actions were wrong. However, once we commit to fixing it, we quickly feel better about coming to this understanding.

Our conversation about happiness continued; this time with a positive “aha” moment. He explained the night before was the first time he’d ever been in Las Vegas by himself and could have gone anywhere and done anything he wanted. However, it was late and he decided to stay in his room. Another bewildered look appeared but after discussing it, he realized he didn’t need the excitement of the Las Vegas Strip that evening so he went to bed.

“Isn’t that what happiness is about” I asked. “Simply being at a place of contentment so that we don’t need anything else to fill some perceived void”?

This time there was a different, more pleasant gaze. The satisfying look of accomplishment. I don’t know about him, but that is one “aha” moment I will never forget.

Personal growth and development can be a daily occurrence. It doesn’t need to feel like a huge triumph and may feel like a temporary set back. The moments of victory will happen but focus each day on something that will influence you to be a more positive human being.

My thanks to Robert J. Morales for the beautiful photograph. You can see hundreds more of his shots at Thank you and I look forward to your comments.

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