Should we ever stop growing?
Is there ever really a time we stop growing as a person? Do we ever learn enough or grow enough to reach the "destination" of our life? Do we ever fully master our lives, and should we?
Do we ever get there? It would be nice to think that one day we finally arrive at that final destination, the place where we have reached our life's goal, our Nirvana maybe. The place where we can finally stop striving and settle down with our legs crossed underneath a tree merely contemplating life. No more desires, wants, needs, goals, struggles or challenges.
The short answer is, No! To believe that we do, or can is quite simply an exercise in naivete. To be a human being is to be in a state of constant change, whether that be our bodies growing from young to old or in this case our minds and our hearts and our souls. Human nature dictates that once we have reached a goal or a destination or a state of mind, our minds will start looking around for something new, that is as it should be, we are hardwired for change whether we like it or not. We are hardwired for constantly looking for new challenges and new experiences.
We can however resist growth and change in our lives and become "comfortable" with life, but in my experience too much comfort experienced over a long period of time leads to boredom with one's life and ultimately dissatisfaction and feeling stuck and unhappy with life. Almost all my clients (and myself at times!), have uttered the words "there must be more to life than this" and this is always accompanied by that insidious feeling of being stuck! A life that has stalled and is not moving forward. And in almost every case the key to "un-sticking" yourself is to begin to move forward by embracing some sort of growth. There is no time to stop growing, and part of growth is doing personal development work of some sort whether it be reading books, listening to pod casts, reading these blogs, courses or videos, hobbies et cetera. Whatever we are doing requires growth. Parenting requires constant growth to be a good parent, health and fitness requires constant training/growth to become and stay fit and healthy. Being a great partner requires constant change and growth to not become complacent with ourselves or our relationship with our partner, the list goes on.
The bigger question is, why would we ever want to stop growing? Growth is about stretching ourselves, about not getting too comfortable and this is a good thing! It's like doing a killer cardio class at the gym, you know you've done a great workout when you've had to push yourself hard to the point where you thought "I can't do any more exercise, I'm dying here!" You see, stretching ourselves so we don't get too comfortable allows us to feel little uneasy, not as a punishment but as a way to grow past our old limits. Discomfort is the thing that helps us keep growing, it is the thing that keeps us reaching forward striving to better ourselves, to master ourselves and to never settle too long and get too comfortable.
What is the point of the journey?
For me the point of the journey, the point of constantly and consistently embracing growth in its many forms is so to get the most out of my life, to feel that I am not stagnating, to feel that my life has meant something and that when the end of my life comes around I can genuinely look back with a sense of satisfaction, a sense of having had a great journey, a journey that is unique to me and one that has been full of challenges and growth that have helped shape Me into the person I am. For me many things can fall under the umbrella of growth, such as personal development as we have discussed, hobbies, sport, travel, passions and pursuits, in fact anything that challenges us to be a little bit better than we were the day before.
"It is better to travel well than arrive" Buddha
The journey of life, of personal self-development, growth and change is a like a trip around Europe or (insert your favorite destination here....). Will you try to go from A to B in a straight line with no deviations and experiencing little, or will you embrace all of the detours along the way, the dead ends, the amazing unexpected stops along the way, the challenges, the successes and failures, and will you look at this journey as the best trip you've ever had?
I have traveled to Nepal many times now and have been to Everest base camp four times and I am often asked why do you go back there so often have you seen it all? My answer is always, I could never see it all, I could never experience it all, and every trip is unique with its own wonders, joys, challenges, hardships and amazing experiences. This to me is a great analogy for life and for growth in life. The point is not to focus on "getting there", the point is to embrace the journey and grow as much as you can along the way, and if this is in alignment with your life's philosophy and values (more on these later!), then you can be sure to have lived an engaged, passionate life.
The question to ask yourself now is; do I want to live a caged/comfortable life feeling stagnant, dissatisfied and stuck, or do I want to constantly challenge myself on a path of growth to live an engaged and inspired life, a life that as the same as a comfortable life will have its challenges but one in which we will be fully engaged moving forward and growing. And again, if your direction in life is in alignment with your life's philosophy and values you will never want to stop your growth in whatever form that takes because you will be living and experiencing a life of your design!
Growth and change can be challenging even painful at times, but, nothing is as painful as being stuck where you don't belong!
I'll finish with a quote from former US president Ronald Reagan "There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder".
We all have intelligence and the capacity for imagination and wonder, we all have the capacity for Growth!