I gathered in this part of my website the essays I have written about personal growth and development. I want to share the lessons and insights I learned from motivational speakers whose books (and videos on YouTube) have given me the blueprint on how best I could restructure my way of thinking so I could make better decisions in the different areas of my life.
I have been experiencing amazing changes in my life that I started regretting why didn’t I dig into these personal development stuffs when I was younger. I have heard a lot about “positive thinking” and related ideas before but I did not pay attention. But as the saying goes, “better late than never.”
I came to realize that “positive thinking” is but the first step in a person’s journey to a better self and a better life. It’s not the be-all-end-all of personal growth and development. But it all begins in setting a positive mindset. Positive actions should follow. People are in a better position to succeed when they break free from limiting beliefs and debilitating attitudes.
My goal in writing these essays and have them put together in this corner of my website is to help promote awareness on personal growth and development. I am not (yet) an expert in this field. I just want to share the little things I have learned so far and to say that I am so happy with the results I am getting.
I do have a friend who would usually be mistakenly identified as me. There were many instances that people in the university where both of us are teaching called me by his name and him by mine. Why? I am not a dead ringer for him but very likely that our similar built, height and rounded face would make people commit that mistake.
Seemingly bemused, he asked me one time, “Why would they think I am you? Do I look as old as you are?” I paused for a while, smiled then told him jokingly, “No, I think I just look as young and handsome as you are.”
As my friend laughed at my response, I thought that the contrasting way we looked at the issue has opened an opportunity for me to revisit the topic “perspective.”
That (perspective) is one of the most amazing things about us humans – our tendency to look at the same thing differently.
Anything in this world can be viewed from different perspectives. We get to decide at what angle we would look at circumstances, problems, events and even objects using lenses that are uniquely ours. We tend to measure the value of those things using our own sets of standards and label and define them according to our beliefs. Those standards and beliefs are shaped by the way we were raised by our parents, trained by our teachers, influenced by the people around us, and conditioned by our culture.
The sum total of the experiences we accumulated since birth and the amount and quality of information we gathered through the years from different sources are the factors that contribute to the kind of perspectives we develop as persons. Our way of viewing things depends on the belief system that those experiences and information impressed upon us.
Each person is entitled to embrace a particular attitude towards something. There are no specific measurement to determine the rightness and wrongness of perspectives. Only the consequences of a person’s action (or the lack of it) as a result of embracing certain perspectives could perhaps be labeled as right or wrong.
When we are about to take a perspective it’s like we’re positioning ourselves in the number scale and decide whether to go north or south. We can either be positive or negative with our perspective. Those are the only directions we could take when we look at issues and circumstances confronting us. It’s a matter of choice.
Perspective is said to be like a coin, it only has two sides. We flip the coin and choose either “head” or “tail.”
Our perspectives affect the decisions we make. They inform the things we think, say and do. Thus, while we are entitled to have any kind of perspective, in the same manner that we are entitled to our own opinions, we have to understand that we will bear whatever consequences there may be for embracing the perspectives we take.
We also need to understand that we could not assume that what we believe or see is definitive. Different people have different ways of looking at things. The perspective of the world that dictates the lens through which we see it is not the same for everybody. We need to develop the ability to see things from another’s viewpoint.
Perspectives can either be broad or narrow.
Having a broad perspective means being able to see the bigger picture. `
I once had a conversation with another friend about working conditions. He bewailed the fact that a truck driver in his country earns more than what he is earning in a year as an expat teacher. After listening to his litany, I told him to pause for a while and dig deeper into his comparison and consider other factors like number of required work hours and the physical demands for the job. When computing the number of hours, I reminded him that we as teachers are not actually working during winter and summer breaks but we get paid in full by the university as stipulated in our contracts.
He realized at the end that his pay per hour is actually higher than the truck driver and his working conditions are much better.
It is not really hard to train the mind to look at the bigger picture. It is easy to look beyond the obvious if only we’re open-minded. It does not require a special kind of training. All we need is common sense.
There are a lot more that could be explored in the discussion of perspective. At the end, the thing that matters is the answer to the question, “How do our perspectives affect the way we live?”
If the lenses we are using to view the world have brought us success and happiness, why change them. We’ve been told many times, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what about if those lenses are seemingly broken and have caused us nothing but failure and misery? Is it time to visit an OPTIMIST?
“Positive thinking” as a concept is like a narrow street that seemingly leads to nowhere. When you embrace it and take the first few steps forward, it would make you feel like you’re not going anywhere.
Consider that normal. When you venture into the unknown and leave your comfort zone, it’s normal to feel iffy. It is your old negative mental programming taking control of your thought processes. As you take a few more steps forward, doubts would start to set in and you’ll be tempted to go back where you came from. That temptation to abandon the journey just beginning would become stronger when people around you start saying how crazy you are to even believe that “positive thinking” works. But should you succeed in conquering all the negative chatters and take the courage to just keep on walking you would soon hit the main road.
The main road that narrow street called “positive thinking” leads to is “personal growth and development.” That was what I personally discovered.
When I decided to dive deeper into “positive thinking,” I realized that it is but the tip of the iceberg. “Positive thinking” is not the main thing. “Personal growth and development” is.
My journey to “positive thinking” started with my accidental discovery of a “self-help” film. I stopped by a stall selling old (pirated) DVDs of old movies. The label (title) of the one of the DVDs – “The Secret” – caught my attention. It intrigued me. So, I picked it up thinking that it’s either a mystery-thriller or a sci-fi movie.
I described in full that encounter with “The Secret” in my essay entitled “Beyond Positive Thinking.”
It is that “self-help” film that got me into positive thinking. For me, anything that advocates positive change is worth my time and worth trying. I though I had nothing to lose but everything to gain when I decided to give it a try.
When I watched that film for the second time, I took off my “critic’s hat” and emptied my mind of all those philosophies that tried to filter all the information the film conveyed and was leading me to analysis paralysis. Anyway, all of those philosophies – all of those isms – which I previously learned were seemingly not leading me to what I want to be and what I want to achieve. Honestly, at that point in my life, I was not even so certain of what I really wanted to be and what I really wanted to achieve. That “self-help” film offered me an option, an opportunity to try another system of beliefs that might help me have clarity of purpose.
I really thought then that my PhD would transform me into the best version of myself. I was wrong.
So, I took a leap of faith and embraced “positive thinking.” I walked down that narrow street that seemingly led to nowhere. I struggled but succeeded in overcoming doubts, in shooting down skepticism, and in turning a deaf ear to the internal and external negative chatters.
And I don’t regret that decision I made.
Then I probed deeper. I read existing literature about “positive thinking” and watched lots of videos about it. That’s how I came to discover that it (“positive thinking”) is the narrow street that leads to the maid road called “personal growth and development.”
“Positive thinking” is the springboard to “personal growth and development.” The former is the key to unlocking the latter. I strongly believe that only when a person develops dispositional optimism, when that person expects good things to happen, and when that person hopes that he/she could be a better person and live a better life that he/she would become open to the idea of undertaking the necessary steps to venture seriously into growing and developing further as a person.
When I reached the end of that narrow street of “positive thinking” and got to the main road of “personal growth and development,” I confirmed that indeed it (“positive thinking”) is just the beginning of the journey. The road ahead is long and winding. There’s much to be done. After the “thinking” comes the “doing.”
I discovered that in order to experience meaningful growth and development as a person, it would take more than “positive thinking.” There are other requirements aside from having a positive mindset. There are other things that ought to be done and these are what the gurus of “personal growth and development” commonly describe as the practices and habits that made extremely successful people who and what they are. These people became the best versions of themselves and had found the happiness, good health, and wealth they sought because of such practices and habits.
These practices and habits are actually very practical ones. They are not magical and out of this world stuffs. They are as follows: knowing your whys; embracing a solid belief system; goal setting; short and long-term planning; managing time effectively; developing self-discipline; practicing mindfulness; being purposive; becoming self-sufficient; and living a balanced life.
These are the things that Brendon Burchard, Tom Bilyeu, Jim Rohn, Wayne Dyer, Les Brown, Joe Dispenza, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, Mel Robbins, and the like, recommend to people intending to maximize their potentials.
The above-mentioned experts in the field of “personal growth and development” pointed out also that extremely successful people have a common hobby – reading. They also practice meditation.
What I consider as the most significant among those practices or habits of people who reached the pinnacle of success in their fields of endeavors is “living a balanced life.”
“Balanced life” is a concept difficult to define definitively. It is so because people have different priorities and live different kinds of life.
But when I sifted through the works of advocates of “personal growth and development” I saw a common pattern about living a “balanced life” that made me understand what the concept is. And it is not rocket science.
Firstly – as people work hard to achieve what they want in life – money, degree, fame, and what have you – they should not disregard their health and relationships. Not disregarding health means eating the right food, getting enough rest, and exercising regularly. Not disregarding relationships means not forgetting that you have a family and friends needing your attention too.
Secondly (and lastly) – become a well-rounded person. Becoming a well-rounded person means bearing in mind that you are a physical, intellectual, emotional, and a social being (insert spiritual if you happen to believe in God). You should strive to develop in all these areas.
This is how far “positive thinking” brought me – to the discovery of these “personal growth and development” practices and habits. They seem to be simple, but believe me, they are easier said than done – especially if you have a fixed mindset and you keep looking at life and the world using a negative perspective.