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Rose and rosebuds

Welcome to the next article in the Foundations 101 series: Grow.

Why should I want to grow?

We live in a culture that tells us that if you’re not getting ahead, you’re falling behind. Our culture tells us that we need to be seeking promotion, advancement, bigger and better things. While getting a mansion or a million dollar salary or the newest technology won’t make you magically happy, there is a kernel of truth to this.

Learning new skills and knowledge brings excitement, novelty, and positive challenge into our lives. When those new skills and knowledge lead to a greater sense of who we are and our connection to the wider world, they can lead to true joy. On the flip side, a life without learning or challenge can lead to discontentment and monotony in a person’s life.

What kind of growth and learning leads to the good life?

  • Learning more about what makes you ‘tick’ so you can form habits and live a life more satisfying
  • Learning healthy coping skills so that you can recover after major challenges, grief, depression, or anxiety
  • Gaining new knowledge and seeing how the different pieces fit together
  • Learning new skills, gaining first-hand experience and creating something
  • Realizing that you can do something easier, quicker, or better than you ever could before
  • Learning more about your values and beliefs
  • Learning how to show up the world in a way that is consistent with your values and beliefs
  • Being able to share your knowledge, skills, or experience with other people and helping them to grow

I could have called this foundation ‘Learn,’ but it is about more than just the accumulation of knowledge and skills. It is about feeling that you are improving and getting closer to mastery. It is about how those new skills and knowledge change how you understand who you are, how you feel, how you show up in the world, and how you connect with the world and the people around you.

How does the learning stuff change who you are and how you think of the wider world?

It happens in the background slowly 1. And it happens deliberately when we reflect on what we are learning and what it says about us, the world, our community, and what it means to live the good life. Prayer, journaling, meditating, art therapy, and deep conversations are just some contemplative and reflective practices that a person could work with, but there are a whole lot more.

What is the quickest way to grow?

Being in a new environment or practicing new skills are great ways to feel like you are growing and stretching. At the beginning of any journey, the learning happens quickly and you are able to get quick wins. This blog is a great example of that for me. Every part of creating content and running this website is new to me. I don’t have a checklist or system in place for anything that I am doing relating to it. I am able to play around with new ideas and to learn how every piece works

I’d like to point out that this sort can be wonderful, but it can also be very stressful. When the stakes are high or you don’t feel safe to experiment (and possibly fail), you can feel more anxious than excited. It can also become too overwhelming if other parts of your life are also unfamiliar or unstable. It is reasonable to not want to take on a new big project when you’ve got other things on the go. That is good sense to be compassionate to yourself. It is also reasonable to not want to take on a new project when you’ve recently finished something. This is using the foundation of savour to enjoy where your efforts and/or good fortune have brought you. The foundations help to balance each other to bring you towards the good life and make now the good life.

New environments and skills are a great way to speed up learning, but it is not enough by itself. We also need to feel that we are getting closer to mastery. It is the joy that comes from being very good at whatever it is you are engaged with doing. It is the joy that is found in understanding something deeply and seeing the interconnections. It is a sense of pride in what you have accomplished or how far you have come. It is a sense of connection when you are able to help or teach other people.

Take home tips

  • Learning and growing are an essential foundation to the good life
  • Balance out your desire to grow with self-compassion and savoring the journey
  • When we reflect, we can be more deliberate and mindful on what the learning and growing means and how it effects us
  • New skills and environments lead to quick wins, and mastery leads to a deeper joy

I invite you to consider where you are growing in your life lately and how that is impacting who you are, who you are becoming, or how you see the good life.

Until next time, keep growing.

  1. I will be doing an article in the future on the Four Stages of Competence to discuss how this happens. If you just can’t wait, I’ll leave a link to the Wikipedia page here. Be careful not to fall into a rabbit hole :)

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