4 pillars of self-development
CHIARA TOWNLEY describes four human qualities that have helped to remain open and keep her sense of wonder alive.
In the first years of life, we are eager to learn how to walk and speak. Then we go to school and study a variety of subjects – our minds are open to receive, like sponges. When we become adults, we spend more time reinforcing our existing beliefs and creating separation between us and ‘the other’, instead of learning from our differences. Self-development is not possible if we close ourselves into our cocoon; but if we keep our sense of wonder alive we will discover a lot about ourselves and the world. These four pillars can help us in our growth, regardless of our background and beliefs:
We were born with curiosity, but some of us lose it when we become adults. We don’t have to go back to school to learn new things: self-teaching through books and videos is a great way to nurture any interest we have and go deeper. I read a lot and take every conversation with people I love, or strangers, as a way to learn something new. Everyone else has something to teach us, and we have something to teach them.
As we become aware of the world around us and get in touch with our feelings, we create a space to hold our emotions and the emotions of others. We feel them, accept them, and learn how to deal with them. We start to look at the suffering of other people with different eyes – the eyes of compassion. We stop judging ourselves and others, and extend the love to all creatures around us. Being very emotional, sometimes I suffer because of the pain other people feel. If you are like me, you may want to use meditation to find detachment. Eastern philosophies teach us that compassion and non-attachment go hand in hand.
Being able to observe what is going on around us and inside us, and being in touch with our emotions, are essential traits to nurture. Awareness and self-awareness are crucial to create a healthy relationship with the world and ourselves. When we approach life only in a very rational way, it can be hard to connect with our feelings. Disciplines like meditation can help. It’s essential to take a moment to breathe and investigate what is going on inside us.
The next stage is the will to contribute to making the world a better place. Nobody can save the world alone, but every little action counts. Not all of us can afford to give to charities, or do a job we love, but what matters is the way we do what we do. If we clean the streets with dignity and the desire to help our community, we are doing a service. When I was younger I wanted to be a psychologist, but I abandoned the idea because I knew I wouldn’t be able to detach myself from the life of my patients. My service is to write to inspire other people without risking my emotional balance.
Service is the final stage of self-development, because it includes all the lessons previously learned and keeps them alive.
Article by CHIARA TOWNLEY
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