Growth

 

PREAMBLE

In the previous article—in the part 1 of this series, we discussed on the inevitability as human beings, at times , to make mistakes, fail in planned endeavours or get involved in inevitable  bad actions. These could arise from ignorance in the intellect, weakness in the will and the influence of uncontrolled passions. Rather than these mistakes/failures/bad actions becoming sources of despair and despondency, they can be used as opportunities for growth; this requires deep humility and a radical and complete dependence of the person on God the Creator.

Obviously, this is easier said than done; it will require acquiring skills relating to self –awareness and other self-improvement skills and constantly putting them into practice. There will be need to Learn, Re-Learn and Un-Learn as often as necessary to attain this lofty goal of turning all failures, mistakes and inevitable bad actions into opportunities for growth. In this write-up, we shall see how this can be attained. The following attributes are necessary for using all circumstances and events of one’s life as opportunities for growth:

SPORTING SPIRIT

At times you set goals and work towards meeting up with them; when you fail to meet up to expectations, ask yourself ‘WHY’- take note of the answers you get to the “WHY” and work towards rectification and improvement. You may have set  unrealistic goals that proved too difficult to meet up with; take a closer look and see how you may reset the goals, starting from “small wins” and gradually, setting the bar higher.

Be determined never to be dismayed or discouraged at failure; accept the fact you have failed immediately, with no excuses, subterfuges, blame –game, escapism  and other negative reactions. Be ready to learn from mistakes. Continue to be hopeful and optimistic, performing your duties faithfully and perseveringly.

SPIRIT OF SERVICE

Nations and Organizations are deemed successful if the citizens or individuals enjoy prompt effective and efficient services in all dimensions. The enjoyment of such services is the fruit of the effort of the people who would  have put this spirit of service into practice.

We are born to serve, The human person becomes fulfilled when he or she lives an intense spirit of service. Virtues like industriousness, humility, meekness, generosity, magnanimity are virtues exercised when  one exercises  a spirit of service. There should be a burning ambition to make the world a better  place with your presence; there should be  that loving concern for our fellow human beings. Nothing paralyzes the will as much as selfishness, which is ingrained  in human nature. Selfishness and all self-centred tendencies have to be vigorously fought against and eliminated in our character  because it is  akin to cancer of the soul. Without this lively spirit of service, we may see other people as stepping stones to be used; we develop a sense of “entitlement” and our horizons become narrower and narrower. Just as virtue promotes virtue, unfortunately, vice promotes vice. Vices that can crop up when one allows oneself to be dominated by self-centred tendencies are sloth, great levels of intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts and other negative tendencies all of  which mar mental health considerably.

LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR

A neighbour can be  broadly defined as someone who lives near us or close to us; that means that our closest neighbours naturally can be our family members and then extended to others. Love resides in the Will; if we can train our intellects to affirm that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, then it will be easy to desire and will the good towards others. That way we can be more tolerant of others, forgive more easily and be more eager to be at the service of others.

Have the habit of desiring the best for others, seeing and serving God in others; That way, it will be easier to forgo our own selfish interests and focus on the well being and interest of others. If we develop the mental habit of praying for others, desiring the best for them, doing good to others at all times, we will contribute a great deal to improving society, our own well being and the well being of others.

Engaging in acts of kindness produce oxytocin (the “bonding hormone”) and  endorphins- the brain’s natural painkillers, easing pain and increasing energy; it helps reduce stress, increases self esteem, empathy, and compassion; it also improves the mood. Research shows that perpetually kind people have considerably less stress hormone in them.

Love helps to open wider horizons and vision-making room for ardent desires for self-improvement and self-giving.

THE PAST

The past should be looked upon with a lot of gratitude to God for having granted us the opportunity to accomplish whatever we may have been able to accomplish and also to have been able to learn from our mistakes. The most important time is NOW! Even if one has  been enslaved by the weaknesses of human nature for a long time in the past,it is always possible to rectify and turn a new leaf as long as one is alive. We can always begin again to strive for perfection and make the best  use of all circumstances to grow in virtues.

FEELINGS AND OBJECTIVITY

Feelings or emotions or passions  should be properly controlled so as to help  us  be  the best version  of ourselves as rational beings. It is of utmost importance that we remain fully in charge of our actions and not get carried away by feelings which can be fleeting and unpredictable. Feelings should be used to intensify the goodness of our thoughts, words and  actions.

Feelings are responsible for attitudes like repugnance, hatred, aversion etc. These can be properly controlled through the will.  Uncontrolled passions will lead  to bad decisions and actions and consequently, lead to  lost opportunities for growth.

CONCLUSION

The human person is unique and unrepeatable-endowed with powers which can be developed and nurtured to growth in the varying circumstances of life. Every event and circumstance of one’s life can be an opportunity for growth depending on one’s formation or outlook in life.

It is worthwhile acquiring the skills that enables one exercise that high level of self-mastery that brings about growth using all circumstances and events of life. The principal skill to acquire is love-the Queen of virtues; indeed love conquers all things. With love in place, will emerge fruits of well being and growth, including mental health flourishing.

Caroline Ademiluyi is a Lagos, Nigeria based Pharmacist.

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