Growth occurs in human life in a variety of different ways, some pleasant and some not so! Unlike change, which is relentless and inevitable, growth has to be chosen. At certain points in life, we are faced with clear crossroads and we can accept the lessons offered or continue our lives in the same old ways, refusing to relinquish obsolete beliefs and patterns. It’s better to go quietly into the new day than to be dragged kicking and screaming. If it’s voluntary, one assumes it would hurt less and benefit more.

I have never subscribed to the belief, `no pain, no gain.’ In fact, I pray every day that my lessons in life are painless and effortless, not because I’m spiritually lazy but because I figure that I get what I expect and I’m allowed to grow and heal in a gentle, loving way if that’s what I wish. As a therapist, I would advocate kinesiology over rebirthing or primal screaming, journalising over confrontation and so on. Keep it simple but be fully committed. I see the benefits of challenging oneself but not unnecessarily, not to the point of becoming addicted to the pain.
How then might we grow in our daily lives without the drama, without extraneous suffering?

* Embrace growth with ease.
* Be open and unafraid
* Surround yourself with people who support you in your journey
* Do things that stretch you out of your comfort zone
* Be patient with yourself
* One day at a time - let healing take its own time
* Practise forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love
* Always retain a sense of humour and fun

Personal growth is what I do in my job, whether I’m teaching, counselling, running seminars, speaking on the radio or writing articles. I try to help people live happier lives and be more fulfilled. What I understand this to mean is that learning is a lifetime’s pursuit, that self-knowledge is an ongoing process, that each one of us is always a work in progress. There is no shame in not being perfect, only in pretending to be. There’s no shame in making mistakes as long as we are prepared to acknowledge failings and move on after we see where we went wrong. There is only shame in being blind, arrogant, uncompromising and intolerant.

Growth is all around us. We see it in nature, in our children, in all of life surroundng us. Where we get to feel it is in our souls. If every single day, we realise one more small piece of ourselves and unlearn a self-defeating habit; forgive a family member or friend and practise being less hard on ourselves; care more for others and take ourselves less seriously - we are growing.

We grow by inches mostly and then every so often, life will throw us a huge curve ball and all our preconceptions and safeguards come tumbling down. Suddenly, we make enormous progress in one giant step. Either way, we grow via living each day to its fullest potential. Even if you believe in multiple lifetimes, you’re never going to live your present life again so don’t walk through it as if it doesn’t matter or throw it away with meaningless, wasteful activities. Make it all count for something. Take what you have, whatever ability or talent and nurture it, watch it blossom, let it grow, and along with it, yourself.

Author's Bio: 

dr charmaine saunders is a therapist, columnist, lecturer, content provider, media commentator and author of 6 self-help books.