I started reading about personal development when I was 18. As time went by, I became interested in learning more and more, going from emotional intelligence to nutrition books.
As my reading progressed, I came to notice a pattern. Personal development can be broken down into 4 distinct areas: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
I’ve tried finding the essentials from each area and that’s what this article is about.
1. The Physical
The human body is the home of the mind, heart, and soul. An individual can’t thrive in an unhealthy body. The body’s energy level influences other areas of life.
It’s harder to be happy if you’re always tired or suffering from a chronic illness. It’s hard to think about personal growth when your body is making it hard for you.
You can nurture your body with physical exercises, a healthy diet, eating at the right hours and getting proper sleep.
An emotionally intelligent person is someone that can understand and control his emotions to best suit his goals and needs.
It’s important to understand that we, as humans, can choose our state of mind. We can choose to be irritated, frustrated, we can choose to attack or analyze, and we can choose to be happy or unhappy.
Emotional maturity can be reached with meaningful experiences that generate positive emotions. You need emotional well-being in your life if you are to function at maximum capacity.
There will also be times when you will experience difficulties: you will make mistakes, either towards others or to yourself. You will experience misfortune, rejection, and disappointment. Sometimes it will be your fault and other times; the situation will be out of your control.
An emotionally mature person knows when negative emotions are justified. Also, an emotionally intelligent person will not react to his emotions. He will wait until he is in a calmer state of mind because he knows that his emotions might cloud his judgment.
The area that seems the easiest to develop is the mental side. Your mind is like a computer that stores software and gets its hardware upgraded as you install more and more programs.
For example, when you install “Chinese Language” in your mind, your “Memory capacity” will also be upgraded. However, unlike a computer, which could easily stand the test of time if left unused, the mind will become slower as the neural connections weaken because of inactivity.
Here are several ways in which you can keep your mind sharp:
- Read as much as you can. In addition to the added benefit of installing new “software” in your mind, you will expand your perception by being able to relate to more aspects of life. Remember this: “Knowledge is power.”
- Chess is one of the most widespread “mind-sports” and will greatly benefit your brain activity.
- Use Lumosity, a great service designed to improve attention, memory flexibility and problem-solving
This is the area of personal development that I personally feel I’m the least accustomed to. In my early days of “walking the personal development world,” I was skeptical about everything related to spirituality, believing that it’s just some other tool used to make money out of naivety.
Growth from a spiritual point of view can be loosely defined by creating a deeper connection with our innermost being.
Contrary to popular belief, we are not what our mind perceives to be, our body is merely the house in which we live in, and our emotions are temporary states of consciousness. Remove emotions, thoughts and the body, and we are left with what many religions preach that will live on eternally: the soul.
There are a few methods (aside from nurturing honesty and compassion) that will help you grow spiritually:
- Meditation. I usually practice meditation every morning for 10-20 minutes. It helps with concentration and maintaining calm when needed
- Yoga is one of the best ways to connect with your body.
- Develop your intuition
Intuition is the capacity to make choices based on your subconscious (i.e., gut feeling), to process large quantities of information with no apparent effort and to “feel” that you are on the right path.
Gary Klein, a renowned psychologist who studied the way in which people make decisions in “fight or flight” situations, concluded that the prime element on which intuition is based on is experience. We intuitively take decisions based on past experiences. The more experience we accumulate, the more adept we become at using our intuition.
These four elements constitute the aspects of life that you must tend to if you want to grow harmoniously as a human being. They are in no way independent from each other. They are interdependent to each other with varying degrees.
Anybody that wants to grow as a human being and not just become a “smarter” person should take into account all the aspects that must be nurtured. Balance is everything.