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Self-improvement products in the U.S. bring in an estimated 9.9 billion dollars annually according to the latest data, a seemingly massive industry. That is until you compare it to the music and film industries, which come in at a whopping 61 billion dollars combined. Or the beauty industry at an enormous 265 billion. Now that’s a behemoth.
What these impressive numbers tell us is that Americans spend nearly 33 times more of their hard-earned cash on music, movies, and personal appearance than they do on personal growth.
Of course, the numbers aren’t a big surprise — our society is driven by appearances and instant gratification. We all want to look good and enjoy ourselves. But the data may be illustrating just how out of whack our priorities really are.
Assuming we could collectively use a swift kick in the pants to adjust those priorities, let’s review some great reasons to actively pursue personal development, at any age.
Those who actively pursue personal development enjoy the following ten advantages:
Relationships — with your family, children, co-workers, lovers and even that primary relationship with yourself – are the foundation of life. You can’t avoid them (even when you may wish to).
When your relationships are low-quality, your life is low quality. Conversely, when your relationships are healthy and vibrant, you will reap the benefits in profound ways.
Learning and building good relationship skills is an essential part of any personal development plan. People who consciously and deliberately build interpersonal skillsexperience greater satisfaction in relationships of all kinds.
Given the killer that stress has turned out to be, and how quickly it negatively impacts our overall quality of life, anything that reduces stress would be worth pursuing, don’t you think?
By making personal development a habit, particularly with regards to stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness practices, you will be better able to identify, manage and even eliminate key sources of stress in your life.
This one follows very nicely from our first two advantages above.
The link between stress and health is undeniable; more stress equals more disease. Happier and healthier relationships equals less stress, and the more equipped we are to manage and reduce stress, the better our overall health becomes.
The tools and teachings of personal development and self-improvement give us a better understanding of ourselves and of the world around us. The more you understand, the more equipped you become to handle whatever life throws at you.
People who have learned to manage the challenges and stressors of life have fewer lifestyle-related diseases, and may enjoy a prolonged lifespan as a result.
The number one enemy of productivity is procrastination. And procrastination is often driven by deeper emotions. People engaged in personal growth as a lifestyle make a habit of digging deeper into these issues, thereby increasing the likelihood of arriving at meaningful solutions.
The second largest enemy of productivity is, you guessed it, stress. Our increasingly hectic lives are often driven by the expectations of perfection and performance, and when stress enters the mix, our productivity drops. We spend so much of our time worrying and trying to multitask that our ability to focus and accomplish what we set out to do diminishes.
Self-development techniques improve your ability to focus and manage stress, help you get at hidden emotions and motivators, and allow productivity to sore.
Just imagine what life would be like if nothing stood in the way of your highest productivity. How much more would be possible for you?
Self-control, that ability to regulate your emotions, thoughts and behavior in order to accomplish specific goals, is a cognitive ability that can be worked out and strengthened just as you would your muscles.
When setting and working towards goals for your life, it’s easy to become derailed by temptations, habits and impulses, particularly those driven by subconscious beliefs and underlying emotions.
By making self-development a regular and important part of your life, you bring to light those underlying beliefs and feelings. You strengthen your self-control ‘muscles’, making it easier to build new habits and achieve short and long term goals.
By success, we’re talking about the ability to reach those markers of achievement that each individual sets for him or herself, rather than the standard markers of ‘success’ as presented by media (i.e. wealth, popularity, fame or power). Though, ironically, if that’s what you truly want, you’re more likely to achieve it if self-development is a regular part of your lifestyle.
When we look back over the advantages as listed above, it’s easier to see why this is true; healthy and supportive relationships, reduced stress and the associated improvements in health, increased productivity, and enhanced self-control all create the necessary environment for success to occur.
Aside from the peace of mind that generally follows as a result of such factors as lower stress levels, experiencing better overall health, and being successful, regular self-awareness and improvement practices can generate their own feelings of greater contentment and tranquility.
Mindfulness, meditation, and mind-body techniques such as yoga and qi-qong, when practiced regularly can improve focus and self-awareness, which in turn helps generate peace of mind.
Personal development practices also tend to increase your understanding of self and others, which contributes to a greater sense of peace and acceptance overall.
Because young children and babies learn by aping their parents and caregivers, it’s vital that parents first and foremost work on developing and improving themselves.
To be a better parent, one that can serve as a good first role model for babies and young children, you need to be willing to take a long, hard, honest look at yourself.
When you spend the time on personal development and self-awareness, you are less likely to unwittingly pass along negative patterns and behaviors to your children. You’re also far less likely to fall into common parenting pitfalls such as negative reinforcement, anger, bullying, enabling, micromanaging and the like.
According to the dictionary definition, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from life’s challenges, tragedies and difficulties. It’s the psychological ability to emerge from these experience and return to a healthy mental and emotional state. It’s essentially a form of emotional flexibility.
Personal development allows you to confront and work through obstacles from the inside and out. Time spent developing your emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and coping strategies will have a direct and positive impact on your level of resilience.
Life will always throw us curve balls in the form of obstacles and challenges when we least expect them. Having resilience means being able to rebound quickly, returning to your natural balance, growing and learning from the experiences instead of snapping or breaking.
In fact, developing greater resilience may well be the most important thing anyone can do to improve their overall life satisfaction.
And we finally arrive at the grand finale of advantages — happiness.
If happiness truly is the journey rather than the destination, then spending the time in your daily life to develop yourself will make that journey a heck of a lot more pleasant.
Imagine a life in which you enjoy good health and better relationships; a life in which you feel in control of yourself and your ability to cope well with whatever challenges come your way; a life in which you feel generally confident in your ability to succeed in your endeavors.
By taking the time to work on your personal development, you are decreasing the negative impacts of stress and ill-health, and you are increasing your ability to handle your life and relationships.
Through self-improvement efforts, you learn to identify, heal and transform underlying beliefs, traumas and self-sabotaging behaviors and habits.
All of which contributes to removing the layers of obstacles that smother our ability to experience real joy and happiness.
So next time you’re feeling crappy about your life or something in it, and feel tempted to spend money on makeup, clothes or that latest video game, perhaps you’ll think again and browse a while in the self-improvement section.
The former might change your mood for the moment, but the latter may well change your life for good.
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