Personal Development for Smart People

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind, Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. —Henry Miller

Understanding where you are now

Look around you and list what you like and dislike about your life. The first step to personal growth is to recognize your life right now is not how you want it to be, and admit “I am addicted” to bad habits. When you feel powerless, say to yourself “This situation is wrong for me, yet I lack the strength to change it right now.”

Embracing falsehood may provide a temporary gain but is certainly a foolish long term decision: instead of abiding friendship and human intimacy, you settle for a sea of casual contacts, none of whom know, accept, and love the real you, instead of pursuing your true purpose you pursue money, recognition or comfort. The sooner you recognize that total responsibility is inescapable, the better off you’ll be. Accept your current starting point without judging yourself harshly.

Loving yourself unconditionally is the result of a conscious choice that you can make every moment: no matter what hidden qualities you discover you’re still worthy of love. Get to know yourself. Accept the body you‘ve been given, despite its flaws. For better or worse, this is the vehicle you‘ll be using for the rest of your physical life.

If you think anyone else has authority over you, it’s only because you yield your authority by choice.

Rating your current situation

Confidence begins with a resolute commitment to truth. When you feel lazy and unmotivated, you have been disconnected. You must remember who you are and reconnect.

Rate these eleven aspects of your life from 1 to 10:

  • Career & work (6)
  • Character & integrity (9)
  • Emotions (4)
  • Habits & daily routine (6)
  • Health & fitness (7)
  • Home & family (8)
  • Life purpose & contribution (5)
  • Mental development & education (9)
  • Money & finances (9)
  • Social life & relationships (6)
  • Spiritual development (5)

When you rate an aspect of life 710, you are pretending it is good enough although it is not what you want. Replace all aspects that are not 9 or 10 with 1 to see the truth. With my results from August 2012 (above), only three aspects out of eleven are good enough.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing —Helen Keller

Making honest predictions

A man of knowledge chooses a path with heart and follows it; and then he looks and rejoices and laughs; and then he sees and knows. He knows that his life will be over altogether too soon; he knows that he, as well as everybody else, is not going anywhere; he knows, because he sees, that nothing is more important than anything else.

In other words, a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no country, but only life to be lived, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled folly.

—Carlos Casteneda, A Separate Reality

If you cannot honestly predict a positive long-term impact from your actions, admit you are wasting your time, and set some goals that really matter to you. Ask yourself “If this the most important thing for me to be doing right now?”

Divide your tasks, projects and activities into three groups and focus on the third:

  1. No impact
  2. Succeed anyway
  3. Succeed only with timely completion

Average people die of diseases influenced by lifestyle choices, average is slow suicide. To become healthy today, exercise self-discipline to overcome the drag of social conditioning. You can predict your future by looking at the people with whom you spend the most time.

Controlling the present with positive actions

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. —Calvin Coolidge

You can’t control the passage of time, but you can control your present focus.

When you make decisions from a certain state of mind and act upon them, you reinforce that same state, thereby increasing the likelihood you’ll respond similarly in the future. The most difficult part of any new habit is making it through the first month. Stair-stepping can achieve a habit in time without difficult large changes (set alarm five minutes earlier per day).

Good habits, which bring our lower passions and appetites under automatic control, leave our natures free to explore the larger experiences of life. —Ralph Sockman

Adopt a disciplined routine for the first waking hour to enjoy a highly productive day, then complete the remaining daily tasks starting with the hardest first.

The most intelligent thing you can possible do with your life is to grow. Read a book on a topic you know virtually nothing about. Try polyphasic sleep to change your understanding of time (if social constraints allow).

Small rebellions provide authority: “I appreciate your concern, but I’d prefer not to explain my actions right now.”

Overcoming fears

Self-assurance frees you, whereas self-doubt enslaves you.

Embrace completely new experiences and use deliberate predictions to make better decisions. Be wary of overly-pessimistic predictions from snap judgments, over-generalizations. These prophecies can become self-fulling. Just because all your previous boyfriends were difficult does not mean that there isn’t a wonderful life partner around the corner.

Overcome fears to build courage. Start with the smallest. Select a fear you’d like to overcome and select a small step to confront that fear, a mild challenge that would trigger some trepidation. Commit to giving a speech, try rock-climbing, sign up for swimming lessons. Seek out role models who’ve already achieved what you desire, and request advice or mentoring.

People avoid rejection by sniffing negatives response in advance. This is weak, dishonest and manipulative, people who go out of their way to avoid rejection only weaken themselves in the long run. If you get rejected, just accept the outcome instead of resisting it and getting embarrassed. A rejected date could become a new matchmaking ally for you. A rejection is a sign of incompatibility, so it can’t be considered a bad outcome. Trying to win approval or downplaying accomplishments results in making friendships rooted in falsehood that require disconnection to maintain.

Developing your purpose in life

In careers, your message is who you are while your medium is simply how you choose to express yourself. Go where your talents are appreciated, otherwise you‘re simply abusing yourself.

An authentic career is found in the place where all these questions have the same answer:

  1. What must I do?
  2. What can I do?
  3. What do I want to do?
  4. What should I do?

To build an outstanding career, you have to develop failure tolerance and be brave enough to take calculated risks and accept the inevitable setbacks that occur without going into a tailspin of depression. Avoid the moocher mind-set, where you perform personal tasks while on the clock. Immerse yourself in your day’s work instead of procrastinating.

Finding your core message

Your core message connects with you on a very deep level. To discover this message:

  1. Take out a sheet of paper and title it “What is my true purpose in life?“
  2. Write down an answer that pops into your head
  3. Repeat (2) until you write the answer that makes you cry (15–20 minutes)

Generating income

Your income depends on the social value of your work, not the personal value. It is limited by how much social value you can create. Your not on the right path unless someone would cry if I went out of business. Developing socially valuable skills is hard work, but those who put in the time are rewarded handsomely for their efforts, not only financially but also by the intrinsic rewards of creative self-expression.

Aim directly for the goals that are a result of money, not money itself. To earn more money, develop your skills and talents to facilitate the creation of lots of social value. The only true security is intelligence.

Constructive relationships

The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship —Sir Francis Bacon

In your relationship, identify the primary area of compatibility:

  • Sharing information
  • Expressing affection
  • Supporting each others‘ dreams

Maintain/restore closeness in the relationship by enjoying this area together when you start feeling distant.

Making and developing friendships

When meeting someone new, a good opening line is “Hi, I’m Steve.” Imagine they are already inherently connected to you and begin the conversation “You look like someone I haven’t met yet. What’s your name?” The worst outcome is parting ways, however the best outcome is making a lifelong friend. You can try to connect with people, or you can pull away from them. Embrace love. You can approach any person, place, or thing with the intention to connect, or you can remain aloof and keep your distance. The decision to connect is the essence of love.

With someone you know already, you can take your relationship to the next level admitting “You know… you’re a really good friend” and consider what you would miss if this person was gone from your life forever. All relationships are temporary and will end in separation or loss. Let this give you a further appreciation of people in your life. Send a handwritten card or letter.

Closer relationships

When something feels wrong, or a relationship is declining but looks solid on the surface, there are often overlooked problems to discuss. Work through these issues together to break down the invisible walls and reach a new level of closeness and intimacy.

Physical contact — snuggling, cradling, enjoying silence — is a pleasurable way to enjoy oneness, imagine your consciousness expanding to encompass the other person’s body and think “I am you”. Committed relationships require placing a high value on your partner’s overall well-being, including honoring the need to connect with other people, sometimes casually and other times more intimately.

Summary from the author

Seek truth with open eyes. Courageously accept your discoveries and their consequences. Rid your life of falsehood, denial, and fear of what is. Make truth your ally, not your enemy. This isn’t easy, but it is correct.

Share your love openly. Connect with yourself and others by tuning in to the connection that already exists. The risk of rejection is overshadowed by the rewards of loving connections. Whenever you feel disconnected, reach out and connect with another human being. Remember that you‘re always loved.

Fully develop your human abilities, and use your power in honorable service for the highest good of all. False power corrupts, but true power elevates. The more you resonate with truth and love, the greater your ability to wield power wisely. No one is served by your refusal to shine.

Embrace your unique path of growth. Use your intellect and emotions to guide you in the conscious pursuit of truth, love, and power. Invest in creative self-expression, service and contribution, and you will suffer no scarcity. Your greatest gift to the world is to share who you really are.

See also