Wednesday 6 August 2014

Growth is painful

Is happiness conducive to growth? I don't think so. It is a state that makes you feel so good - happy - that you don't want to change a thing. You want to stay right there, surrounded by the golden glow of all those warm feelings, and just be. 

Yet, a life cannot exist purely on happiness alone. For one, you won't always be happy: there is pain, misfortune, loss, and difficult times in every life. That is just the way it is, and I'm here to tell you today: It not only is necessary, but it can also be a very good thing.
Just think of all the heartbreak-inspired love songs that wouldn't exist without pain. Adele and Gwen Stefani became famous because of it!

When you think about it, growth is not easy. Babies cry when they are teething; during growth spurts, your limbs were actually hurting (remember that? Such a weird feeling); and let's not even get started on puberty. Everything connected with it - the changing of body shape, new voice for boys, hair in places where there was none before, bodily fluids you didn't have before - is awkward and difficult. But, in the end it is worth it.

Personal growth is just as difficult. Part of growing up and becoming not only an adult, but a person, is having to make decisions. Finding out who you want to be. Not only what sort of job you want, who to spend your life with, or whether to have children or not. You also have to decide: What kind of person do you want to be? What are the values that you will shape your life around?

Throughout my life there have always been times where I was just coasting. Where I got up in the morning, doing the things I had set in motion through earlier decisions, and followed the routine. Going to a job that was just a job, watching TV shows I got addicted to and justcouldn'tmiss, relieving the occasional boredom with buying new stuff.
Those times were not bad, but there was no growth happening. It was standstill, no movement in any direction - just treading water. I think those times are important to us, because they can be so restful. No turmoil, no changes, just quietly living and replenishing one's energy reserves.

However, I cannot and do not want to have that state as my permanent life. I want to live life to the fullest, experiment, make new experiences, go out of my comfort zone - and yes, get hurt sometimes.
Because, while growing pains are hard, the rewards are exhilarating!

For the longest time, I defined my purpose in life as the pursuit of happiness. I thought that, once I had found that state, I would try to always stay right there, at the point where I had found it.
But lately I am learning that happiness is a fluid state, and in order to stay happy, growth needs to happen. At least that's how it is for me.

Events in life that I used to be afraid of - losing friendships, having to find a new job, having to say goodbye to loved ones - are still hard. I'd still rather not have to go through these emotions of loss and uncertainty. But I am learning that they are also opportunities. Opportunities to revalue my life, to see if there are any changes that should be made. That's where personal values come into focus: What is it that I want to do with my life? Did that job, or that person that I lost, help me towards my goals in life? Or did they set me back?

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, and if I can't see it right away, I will soul search and question and look deep inside my heart. And in the end I always find the reason. So yes, while growth is painful and difficult at times, it is also absolutely essential for a life lived with intention.
I learn best by trial and error, by going for it and trying things out. If you approach life that way, it is inevitable to make mistakes. But mistakes are good! Without them, there is no learning, and without learning, there is no growing, and what kind of life would that be?

xo Miriam    

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  1. This is seriously such a beautiful post :) It really touched me because I've been having kind of a hard time realizing exactly what you said - happiness is a fluid state - it seems like when you find happiness, you just want to grab it and hold onto it and never let it go. Ever. But to have happiness, you're right - you have to endure the "growing pains". I'm only 21 and I know I have a lot of personal growth ahead of me - working through my last stretch of school, {hopefully} finding a husband, getting a job, possible family/kids/pets...there's a lot of change ahead of me. I'm terrified, but I know that in all of that change there will be triumphs and cheers as well. This post gave me the confidence to press onward, full speed ahead! Loved it!
    ~ Samantha

  2. Beautiful post!
    Psst...I just sent you a Very Inspiring Blogger Award-
    I need to catch up real soon on your

  3. Amazing. You are so inspiring. Theres nothing much else to say about this.

    Best wishes, Danielle x

  4. I agree growth and change can be very difficult. I also try to believe that everything happens for a reason. I remember thinking about some bad things that happened in my life but, if they hadn't happened then some good things wouldn't have happened either. Stay positive! Everything will work out for the best!

  5. I can't stand feeling stagnant. Sure I'm a creature of habit in some respects; I like to know that my day job hours are the same, I like getting up early, I like preparing dinner after work before I sit down to blog or edit photos or work on my other little projects. But I also like to be constantly working on something, to always be learning something new, whether it's something worldly or something about myself or even a new skill, I must always be learning. There are times when this exhausts me and I reach burn out, but it's all worth it in the end because it fills my life with purpose and makes me happy. Being stagnant, does not.

    It took me a while to realise this about myself, and for that time I felt so lost, like I was doing nothing with my life (post uni). But when I realised this it was like one of those epiphany/light bulb moments that I knew would change my course. Of course there are downsides, the burn out, the struggle to maintain balance but I believe that regularly challenging ourselves in some way is both extremely necessary and rewarding. I'm with you on this girl.


    1. One week later she replies... Sorry about the unfashionably late reply! I only had wi-fi at my parent's house, and left there on August 15. It's so strange nowadays, but parts of Germany are still spotty on free internet! My mother-in-law doesn't have a computer (she is 80 years old), and there are barely any internet cafes or free wi-fi in small towns! Anyway, I'm back where I belong, in front of my computer with the Corgi by my feet.

      We had dinner at a friend's house yesterday, and he said something that resonated with me and sort of fits in here: He said that he had read that in order to be happy you need someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I think that's so true: while routine is great (I need a fair amount of it to function properly), being stagnant for too long will make you unhappy.
      Finding that out for oneself is so freeing, just like you said!


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