The Ingredients For Self-Development
Now is the time to reveal to you the meaning of life. The time has come for my ultimate wisdom session. Let me ask you: what do you think is the meaning of life and how to get there. What could be easier to answer than that, right?
Let me say this: the meaning of life is the development of your emotional and mental capabilities. Our bodies, our biology developed through evolution and adaptation to the environment, and now the biological evolution crosses over into psychological evolution. Psychology is about our inner life, the emotional and mental content and skills of our consciousness. To develop consciousness means to develop your emotions and thoughts. Okay, that sounds all nice and vague, but what does that mean specifically?
Well, first, let’s break it down and see what it means to be a developed personality.
First, as a developing person you need to gather experience. Children gather experience because they don’t know anything about life. They need to go through a variety of experiences, both good and bad, positive and negative, pleasing and painful, to even know what life is about. If you take the experiences away and let them grow in a comfort bubble, you take away from them the golden opportunity how to deal with realities of life which includes frustration, crises, chaos, but also joy, pleasure, peace and order. You need all those things.
Next, the traces of your experience leave a mark on your consciousness, memory develops which in turn gives rise to the so-called conscience. It’s your inner voice based on your previous experience which tells you what you should and should not do. When you’re faced with similar experiences as those from the past, the traces of memory will bring it back into your mind and you’ll be making decisions based on that memory. Bad memories will make you hesitate and feel worried or repelled from a similar experience. Good memories will make you want the same experience again and again and again. That’s our nature in full development, when we are controlled by our desires to things and repulsions from things.
I guess you realize here that pleasant and unpleasant physical sensations give rise to emotions and feelings. Whatever is pleasing, the memory of it makes us want to grab it, and the feeling of desire arises. Whatever is painful or displeasing, the memory of it makes us want to move away from it, to avoid it. The feeling of sorrow, fear, worry, disgust arises.
It’s important to break away from this circle of desire and fear by cultivating noble feelings and mentality, your intellect.
Whatever you crave or fear, it owns you. You’re a slave to your fundamental feelings, and you need to control how you feel. At least to a certain degree. Otherwise you’ll be just an unpredictable mess. You need to have your inner life in order. Only then you can be a real force of positivity in the world.
So the key here is self-control through your thoughts, call it your mind, mentality or intellect, the source of your thoughts. Your thoughts can control how you’ll feel, at least to a certain degree. And they can definitely have an impact on your overall mood, regardless of your physical wellbeing. But that means you need to train your mind. When you wake up early in the morning, think nice thoughts for the day. Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that: they go through a daily routine in the morning to set their mind into the right state so that they can stay motivated and active. Don’t let others control what you think. Think your own thoughts. That’s what creativity and mental freedom means. Think your own thoughts.
Ok, next step is the development of our emotion. The ultimate goal of emotional development is compassion. And I use the word compassion as a metaphor for all the noble feelings you can imagine, so concepts such as love, joy, kindness, gratitude, generosity… all the feelings that come from a place of fullness, which are not based on your desires and fears. They are based on your refined nature in relation with your thoughts. Everything that we value in life at the end of the day includes both: the emotional aspect and the mental or intellectual aspect.
After you went through many experiences in life and your mind started to develop, you need to work on the refinement of your emotionality, so that you become a good person. Compassion is a skill you learn. You can be as intelligent as hell, but if you’re selfish and self-centred, that you’re just an unpleasant person to be around. And emotional refinement goes away from selfishness, and towards compassion and selflessness. Please remember that.
So as you can tell, at the end it’s about mixing two components, emotions and thoughts, and taking them to the next level and making the best out of it. The goal of emotional development is compassion and selflessness, and the goal of mentality development is a strong mind that can think for itself and therefore recognise truth through right thinking.
Okay. Now we have it all together. The generic ingredients for an integrated personality with a strong will power. A personality which is then self-determined and free in relative terms.
Now it’s time for one last sweet reflection. Here’s the thing: all life is transient, and so are our desires and wishes. Whatever we crave changes on a daily basis like the food we eat. And what we mainly desire is pleasure. We crave for the transient, short-lived sensations. But watch out. If you aren’t careful enough, your craving can own you, it can control your will.
And you don’t want to be a slave to desire. Desire should be your servant. The point is to learn and exercise self-control. Self-control is true freedom. You can’t be free if you don’t control your impulses. If you don’t show any physical, emotional and mental control, lack of restraint will own you and over time excess will make you feel drained and self-exploited. However, if you control your daily cravings and exercise moderation, all of the sudden the little daily pleasures become a great and joyful experience, because they are not stained by excess.
Bear in mind though that this is also not about pointless self-denial. It’s about the lofty ways of a wise life connoisseur.