By Bob Mueller
The proper nourishment for personal growth is a loving acceptance and encouragement by others, not rejection and impatient suggestions for improvement. Human beings, like plants, grow in the soil of acceptance, not in the atmosphere of rejection.
If you will accept me wherever I am, all my energies and desires to grow will be released and energized. If you will reassure me that it is all right to be where I am now, I will have courage to move beyond where I am. With your loving acceptance of me, I will gradually grow into the fullness of life.
I keep thinking about all the great men and women in our human history. Imagine Joan of Arc whimpering, “But I can’t ride a horse, let alone lead an army!” What if Christopher Columbus had said, “I can’t be right and all those people wrong. What if I fail and get lost on the high seas? What will other people say about me then?” Suppose Thomas Jefferson had caved into his fears: “Write a Declaration of Independence for a new country? You’re kidding. I’ve never written a Declaration before.”
Now you might react by saying: “Yes, but they were great and famous people. I’m neither great nor famous.” To which I am inclined to reply, “Right. But neither were they before they stretched.”
The whole process of maturation depends on how we react to the difficulties or challenges of life. The immature person sees only the difficulties: they are so close to their near-sighted eyes that they can see only the problems and pay very little attention to their own reactions which is, in fact, the critical and definitive thing. Difficulties pass, but our reaction to them does not. Each reaction, mature or immature, lingers on in us as the beginning of a habit. Repeated mature reactions tend to produce the formed habits of maturity which define us. Repeated immature reactions dig their own grooves.
Fully alive people are those using all of their human faculties, powers, and talents. These individuals are fully functioning in their external and internal senses. They see a beautiful world. They hear its music and poetry. They smell the fragrance of each new day and taste the deliciousness of every moment. Of course, their senses are also insulted by ugliness and offended by odors.
To be fully alive means to be open to the whole human experience. It is a struggle to climb a mountain, but the view from the top is magnificent. Fully alive individuals have activated imaginations and cultivated senses of humor. They are alive, too, in their emotions. They are able to experience the full gamut and galaxy of human feelings – wonder, awe, tenderness, compassion, both agony and ecstasy.
Bob Mueller is Vice President of Development at Hosparus