Last week, we talked all about the need to strike the right balance between thought and action in my extremely popular article on overthinking and what to do about it.
This week’s article really builds on that same concept of balance – but this time applied to the concept of self development itself.
You see, there is, I believe, an apparent tension within the self development phenomenon itself, a tension between the concept of “being” on the one hand and the concept of “becoming” on the other.
First off, it is a tension that builds on the thought-action dichotomy we discussed last week; action as a present and active mode of “being” and thought as a highly abstract, time displaced mode of “becoming”.
And in philosophical terms, it is the opposition between an Eastern tradition that places the focus on an acceptance of oneself and contentment with the present – think of someone like Buddha, for instance – and, at the other end of the scale, a philosopher like Nietzsche, where life is a matter of continuous striving, overcoming, self actualization.
Clearly, I am outlining the extremes for you here, but applied to self development it boils down simply to this: How do I accept myself, and become all I can be, all at the same time? Here, then, are my thoughts on how we can strike the right balance in our lives, and do self development the smart way!
Behind the self development paradox
The key to this particular puzzle is to realize that being and becoming were never in opposition at all; on the contrary, these are attitudes that mutually reinforce and complement one another if only we can find a way to strike the proper balance.
Finding that balance is the key to being smart in your approach to self development, and I’d like to show you exactly what I mean by explaining how I believe it works in a healthy individual.
First of all, a healthy individual is satisfied with their being: that is to say, they are content with their situation; they have an appreciation for the things in their life; they dwell in the present.
Alongside that, however, they have a clear picture of their becoming: the things they want to achieve; the improvements they want to make; the future they envisage for themselves and others.
Now, the balance established, the interplay between being and becoming can really come into effect. The person begins to notice two things:
- They are satisfied with their being because they have a becoming. In other words, their day-to-day existence is enhanced by the feeling of direction, of purpose, of all the benefits that a clear image of becoming brings to a person’s life.
- They are satisfied with their becoming because they have a being. In other words, they can enjoy the journey to wherever they want to go – and last the course – because they already appreciate where they are, what they have, all those pleasures of the moment.
Self development has traditionally been viewed as a desperate sort of becoming – and gained itself a bad rep in the process – this, in my view, is the smart response to what it’s really about. Find that balance, and let’s do self development a better, smarter way!
Cambridge graduate. Writer and thinker. Life enthusiast.