Some people call it personal development, others call it dharma, others self help, etc. It has many names, but the reason people spend their time in these areas is to improve, right? We are looking to find inspiration. If not inspiration, maybe a way to better relate to the world; to be happy.
It doesn’t really matter what it is or who the teacher is, the messages, lessons, and wisdom are at least similar if not the same. Gratitude, love, service, patience, perspective, and the like.
Now then, what is its real value; its use? When is it applicable? When we are on the yoga mat and the beautiful music is playing and we are moving through the class it is so beautiful. When we are sitting with a loved one watching the sunset and the weather is perfect, it is so easy to call upon the lessons of our personal development and put them to work. Patience, practice, love, service, gratitude.
But what about the other 90+% of our time? What about the times in our days and lives when we are in the midst of our “have to” activities? Does our personal development apply, or help us then? What about those times when we find ourselves in circumstances that really trigger our emotions and create insecurity, fear, doubt, anger, rage jealously, etc? Is our personal development accessible to us then? There is a saying, “Any teaching that cannot help us in our worst times is of no value whatsoever”.
Here’s a question to ponder, if after we’ve read the books, listened to the audio, heard the lectures, etc and we still react to certain circumstances in our lives in the same way we always have (fear, anger, impatience, panic, doubt, etc) where do we look to correct that? The teaching? “When the cart does not move, which do you whip – the cart or the horse?”
Is it the teaching? Are they really that different? Or is it us? Is it our willingness to fully embody and implement the teaching that will determine its practical value? When we are late and in traffic and someone cuts you off or does something aggressive, when there is more month at the end of the money, when our kids frustrate us, when a client doesn’t follow the plan we’ve established for them, when a coach we’ve invested so much time in doesn’t do what they’re supposed to…where is our personal development then?
“True good must be done in the most minute particulars. General good is the plea of the hypocrite, the liar and the politician.”
It is in the particular moment of your frustration, fear, doubt, panic, that you must apply the teaching. And it must be useful to you! Understand that this is the measurement of the practical value of any teaching/personal development, “Is it useful in my most difficult times? Does it provide me with some tools, or resources which enable me to maintain my perspective, patience, and gratitude?” If not, your time was wasted. Don’t even talk about it. You would have better spent your time watching TV or playing video games or some other useless activity.
Implemented and applied personal development will give you the resources to make better decisions, better relate to people, and serve you as a basis from which to respond (not react) to the challenges of life.
Think about what triggers your emotional reactions; those times and things that spin you into an uptight, frustrated, irritable version of your lesser self. Then think about what teaching, or personal development provides you with the resources to soften those reactions; to preempt those triggers, and approach them with kindness, perspective, patience, love, and a will to serve.
Do you have that? If so, wonderful! Please share your journey with others so that we may learn. If not, you still have work to do…and we all have work to do. The work isn’t more or different sources for your teaching or personal development. The work is in the integration!