This Is How We Grow Blog Hop 2013:
10 Ways I Choose to Grow Each Day
My family and I have been through our share of rough times. In 2007, my sister and brother-in-law died, we inherited our two young nephews, and I gave birth to our 4th baby, taking us from three to six kids in a matter of weeks. We navigated grief, postpartum depression, parenting challenges, questions of self-worth, and challenging family relationships as we struggled to create and heal our new family. Through these major life experiences, we were given the opportunity to choose to grow, and we did. I write about these experiences in my new memoir, This is How We Grow.
Choose to Grow Every Day
But today, I don’t want to write about those experiences. After all, I already wrote a whole book about them! Today, I would like to write about the day-to-day “choose to grow” moments. As I write in This is How We Grow, “It isn’t the big things that make life hard…the deaths and traumas and losses. I used to think it was, but it isn’t. It’s the carrying on, day-to-day, after the big things—or, in-between them.” (p.119)
Yes, life is hard—from death to financial struggles, from mental or physical illness to relationship loss—but even in the absence of major life crises, life can be hard. Motherhood is hard, and parenting is hard, and relationships are hard, and work is hard. It’s hard to choose to grow, even in the times when things feel “easier,” even in times when life is “normal.” We don’t have to be going through major life struggles or changes to be faced with the choice to grow. In fact, personal growth, at its core, is a daily choice. We wake up each day with the opportunity to start fresh. Will we seize that opportunity or let it slip away?
10 Ways I “Choose to Grow” Each Day
So, how do we choose to grow each and every day? Following are 10 ways I have learned to choose to grow each day. I hope they will inspire you to choose to grow, too, no matter what life may (or may not) bring!
1) Focus on Gratitude. Research shows that practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to improve overall happiness. Gratitude helps us see the good all around us, and that helps us grow, even when life gets tough. One way I practice gratitude is on my morning walk or jog. I ponder all the things for which I am grateful, then I say a long prayer of gratitude, actively searching for more. It starts my day off right and always lifts my mood. For more on gratitude, read 10 Benefits of Practicing Gratitude and 10 Ways to Practice Gratitude Today!
2) Practice patience. Patience is key to personal growth. We get frustrated with ourselves because we haven’t grown enough, or quickly enough, because we make mistakes, or because growing feels so hard. But when we practice patience, we can see it’s all okay. We see that growth takes time. Lots of it. In fact, I like to remind myself that most people spiral up and down the spiral of change six times, on average, before they finally make lasting change. (For more on this, read “Make Lasting Change”) You can remind yourself of this, too, and practice patience. For more ideas on how, read Practicing Patience: 20 Ways to Be More Patient Today.
3) “Be a little bit better each and every day.” This is one of my mottos, one I made up to remind myself I can choose to grow by doing just a little bit better each day. A little is good enough. I ask myself, “Can I be just 5% better at smiling or showing love or holding my temper?” It’s not much to ask. It’s just a little bit better, but think how much that little bit can add up over time! I encourage you to try doing the same.
4) Forgive myself and others. Forgiveness is crucial in choosing to grow. When we fail to forgive, we hold ourselves back; in fact, growth is not possible without forgiveness. First, we must forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made, for our weaknesses. Then, we must forgive others. Let go of the little things. They weigh us down so heavily. Without them, we are free to stretch and meet the sky. For the big things, try to let go of just a little piece each day. Work out big issues through discussion, support, and prayer, then let them go, bit-by-bit. And remember, forgiveness is really about healing yourself. It is so worth it to forgive.
5) Take care of my physical body. Physical health is crucial to “choosing to grow.” Sleep, nutrition, and exercise, especially, allow me to feel mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually capable of growth. When my physical body is beat, I fall backward in my growth. Keeping ourselves strong is crucial in choosing to grow. (Read 40 Physical & Mental Health Benefits of Exercise)
6) Don’t forget growth is not a solitary process. We may be talking about personal growth, but that doesn’t mean we do it alone. In fact, the best growing expriences come from our daily interactions with others—our family, co-workers, kids, friends, spouse. Seeing these relationships as opportunities to grow is key. When we remember to focus on our relationships, we grow not just individually, but our relationships are strengthened, too. More on strengthing relationships: “The 5 Love Languages;” 50 Ways to Love Your Loved Ones; Weather the Storms Together; 17 Secrets for Making Marriage Work; In Praise of Fathers; The ABC’s of Making & Keeping Friends.
7) Hold my tongue. Not everything felt needs to be said. When I want to say or do things that lead me a step back in my growth, I try to think twice and hold my tongue. Instead, we can focus on listening and learning. We can remind ourselves that our circumstances are handed to us for a reason–even the really tough ones. They are all opportunities to choose to grow. When we hold our tongue–cease complaining or criticizing–we are free to look for and learn the lessons around us. That is choosing to grow.
8) Let love in and ask for it when I need it. I’ve gotten so much better at this. I don’t always get what I ask for, but when I just say, “I feel like I need love,” I’m always surpised by how often it shows up. Then, I focus on opening up my heart and letting that love fill me up. And when I do, I have so much more love to share. Love is the foundation of growth, after all. We cannot choose to grow without it. Read “The 5 Love Languages;” “The Reconsideration Exercise;” Learning Self-Love; How to Get Your Needs Met.
9) Self-reflection time. One of the biggest things that holds most of us back from growing is lack of self-reflection. How can we see where we need growth if we don’t take the time to really look? It’s not always easy to see the areas that need improvement or to want to check in on our progress, but self-reflection and self-monitoring are crucial in choosing to grow. Set aside time each day to breathe, listen, and take stock of where you are. Be willing to see what’s going well and not so well. Learn to see your weaknesses as areas for future growth and to embrace your strengths and utilize them to help you grow. Read How to Embrace Strengths & Weaknesses; The Value of Authenticity; The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection; Daily Mindfulness: 6 Ways to Put More Being into what you’re Doing.
10) Most importantly, when I mess up, don’t be hard on myself. We all make mistakes. It’s just part of the growing process. What counts, however, getting up and dusting ourselves off, then jumping back into the arena. We must give ourselves a break. Let ourselves learn and remember that’s what growing is all about. Choosing to grow is a day-by-day and often moment-by-moment choice. Never give up. Choose to grow, my friends. Every time.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Author, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Be sure to check out her new book, This Is How We Grow![/author_info] [/author]
An Invitation to YOU!
Join my This Is How We Grow Blog Hop!
Theme: “I choose to grow.”
1) Read this post for details and instructions.
2) Write your post, or use a post you’ve already written, adding, “This is How We Grow” Blog Hop 2103 at the top! (We are sorry, but we will not keep links to general sites or unrelated posts.)
3) Link your post back to the hop! Be sure to grab the “I Choose to Grow” badge code (in my right sidebar) and add it to your post and/or sidebar. This is how we create the hop–by linking your site back to mine and vice versa, so please do not skip this important step! (If the badge code will not work, you may also copy one of the images on this post and link it to this page.)
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