This week's article is a bit of a rarity for SamSpurlin.com as it is not written by me. Tammy Strobel is an Internet-friend of mine from the very beginning of my blogging days (who I also had the pleasure of meeting "in real life" a few months ago). She was the first person I ever interviewed for my old website, The Simpler Life, and I've been following her work online ever since that time. Tammy has a new book coming out called "You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap)."
In a recent email exchange Sam asked me, “What does personal development mean to you?”
Ever since Sam asked me that question, I’ve been thinking about my response. While I was biking around Portland a few days ago, I came up with my answer. For me, personal development is about personal growth. If I’m not growing as a person, then it’s impossible for me to improve my skills or cultivate new ones.
I grow through reading, writing, and photography. Reading exposes me to new ideas and perspectives. Writing helps me clarify my own beliefs, and photography helps me slow down and be mindful enough to notice the details in my everyday life.
All three of these activities bring an incredible sense of meaning and happiness to my life. They also remind me of a concept called, “see, be, do.” I learned about “see, be, do,” in Twelve by Twelve by William Powers. He argues that if you are trying to grow yourself, first you have to see the problem, learn to be, and finally do something about it.
For example, I’m working on slowing down. Before I could slow down, I had to seethat I was in a hurry all the time. Second, I needed to be present in each moment which was difficult for me. As Powers says, ". . . being was indeed the most difficult part in an era where clutter — in both stuff and activity — eclipses the sweetness of solitude, the aliveness of the present moment."
Finally, I had to do something and curtail my self-imposed busyness. I started to say no more often to meetings, meet-ups and other commitments. By saying no to requests, I had more time to grow myself through reading, writing and photography.
What about you? How do you define personal development? Share your definition in the comments section.
P.S. I recorded a small audio blog about this topic too. You can listen in here.
Tammy Strobel is a writer, photographer, and tiny house enthusiast. She created her blog, RowdyKittens.com, to share her story of embracing simplicity. Since then, her story has been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, and in a variety of other media outlets. Tammy's new book is called, “You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap).”