Hi there everyone!!
What is Personal Development? There are so many words that we, or other marketers may use to describe what we think personal development is. For example, we may have heard of self-help, self-improvement, or peak-performance. We may have seen the concept targeted to a specific market, such as “professional” development. Or, if we’re on the cutting-edge, we may have heard of the new trillion dollar “wellness industry.”
Ultimately, personal development is about improving ourselves in any possible way, in any possible aspect of our lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s health, finances, time management, relationships, communication, or confidence building. For simplicity, we may just want to call various programs non-traditional “educational systems.” After all, they all attempt to educate us in varying non-linear methods.
There are lots of educational systems today that we may not realize the kind of impact they can have, or be aware of all the different methodologies of change that are available to us. Let’s distinguish some of the roots of personal development.
Our history has had numerous great philosophers, from Aristotle to Socrates. Such philosophers have had significant influence on our modern society. Recently, some people would argue that there’s no need for philosophers in our economy today. However, the basis of many personal development programs take the ancient wisdom of philosophers, build upon it, and teach us how to apply it in our daily living. We could even say that some professional speakers are our modern-day philosophers.
There are a multitude of different kinds of therapies out there, from Gestalt therapy to Cognitive therapy and even Non-directive therapy. With a similar mission to help better the lives of people, most therapies work at some level to achieve this goal. In fact, the early stage of Anthony Robbins’ work was to understand the fundamental principles of all therapies and encapsulate the common denominators that help people to change.
Psychology has been used to understand the way we behave, the way we interact with others, and the way we function in society. Dr. Robert Childini wrote a popular book called “Influence” which outlines some of these great discoveries. This book has been used by personal development icons to illustrate to us how our minds think and how we can use this knowledge to better our lives.
Science is the ability to create a hypothesis and find proof that creates a working theory. People have used science to discover ways our bodies and minds work in order to have them work a certain way. This has created abilities in individuals that we would never have thought possible. For example, Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a science that teaches us how to have the ability to condition our bodies. That is, to cause certain emotions and physical characteristics on a whim!
The study of metaphysics is the study of thought and energy, and how they influence each other in our existence. It is within this non-physical paradigm that we believe our thoughts really do create our reality. This is an area that has historically caused controversy. Now, with people like Dr. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra popularizing it, society is becoming much more enriched by its teachings.
Most religions try to give us a framework to live our lives effectively. Unfortunately, some religions have too much of a righteous connotation to attract every individual. As a result, we now have books like The Celestine Prophecy and Conversations With God that truly take a holistic spiritual approach in helping people lead powerful and productive lives.
We know what our culture is like from our environments and the modern day media. If we study history, we may also find how culture has been dramatically different over the course of our evolution. What’s interesting however, is discovering what elements of culture have remained the same over literally millions of generations. We first started to pass down moments of our history and ancestry through the art of story-telling. These stories would have a common theme, a meaning or moral which would soon transform into what we today call legends or mythology. While some of that may have transformed into modern day religion, the underlining principals of successful life living can be found today in different cultures around the world.
We can find examples of heroic, personal growth stories in many mediums. We can read about it in the story King Arthur or the plot of the Iliad and the Odyssey. We see it in Dante’s Divine Comedy, in Ramayana of the East, in Jack and the Beanstalk, and we see it the game Dungeons and Dragons.
Modern day media, though scrutinized by many, is no exception to demonstrating the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Messages of hope, faith, and inspiration can be found in music like “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby Mcferrin, and in books like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Star Trek is an example of popular culture that continually demonstrates the great characteristics of being human. And movies like “Pay It Forward” illustrate to the mass populous that, no matter how difficult, we still have dreams and aspirations to create a utopian society.
See more quotes from our culture with a tribute.
Putting It All Together
There may be more roots to the personal development industry. What’s certain is that each root has its own unique advantage and relatedness to different types of people. What will cause the explosion in the “wellness” industry is these categories coming together and mutually benefiting each other. In fact, this is already happening to a certain degree. Look at Scientology which combines science and spirituality. Look at Landmark Education Corporation, which uses some of the Eastern philosophies combined with the study of ontology (branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being). Look at Dr. Phil McGraw who puts together relationship psychology and personal development in context of a talk show. Look at the popular “Body for Life” program that combines fitness with various aspects of personal development. And, look at the network marketing industry which utilizes psychology, spirituality, and culture.
So what is Personal Development? It is the bringing together of many disciplines that will help us to grow personally, locally, and globally. Martin Luther King Jr. was a real catalyst in helping us to put aside our cultural differences. In his “I Have A Dream” speech, he said, “…where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.” Now I think there’s a new dream in the horizon. A dream where we’re not just “willing” to work with different people. In fact we are learning to work “effectively” with different people, as we learn to understand ourselves, other personalities and cultures, our relationships, and our place in the universe.
The wellness industry isn’t just another big economy. It’s an evolutionary process that will transform our society.
Let’s love the world together…
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary