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What is Healthy Personal Growth?

More than 70 years ago, when the United Nations was founded, one of the organization’s branches, the World Health Organization, offered a definition of health that is still in regular use. WHO called it “... a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Nowadays, when professionals and non-professionals use the word, they imply many things.

It’s an interesting story, but how can we use the history of a word to figure out the key steps to personal growth? Many experts view growth as a multi-pronged process that takes place in our minds, bodies, emotional states. When all three parts develop at the same time, we achieve a balanced evolution of the self. If just one or two parts grow and leave others behind, there’s a chance we will be lopsided and encounter problems.

What are the steps to healthy personal growth based on this paradigm? Here’s a brief look at the three essential elements of individual evolution that so many people aim for:

Intellectual Growth

When we attend school or specialized job training, we’re contributing to our intellectual development. Some experts refer to this kind of brain growth as enhancing the secretarial function of the human mind. It has no relation to emotional or what is commonly called mental health. If you earn a PhD in mathematics or become a master carpenter, then you have fully trained your brain to help you make a living. Intellectual advancement is not necessarily about great ideas of lofty philosophical musing, but it’s about the brain simply getting better at collecting and processing useful knowledge.

Sound Mental Health

Western society is only now coming to grips with the importance of mental well-being. For centuries, the presence of mental illness was seen as a type of personal failure, even after science discovered that people have no control over this part of their makeup. In the modern world, we’re removing some stigma from the condition. In big cities like San Francisco, New York and other urban centers, it’s no longer taboo to openly shop around for a psychology professional. For example, anyone looking for a therapist in the Bay Area can find all sorts of social services that will assist them in their search.

Physical Well-Being

Perhaps the most obvious, understandable of the four parts of the puzzle, physical health simply refers to the overall state of the human body. Usually described in terms of disease or wellness, this aspect of the human condition takes place automatically. Individuals have the power to hinder it or speed it up based on lifestyle choices like smoking, working out, eating the right foods or drinking alcohol to excess.

Emotional Maturity

Emotional development often lags physical and intellectual advancement for a variety of reasons. We’ve all witnessed immature geniuses and wondered when they’ll ever grow up. In fact, this is not a new question. In ancient times, philosophers often alluded to weak yogis, people who had achieved a high degree of intellectual skill but were emotionally undeveloped. Nurturing one’s own emotional progress in life can come late, but it’s an essential component of a well-rounded personality.


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