Growth Versus Stagnation
Happy people find themselves in a state of growth. Unhappy people find themselves in a state of stagnation. Growth says “What I am today is not necessarily what I will be tomorrow.” Stagnation says “What I am now is all I will ever be.” Growth is imbued with hope, with ever-expanding possibilities, while stagnation is imbued with hopelessness, with ever-shrinking possibilities.
Growth is active whereas stagnation is passive. Those who are stagnating have given up on what they can be and on what life can be. They’re likely to project these feelings onto the people around them, to see and treat others as if they have set and unalterable traits and abilities.
The key for those who are growing is to not let themselves become infected by the stagnation projection, to not let themselves become one dimensional in their thinking, to refuse to stop believing that with time and effort they can become something more than what they currently are.
In the first few decades of life growth is easy, natural, effortless, because it’s mostly a function of biological development, something that occurs without much conscious intention. The challenge in adulthood is to transfer the concept of growth from its biological form into its symbolic, purely human form. This means seeing growth as a function of self-actualization, as the road of discovering and then actively developing unique potentialities. This sort of growth can’t occur by itself, it can only occur through conscious intention, through the active decision to strive forward and unfold those various potentialities.
Those in a state of stagnation can’t or won’t understand the above paragraph because they no longer recognize any potentialities in themselves to develop, if they ever did. They believe they’ve reached the end of the road and therefore for all intents and purposes they have since like we said growth in adulthood doesn’t just happen on its own, it only happens when people make it happen. A huge part of making it happen is the hopeful expectation that although things haven’t changed yet with effort and patience they can and will.