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The underestimated element to finding balance

The positivity content online these days tends to be pretty thorough when covering gratitude and goals. One element that seems to be lagging behind is the topic of how to achieve and maintain personal growth. While gratitude and goals are great, not reflecting on growth misses an opportunity to attain greater harmony.  The power of growth For example, picture yourself as a new caretaker of a beautiful potted bonsai tree. It's pruned neatly and is lustrous, healthy and vibrantly green with symmetrical twisted branches. Before you can feel confident about keeping it in this great condition, you have to learn the best techniques of care. But even if and when you become a master bonsai caretaker, it will never grow bigger than the space provided in the pot as they are intentionally root bound to stunt their growth. However, as the caretaker, if you wanted it to grow, you need to transplant it into a bigger pot.  In life, you are both the beautiful bonsai tree and the caretaker; in order to stay healthy, you must find ways to care for yourself. And if you want to defy being a bonsai tree and grow bigger, you must change your pot size or plant yourself in the open ground to expand to your full potential.  Growth is a necessary element in life. Without it, there’d be no beauty, no joy, no survival. Hence, it can be just as much a teacher as it is a propeller, but only if you stop to reflect, absorb, appreciate, and understand the lessons along the way.  Appreciating growth is like how some parents document the height of their kid on the wall for 18 years or posting a good report card on the fridge. As we get older, this practice of growth appreciation becomes a rarity, but it's worthy of a comeback. Think of your growth reflections as something that's wall or fridge worthy -- things you're proud about. They don't necessarily even have to be things you want to share with others, especially if you’re a modest person, these growth achievements can be special personal celebrations just for you.  How growth adds to balance  Celebrating your improvements can also lessen the demand for attaining approval from others. Even if you don't seek such approval, it's built into several everyday systems, including ourselves. Think about how it feels to get those social "likes," positive annual reviews at work, or just a nice compliment about how you look from a loved one. This is all part of acquiring approval from others. It's okay to get praise externally. Feeling accepted and liked/loved is a part of building interpersonal relationships, which help us build our sense of community. While it’s valuable to grow from a community and support system, I don’t believe it’s the full picture in achieving personal harmony. In fact, without also building in a sense of inner strength from personal growth reflections, it can lead to an unhealthy imbalance.  For example, as a young adult, I experienced a breaking point from seeking sole approval externally. I never really learned how important it was to value celebrating my own opinions or prioritizing my personal needs and wants before or in tandem with others. I believe this undervalued element of finding balance is more common than not. I learned the hard way that a personal evolution needs to include appreciation for both internal and external sources of growth.  While growth requires a balance of internal and external sources, remember, no one is going to do the work for you. When you reflect upon your own growth over a period of time, it also invites gratitude and goals to the balance, making it a perfect cycle of movement toward your next growth expanse.   For example, perhaps you reflect upon an argument or heated discussion you recently had where you changed your behavior from past experiences to be more understanding. This can instill feelings of gratitude for your behavior and for the person you were conversing with. This can then lead to a goal of continuing the behavior and aiming to be an even more attentive listener next time. The cycle can be similar to climbing a staircase to your next destination.  Growing beyond your bonsai pot In reflection of growth, if you find yourself stuck on identifying how you’ve improved and developed, perhaps it’s not because you haven’t, but rather because you’re depleted and need to prioritize your self-care first. Think back to the bonsai tree. For it to stay healthy, it needs water, sunlight, and the right mixture of soil. And when it's stable and healthy, a bonsai tree can resume its natural growth development upon being transplanted into the ground. It may be challenging sometimes to recognize when your growing. This could either be because life is moving so fast you don’t realize it or because you didn’t remember or even know it was important to stop, reflect, and appreciate your growth. Either way, this is when it is important to recharge your self-care. Once you have, you’ll have a better chance of witnessing your growth. And when you experience the breadth of your personal evolution, you can expect to grow.  Adding a growth reflection to your day Ultimately, when you're aiming to add balance to your life, beyond the gratitude, goals, and social connection, remember to reflect upon your own inner growth. To keep it simple, you can add the following practice to your daily routine.  Take two to five minutes at the end of your day to answer three quick questions (mentally, electronically, or scribble-ly):

  1. What’s one thing you're grateful for?

  2. What’s one goal you currently have and one step you will take this week to get closer?

  3. How did you grow or improve today and how will you continue to recharge yourself tomorrow to support growth?

Keep growing. Take care of yourself always and prioritize recharging your self-care often.  Kelly Stone Cramer For more uplifting messages, view all past recharge tips here. Feel free to connect with me via email at

This content is considered to be life advice and not for medical purposes. If you need medical attention, please consult your doctor. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, rather it's a sign of strength that you're advocating for your self-care. 


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