Last week-end, I have run 10 kilometers at the caritative run Odysséa in the Vincennes castle. It was a great achievement for me, as, after years of thinking "sports isn't for me", I started training in August 2012 with this objective in mind. This achievement made me think of how important growth is in our life equilibrium, and contentment.
First, let me introduce this idea with a simple parallel to the world of video games. In a certain genre called "Role Playing Game", players start with a level 1 beginner hero and "level up" through the game. As the hero solves enigmas, battles enemies and discovers new territories, he earns experience, improving various skills to become expert in his field and more efficient so we can finish the game.
And I believe it is the same in life: as we learn things, improve our skills, we grow, we "level up". It is easy to see in children. They go to school, learn to write and read, they play sports, learn new instruments, or dance, learn theater or whatever suits them.
But once we enter the adult age, many of us stop "growing". Ever since I finished school, I felt like me everyday life didn't really allow me to grow anymore. I stopped practising the arts I used to as a child (music, drawing, writing), I didn't get any new friends as I was busy with work, I didn't really take the time to learn new things after I finished school, and at some point I even stopped reading, trapped in the working routine.
And here is my theory: what if we needed to keep growing as a human being in order to be content and find meaning in life? When I managed to run these 10 kilometers yesterday, I felt a high sense of achievement and self satisfaction, which made me feel happy about myself and my life.
The four fields of growth
- Physical growth: that's all the items around our body - sports, food, taking care of our body shape, looks, health
- Mental/spiritual growth: that's all we learn, the knowledge and culture we discover about, knowing more about general culture, discovering the world, but also understand life and oneself better
- Social growth: that's all the human relationship stuff - getting new friends, building a couple, maintaining family links, reconnecting with old friends...
- Creative growth: that's all related to learning new skills, learning to make new things - it can be an artisanal craft, an art (drawing, writing, practising music...), anything that makes us more skilled at a particular thing
If you take a look at these items, except for the people who are lucky to work in a creative or craftsman job, the regular get up-go to work-eat-sleep doesn't really allow for that unless we actively pursue them. I had lost touch with friends and my own sister in three years of work for example.
Keep leveling up!
But I think society doesn't really encourage us to grow, unless this involves an activity to pay for. Remember my post about airports being giant shopping malls instead of promoting culture? So here is my theory: I think we need to wake up from the daily routine, and find some ways to keep growing as adults.
Take a look at your life, what are you devoting your time to? Are some of these activities making you feel like you are growing? Out of the four elements above, we usually have some favourites - I know I've always been more on the mental and creative sides of things for example. Here are some everyday things that make me grow today, as an idea:
- I play the violin regularly
- I take the time to call my family and friends in the week-end (especially the ones who don't live in Paris)
- I have started writing again, opened a site with all my writings and update my blog regularly
- I go to the gym several times a week and set myself some sport challenges
- I watch a lot of TED talks about various subjects and listen to science podcasts at the gym
- I read books, watch films, play video games, go to museums and exhibits regularly
- I like to travel and discover new cultures
If you feel some sort of insatisfaction in your life right now, might it be linked to the lack of "leveling up" activities? It is just a theory, but it actually works wonders with me. What do you think? What type of activities make you grow in your everyday life? What it is you wish you had more time to do?