An atmosphere of growth

I’ve become a bit of a Gretchen Rubin fanatic over the past few months after picking up The Happiness Project, her bestselling book on how to build a happier life within the framework of the life you’re living right now. I was instantly hooked, thanks to Rubin’s simple, clear writing and her engaging personal journey.

She starts with a simple concept: To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth. When I read the last item on the list—an atmosphere of growth—I sat up a little straighter in my chair. It’s so obvious—it’s kind of the whole point of this blog, after all—and yet most of us spend almost no time consciously trying to foster it in our own lives.

We don’t wake up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays to train for distance runs and open-water swims because we enjoy hearing our alarms go off before the sun rises. I didn’t sign up for ski patrol training or run my first marathon because I figured the process would be an ego-boosting hedonism fest. We do these things because they create an atmosphere of growth, which is truly a necessary ingredient in a joyful, meaningful life.

As Rubin says here: “To feel happy, it’s not enough to have fun with your friends, and not feel guilty about yelling all the time, and feel like you’re working in the right job; you also need to feel growth—a sense of learning, of betterment, of advancement, of contributing to the growth of others.”
I had that concept in mind when I made the decision this fall to embark on my latest adventure: yoga-teacher training. My favorite teacher is offering the 200-hour training, and it’s full of other yoga “classmates” of mine. It’s offered locally, with a schedule that’s easy for me to accommodate. In other words, if I’m going to do a teacher training, this is the one I’m going to do.
Still, I waffled on making the decision. Do I really want to be a yoga teacher (maybe, but not in a burning-desire kind of way)? Is this a worthy use of my time and money? Can’t I grow enough in yoga by continuing to work on my handstand, or by going a little deeper in meditation? Am I really up for taking on 200 hours worth of intense training, along with the reading and other pre-work that comes with it?
Those are all worthy questions, but in the end, I chose to be OK with not having solid answers to any of them. I’m not sure where this journey will take me, but I know what I’ll create along the way: an atmosphere of growth, which is sure to boost my overall level of joy.
How have you created an atmosphere of growth for yourself? Has it boosted your happiness?


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2 responses to “An atmosphere of growth

  1. Atmosphere of growth.. Good term. But hard to maintain. Still, for me, that is the journey, creating condition s in each day and even in the moments of the day that make us grow. I am sure it is just my view but if we don’t do that: what’s the point? How can anyone be content or happy with the goal of remaining the same? And I am not sure you can maintain “happy” but I believe you can maintain “contentment.” And, this pursuit, this know that your have a goal, a purpose; to grow, to become all you were designed to be and to be on a journey toward that. For me, creating a perpetual atmosphere of growth brings contentment along the miles of the journey.

  2. runninarounduptown

    That sounds like a great journey! I love the concept of an atmosphere of growth, it’s an interesting way to frame new adventures and ideas. I really enjoyed Gretchen’s “Better than Before” book and I’ve been meaning to pick up the “Happiness Project”. She’s very clear and I found it hard to put her book down, so I’m sure I’ll like this one too.
    Good luck with yoga teacher training, I look forward to hearing about the process

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