I want to grow. I want to be better. You Grow. We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.

~Tupac Shakur

Nobody’s perfect.

Each of us has things we’d like to change about ourselves. We might want to eat less or exercise more. We might want to be more assertive. We might want to read more or become experts in something. We might want to be more adventurous.

How many of our desired changes would fundamentally alter who we are? Are we evolving as people?

Evolution has a lot more nuance than change. Evolution means we are building on what came before. It means that exposure to some events, ideas, or changes in circumstance has resulted in our moving forward in a different way.

Many things can lead to our personal evolution. Examples include an epiphany we’ve had about how to make our lives better, a recognition of some truth that had previously evaded us, a wake-up call we’ve had about our health or our state of mind, or an experience we’ve had that alters our worldview.

But as with all aspects of our lives, we should be aware of and intentional about our personal evolution. We should know what we are building on and the experiences we’ve had that have led to our becoming the people we are.

So what does “personal evolution” mean? Will I know it if I experience it?

To me, personal evolution is a shift in a fundamental part of who I am. It doesn’t need to be sudden, but it must be significant and appreciable.

An example of a way we might evolve is in our worldview. We are brought up hearing the perspectives of our parents, our teachers, and other authority figures about our place in our communities, our country, and the world. As we move through life, those perspectives may shift and grow based on what we see, what we read, and our own experiences. Our worldviews could evolve into something very different from what is was growing up.

As we evolve, we might also gain new perspectives on our physical selves. When we’re young, we’re physically resilient and flexible, and we heal quickly. As we get older, we lose some of these qualities and have to find ways to compensate. We need to evolve into fit, graceful, highly mobile versions of our former selves. When I was younger, I was always fit, but I didn’t think too much about being graceful or having an awareness of my body and what it was telling me. Now (at age 54), I’m more fit than I ever was, and I’m extremely conscious of my flexibility, mobility, and physical coordination. I love to play sports and have had injuries related to baseball and martial arts. But I’m very intentional about the way I recover so that I don’t lose ground on my physical goals. This has been a very positive evolution for me.

Like other aspects of our lives, evolution will be more beneficial to us if we are intentional about it. We should carefully consider all aspects of our lives and where they may be headed so that we can ensure our evolution goes the way we want it to. Sometimes changes in our lives happen for the wrong reasons. We might not have given some parts of our lives enough attention, so they may be evolving in unhealthy directions. For example, if we only pay attention to voices that we totally agree with, our worldviews will become more narrow and less open-minded. In our personal evolution, we have to ensure that we’re taking the steps necessary to become the people we aspire to be.

Evolution can be scary, but it’s part of being honest with ourselves. We have to be the people who our knowledge, experiences, and opinions have created. We have to be the best versions of ourselves given the lives we have led.

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