Tantrum closer
Creative Commons License photo credit: hypertypos
There is a massive amount of very helpful personal development information available on the Internet today. Every conceivable subject seems well covered. There are fantastic tips for how to have better quality sleep, how to simplify your life, enjoy better relationships, lose weight, be happy and become successful. However, there does appear to be a lack of information to help you truthfully check your own developmental progress.

I’ve mentioned previously that extensive psychological research suggests that the majority of us are who we were developmentally at age 12. This revelation came as some surprise to me when I read it but after just a few moments of contemplation I could see that it is true. Take a step back for a moment and consider the behavior of yourself and those around you. Under the clear light of truth much of our behavior can only be described as infantile. Beyond behavioral infantilism there are many of us who have failed to take responsibility for themselves, their physical health and their lives.

The mission statement of Balanced Existence is to act as a signpost along your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual journey to wellbeing. My website is filling up nicely with lots of what I hope is very helpful and interesting information. Perhaps even guidance for those who both want and need it. However, most of what I’ve written so far is like a signpost pointing the way. I felt it was time for a signpost that says “Welcome to Developmentville, Population: You”.

When we start out on the journey of personal development we leave the City of Twelve-Year-Olds and head off into the great unknown. So how can we tell exactly where we are now along the path of personal development in relation to Twelve-Year-Old City? For the answer we turn to the Stoic philosopher and imperial tutor to Emperor Nero named Seneca.

What does a Stoic Philosopher have to do with Personal Development?
One day Seneca was reading one of the works of the philosopher Hecato in which Hecato said: “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.” Seneca believed that such a man who is a friend to himself is a friend to all mankind. Seneca then proposed an easy way to measure our inner level of friendliness to ourselves. He suggested that we should examine how well we respond to noise.

Noise that isn’t pleasant need never be construed as such by us to ourselves. That is not the point I’m getting at. And I’m talking of noise such as a chainsaw while you try to sleep or in my case children playing at amazing decibel levels for hours on end while I tried to study and meditate. At one point it was happening daily for several hours a day. As a result I was given a chance to really watch myself and come to learn some important lessons about how we and our inner state of being are responsible for determining how we respond to the events of the external world.

While the children played with more screaming gusto then I thought possible and I failed miserably to concentrate on my study I came to realize upon analysis that noise is simply atmosphere vibrating. Further I was unknowingly importing into the scenario a pessimistic interpretation of the children’s motives for making so much noise. They were simply enjoying life and having fun, oblivious of both myself and the serious adult world of assignment deadlines and looming exams.

What I Learned
You see we tend to interpret such situations as: the children are playing loudly in order to annoy me. When the reality is: the children are playing loudly and I am annoyed. What’s more I watched myself grow more and more frustrated and angry and realized that I was the source of the fuel of my own growing anger. I was visualizing myself going outside in a rage and screaming at everyone to be silent. Thinking about doing it meant my body actually did it without me ever leaving my chair. The more intense physiology of anger acted as a feedback loop and fueled my angry visualizations even further. I literally worked myself into a rage. Not the children. Not the noise. Myself.

These days I barely notice the noise of the children playing. I’ve even enjoyed some very interesting meditation sessions why they have been running around screaming at the top of their lungs. Thus I wholly agree with Seneca. Your level of development determines the state of your inner being and it is the state of your inner being that will determine how you chose to handle the things that occur in the external world. The more developed you are the more you will consciously remain aware. Knowing that the noise is unpleasant but not cause to be furious. The word “mad” is often synonymous with angry. When we become “mad” we stop living as conscious human beings.

So, using your reaction to annoying noise as a gage, how developed are you really? Please tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment and if you have a different method that you like to use to gage your progress along the path of personal development please do share it with us.

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