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Personal Development for Smart People

The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth
Steve Pavlina
20091015

About This Book

The goal of this book is to teach you how to bring all areas of your life into alignment with these universal principles. This requires injecting truth into your relationships, aligning your career with love, and bringing power to your spiritual practice. This is what it means to live as a conscious, intelligent human being. The more your life aligns with these principles, the smarter you become.

This book offers you a new way of thinking about personal growth from high-level concepts to practical actions. You won’t need different rules for maintaining your health, building your career, and caring for your relationships. The core principles of growth don’t change from one area of life to the next, nor do they vary from person to person. Once you understand how they work, you’ll be able to use them to improve your results in any endeavor.

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Spirituality and Intelligence

personal development

In order for your spiritual practice to be truly authentic, you can’t compartmentalize it. You can’t be a spiritual person for an hour each weekend and then put that part of yourself on hold when you go to work on Monday moring. An intelligent spiritual practice is a holistic one. It integrates with all parts of your life, including your career, your finances, your health, and your relationships.

According to the principles of truth, love, and power, the highest level of spiritual attainment would be perfect alignment with those principles, which implies perfect intelligence. The ultimate ideal of any sound spiritual path is to be infinitely truthful, infinitely loving, and infinitely powerful. By extension, ths also requires infinite oneness, infinite authority, and infinite courage. The ultimate spiritual pursuit is to strive to live congruently with all of these.

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Spirituality and Courage

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In today’s world, it takes courage to think for yourself instead of blindly swallowing what others want you to believe. It’s up to you to hold yourself to the path with a heart and to follow it wherever it may lead, regardless of how others judge you for it. In the end, your spiritual practice must be immensely personal and consciously chosen.

As you progress along your unique spiritual path, you may experience periods of prolonged confusion lasting several weeks or longer. During such times, you may feel distant and disconnected. Reality suddenly makes very little sense to you, and you become uncertain of everything.

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Spirituality and Authority

personal development

The principle of authority makes it clear that yielding control of your spiritual life to someone else is a mistake. You must be the ultimate authority in your life—not God; and not some guru, master, or teacher. Your spiritual practice is yours to direct. Feel free to consult with whomever you wish, but don’t forget that you’re in command. You can’t delegate your spiritual authority to anyone else. Ultimately this is a quest you msut pursue for yourself.

In order for your beliefs to be aligned with authority, they must be effective. This means that they must ultimately satisfy the following eight criteria:

1.  Accurate. Effective beliefs must be consistent with your observations of reality. Your beliefs can’t contradict any facts you know to be true.

2.  All-inclusive. For your beliefs to be effective, they must collectively address your entire field of experience. If you experience things that lie outside your beliefs about reality, then your belief system is incomplete, and an incomplete belief system can never be fully trusted.

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Spirituality and Oneness

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Since we’re all inherently connected, we constantly influence each other by the spiritual choices we make. Consequently, our spiritual practice isn’t merely an individual issue. Our personal spirituality has a collective impact.

When I (Steve Pavlina) was about 12 years old, I met another boy who was an atheist. I assumed that meant he must be misguided or evil in some way, since that’s how I was taught to view non-Catholics. He didn’t believe in God, so I concluded there must be something terribly wrong with him. Why else would he be doomed to spend eternity in hell? However, as I got to know him, I discovered to my surprise that he was actually a very nice person, and he and I remained friends for years. As hard as I tried, I could find no evidence that he was evil. This was confusing to me because it conflicted with what I’d been taught all my life. My beliefs encouraged me to disconnect from this boy, but I chose to align with love and connect with him anyway, thereby experiencing an important step on my path of spiritual growth.

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Spirituality and Power

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One of the most empowering choices you can make is to decouple your spiritual beliefs from your identity. Despite how firmly held your beliefs may be, they can never define you. If you change your faith, you’re still you. A fixed belief system can only limit your ability to grow; it’s like permanently closing one eye and denying yourself access to your natural stereo vision.

Personal attachment to beliefs, especially cultural and spiritual beliefs, is unfortunately very common. While experiencing a belief system from the inside is generally a wise choice, equating your identity with any fixed notion is a disempowering mistake. As the principle of truth reveals, beliefs are lenses through which you can view reality. Every lens reveals some aspects of reality while hiding others. The more lenses you experience, the more complete your understanding of the whole. Even if you become incredibly attached to one particular lens, it remains simply a lens and cannot define you. Attachment to one specific view of reality limits your power and curtails your ability to connect with people who hold different lenses.

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Spirituality and Love

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A love-centered spiritual practice should help you become more connected with yourself and others. While some spiritual seekers eschew the modern world and withdraw into solitude, there’s no reason you must adopt such a lifestyle. It’s possible pursue spiritual development in isolation, but the principle of love suggests it’s at least as important to do so by interacting with other people. If we’re all spiritually connected anyway, then why not explore that through direct interaction?

Quiet reflection and meditation can be powerful spiritual practices to help you connect within, but it’s best if they’re combined with abundant social interaction. Allow yourself to gain spiritaul lessons both from your inner world and your outer world. Sometimes your answers will come from stillness; other times they’ll come from direct communication. Listen to both channels.

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Spirituality and Truth

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A sound spiritual philosophy must be firmly rooted in truth. This requires that we strive to perceive reality as accurately as possible. How exactly can we achieve accuracy when trying to perceive the true nature of reality? We can’t just use our eyes and ears to look up the meaning of life.

A practical solution to this dilemma is to view reality through multiple belief systems in order to seek the big picture. Your beliefs act as lenses that cause you to focus on different aspects of reality. A Muslim, a Buddhist, and an agnostic may all view the world differently, yet there are clearly areas where their perceptions overlap. When we dismiss the incongruencies, we find there are areas of consensus. What’s most notable is that the commonalities consist of the universal principles of truth, love, and power. To the degree that various spiritual philosophies agree with each other, they all encourage their practitioners to seek greater alignemtn with truth, love, and power. In the areas where they don’t agree, you’ll typically find falsehood, disconneciton, and disempowerment. Despite the wide range of spiritual belief systems, it’s wonderful to see that the common denominator is that we all inherently value these three fundamental principles.

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