Life is full of transition and change. It is full of many moments where we learn about who we really are and what life really means to us.

Much of the growth we experience is when we are able to overcome challenges, move beyond our comfort zone, and become a more virtuous and refined person.

Positive psychology offers a few considerations that can help us be stronger in difficult times and begin to look for opportunities amongst challenges.

Here are three ways that we can seek growth and expand as a person.

Growth by adversity

Think back on a time when you experienced adversity. How did you handle this? Did you shrivel up and wilt away, or did you persevere and come away an even stronger person than before?

Adversity can come in many domains, such as interpersonal, professional, financial, or spiritual, though regardless of what area in life we encounter adversity; it offers us a chance for personal growth.

For example, conflict in relationships can help us build a stronger bond, and growing pains in our professional life provide us the means to cope with stress and be a better leader in the long-run.

Ultimately, working through setbacks, trauma, or failure teaches us many lessons and we learn how resilient we really are.

How have you bounced back from a problem or failure to experience growth?

Growth by Awe and Beauty

Sometimes experiencing inspiration and pure wonder can lead to a change in how we view the world and our existence.

Think of a time you witnessed something so awe-inspiring, such as the Grand Canyon or an amazing work of architecture, that it altered your perception of what is possible. Maybe an inexplicable spiritual experience helped you expand by leaving you feeling astounded.

Whenever we are able to directly experience the vastness of the world and move beyond ourselves it provides us a chance to change how we see things and become more open to what is possible.

Start to notice the beauty in everyday life. Make time to embrace the art and aesthetic value of the world around you. This can come from visiting a museum, spend time in nature, or enjoying musical talent at a concert.

Growth by Doing Good

Another way to grow is by beginning to explore how we can serve other. When we start focusing on others instead of ourselves we can begin to make a major difference in the world. We are able to connect with a purpose and make a conscious effort to help others live more virtuously.

As we develop our personal ethics and integrity, the way we live our life will drastically change. The decisions we make will be based on personal values and convictions that are aligned with moral principles.

Growth comes from personal transformation, whether it is intention or circumstantial. As we change and become a more courageous and humble person, it opens our eyes to the fullness of life, and expands our willingness to put ourselves on the line and live from a place of character and strength.

Photo credit: burstingwithcolors




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    Last reviewed: 6 Dec 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). Three Ways to Expand and Grow as a Person. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from



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