Are you growing or are you stagnating?
It can sometimes be hard to tell.
Especially if you are prone to self-criticism and condemnation.
The 10 traits and behaviors listed below are surefire indicators that you’re experiencing a startling amount of personal growth.
Furthermore, they’re generally associated with happy, successful individuals.
Take a look and see if any of them ring true to you.
1. You genuinely want everyone to succeed.
People who are emotionally stunted tend to compete with others rather than feel happy for them when they succeed in some fashion.
Even if they aren’t in direct competition with the other person, they might feel resentment if someone they know succeeds at something and they don’t have anything to show for their efforts.
In fact, they might even feel resentful if others have the same amount of success that they do! They always want to be the best and come out on top, even at the expense of others.
But if you are on the path to personal growth, you will wish the best for everyone. You want others to succeed, and you want others to be happy.
This includes being happy for whoever wins the gold medal if you only win silver, or being delighted that your best friend is going on an exotic vacation while you’re stuck at work.
2. You’re happy to ask for help, and do so often.
People who are insecure and unsure of themselves tend to pretend that they know everything, rather than asking for help or for additional information.
You, on the other hand, have solid self-awareness and feel strong and confident in yourself. You recognize that there’s always more to learn, and thus ask accordingly.
You are aware of your own abilities and limitations. As a result, you’re smart enough to ask for help when you need it—whether it’s to ask some friends to help you move, or to reach out for professional help if your physical or mental health is suffering.
Although people are encouraged to be as self-sufficient as possible, none of us can navigate life on our own.
If you’ve reached a point where you’re aware of when you need help, and are comfortable asking for it, that’s a massive sign that you’re growing successfully as an individual.
3. You’re far more resilient than you realize.
Most of us can be a bit brittle in stressful situations, but when you realize that you can get through difficulty with grace, that’s a huge indicator of personal growth.
A lot of people try to avoid difficult situations because they’re uncomfortable. As a general rule, human beings don’t like to feel hurt. We don’t like stress or anxiety, and we certainly don’t like to deal with the pain of rejection, loss, or despair.
In fact, nowadays most people are quick to label difficult circumstances as “traumatic,” and are determined to avoid similar situations again for the rest of their lives.
The thing is, life is going to challenge every individual in different ways. Furthermore, not every challenging situation is a “trauma.”
These challenges offer us the opportunity to develop our own repertoire of coping skills, which won’t be developed if we go through life wrapped in cotton wool, rather than contending with hardship.
Difficult situations will still suck, but if you have the toolkit to handle them and work through them, you’ll be able to heal and bounce back from them much more quickly and easily.
4. You are able to see things from different perspectives.
It’s a fact of life that we can’t ever truly understand what’s going on inside the head of another person.
But, we can do our best to put ourselves in their shoes and see their thoughts and actions through the lens of their experiences.
In fact, being able to not only see a different perspective but accept it as valid—even if you wholeheartedly disagree with it—is a huge sign that you are developing some awesome self-awareness and empathy.
You’ve come to realize that your lived experience is but one among billions. You know that we are all unique and that being able to see something through the eyes of another can be hugely informative.
You can learn a lot about a subject, but more importantly, you can learn a lot about the person whose perspective you are trying to understand. Both are hugely valuable.
5. You respond to situations rather than reacting to them.
When and if you find yourself in a challenging situation, you utilize critical thinking skills and choose to respond in a rational manner, rather than with impulsive, emotional, knee-jerk reactions.
This is an invaluable skill to have, as it can go a long way toward maintaining healthy relationships—whether personal or professional.
People who haven’t learned how to rein in and control their emotions often react impulsively, unleashing their full fury or howling despair at another, only to feel intense embarrassment later once they’ve calmed down and looked at the situation with greater clarity.
If you’ve mastered the fine art of taking a few deep breaths and responding calmly, even if you’re incandescent with rage, then pat yourself on the back. This is a huge sign that you’re well on the path to personal growth and success.
6. You own up to your mistakes (and take action to rectify them).
The way we respond to messing up speaks volumes about who we are as people.
For example, someone who tries to hide or cover up a mistake will be seen as untrustworthy, while a person who tries to blame another for their mistakes will earn contempt for their irresponsibility and underhanded behavior.
It’s a massive sign of self-growth to be able to not just admit when you’ve made a mistake, but to take firm action to rectify it.
This can apply across the board—at work, at school, and in your various relationships.
In fact, it’s one of the most important things to be able to do in an intimate partnership. If you can acknowledge that you messed up and show—not just say—that you’re both willing and eager to make amends, you prove how reliable you are.
7. You look at your past with more self-compassion.
How often have you lain awake at night, cringing over awkward or questionable things you said or did in the past?
That’s happened to almost all of us, but a strong indicator of self-growth is the ability to look at your past with more compassion than condemnation.
Do you hate yourself or feel intense embarrassment for having soiled your diaper as an infant? Probably not.
We have a strange misconception that we should innately know how to respond to any given situation or circumstance by the time we reach a certain age, when in reality we’re all constantly learning by experience and observation.
For instance, we don’t necessarily know how to tend a wound effectively until we suffer one, nor do we know how to stop a printer from exploding paper until we have to deal with one going berserk.
You know you’re on an excellent path of self-growth when you can look at a past misstep and think, “That was awkward and awful, but I didn’t know better at the time and learned a lot from my experience.”
8. You’re more open-minded.
A massive indicator of personal growth is the ability to be open-minded about subjects or items that you may have previously been biased toward.
This may be as simple as being open to buying an item that’s a different brand from your usual favorite, or as complex as researching a philosophy that you may have been prejudiced toward.
For some people, it involves getting out of their comfort zones and trying raw oysters or haggis instead of sticking to pizza or nachos.
By being open-minded, you allow yourself the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.
After all, knowing yourself is one of the most important things you can do in this lifetime, and you won’t be able to know more about the glorious unicorn that is YOU unless you try out a variety of different things and perspectives.
You may not like everything you try, and in fact, you may be downright disgusted with some of the subjects (or flavors) that you delve into, but that merely broadens your self-knowledge.
Furthermore, others will respect you far more for trying something and not liking it, than cowing to cowardice and hesitation and never trying anything at all.
9. You strive for balance in your life.
One of the hallmarks of a successful person is their ability to attain a measure of personal balance.
This can look different for each individual, but generally refers to finding a magical middle ground between work, play, responsibility, and replenishment.
Some people perpetually deplete themselves by overworking, while others make outings and playtime more of a priority than they should.
Similarly, some neglect self-care because they think it’s an irresponsible indulgence and that only lazy people sleep a full eight hours or take time for hobbies and games.
Balance is everything, and if you find that you’re sleeping enough, working enough, and simply enjoying life enough, then you’re doing things right.
10. You have sincere gratitude.
Most people only learn to enjoy life’s little pleasures and blessings after they’ve experienced a calamitous event.
I’ll be honest here and say that I didn’t truly appreciate running water until storms knocked my utilities out for two weeks.
Similarly, someone may not have real gratitude for good food, great companionship, or warm, clean socks unless they’ve gone without them for a while.
That said, some people are able to show sincere gratitude for every blessing in their life because they’re painfully aware of how much more dismal life would be without them.
Do you take the time to savor each cup of coffee like it’s either your first or your last? How about being fully present when you cuddle your animal companion or listen to wind rustle autumn leaves?
The ability to have real, honest gratitude is an incredible indicator of personal growth. You don’t take these “little” things for granted, which means you won’t lose sight of how important and special the bigger things are in your life.
We’re all constantly growing and evolving, and if you don’t already embody all these indicators, that’s okay—there is still plenty of time.
Being a successful human being involves allowing things to happen in their natural time rather than forcing them.
You can be aware of personal behaviors and try to course-correct if and when you find yourself slipping off the path, but much like toddlers and teenagers suddenly shooting up several inches in height, growth most often occurs when you least suspect it, and will only be noticed in retrospect.