An individual’s ‘personality’ is their unique and relatively stable patterns of behaviour, thoughts and feelings. The key word is ‘relatively’. It implies that there is scope for change, that one’s personality is not necessarily constant. The influence of various aspects of our environment may affect our inherent behavioural traits, and can modify our personality. Personality development, therefore, is to allow new ideas to influence our personality, and to allow introspection to bring to the forefront latent qualities, effecting a change for the better. There are four aspects to an individual’s personality: body, mind, heart and soul.
Several factors contribute to one’s personality, to the development of one’s personality. These are all integral to the above mentioned aspects. The recognition, and consequently, the maintenance and progress of these factors – whether physiological or psychological, whether internal or external – is essential for ‘personality development’. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmities. Fitness is a measure of the body’s ability to complete activities necessary for everyday life effectively and efficiently.
The basic difference between the two is that health is a definite requisite for one’s life, while fitness is only a measure. Both terms are relative, but health is more of a necessity than fitness, especially for developing one’s personality. An important aspect of our personality is our intelligence. It is important to note that intelligence is not restricted just to the scholarly; it encompasses the various sides to one’s personality – linguistic, logical, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist, and spiritual, to name a few.
And improvement is required in all these spheres for an overall development of one’s personality. Our ‘social skills’ or interpersonal relationships, our ability to establish, nurture and fulfill relationships with others around us – family or friends, plays a pivotal role in our lives. This ability, too, needs to be developed. Our Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) – the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage emotions within ourselves and in others, is very important. Emotions are our responses to events around us, and are created by the combination of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
What is most important is that we create our own emotions. Our responses are shaped by our thoughts – by what we tell ourselves. As we clarify our understanding of our own beliefs and patterns, we learn that we are actually choosing our own lives. Feelings are the internal expression of the emotion and can be differentiated from body sensations and states: “feeling depressed. ” The emotion ‘behind’ the feeling of depression: sadness or anger. Emotion, therefore, includes the situation, the interpretation or perception of the situation and the response or feeling related to the perception of the situation.
Our speaking and listening skills are another important element. Speaking, or conveying our thoughts and emotions, and listening, or paying enough attention to what someone else has to say, both are essential for developing and maintaining relationships. Communication is a two-way process, and we need to be able to eloquently and adequately put across our thoughts to others, as well as be able to listen (hear, understand and judge) to the ideas of others. We express ourselves non-verbally too – through our postures and body language.
This is also an important tool for communication. Our body language not only gives away our emotions sometimes, it also allows people to guess whether we are confident when we are speaking, whether we are actually listening to the other person, and so on. Our relationship skills are also influenced by our prejudices – opinions or judgements, frequently unfavourable, based on irrelevant considerations, inadequate knowledge or inaccurate stereotyping, and the consequent discriminations we make.
People have prejudices for diverse reasons and these biases affect many spheres of their lives; they are negative manifestations of integrative power: instead of bringing or holding people together, they push them apart. Ironically, even prejudice and discrimination imply some sort of relationship, however. If there is no relationship people would be completely unaware of another person’s or group’s existence. The act of discrimination is an unjust practice or behaviour, whether intentional or not, towards a category of persons.
These categories range from sex, ethnicity, nationality, religion, language, to class, and more recently, age and physical disabilities. Prejudices and discriminations are deeply imbedded at both the individual and societal levels, and will eventually result in the dissolving of society. The next important aspect that needs to be attended to is our academic and career requirements. We should adopt some basic “study skills” to successfully remember what we learn from an adequate period of time. The following is an example: P – Preview: get the overall picture of what is to be studied before doing it in any detail.
Q – Question: ask questions while reading or studying; answering them will help to make sense of the material and to remember it more easily because the process will make an impression. R – Read and Review: read actively; to be able to answer questions you have asked yourself or questions the instructor has asked. A review is a survey of what you have covered, of what you are supposed to accomplish. S – Self Evaluation: testing yourself to see how much you have accomplished. T – Time Management: Time is the most valuable resource a student has. A good schedule keeps you from wandering off course.
A good schedule, if properly managed, assigns time where time is needed. Certain methods and strategies can be adopted for more effective studying and more adequate preparation for examinations: making schedules first and sticking to them; reading and getting the main idea, extracting the important details and taking (or making) notes, reviewing and revising the actual substance, as well as the notes. After the more ‘material’ aspects comes, what some claim is, the ultimate intelligence. Spiritual intelligence is about the growth of a human being. It is about pondering over life’s purpose. Just being in touch with that question is fulfilling.
About having a direction in life and being able to heal ourselves of all the resentment we carry. It is thinking of ourselves as an expression of a higher reality. Finally there is the realization that there is an immensity within us. As we move along the path, deeper levels within us get unfolded, leading to fulfillment. Ultimately, we discover freedom from our sense of limitation as human beings and attain ‘moksha’. Indeed, this is a highly idealized perception of spiritual intelligence or spirituality; most humans are essentially spiritual beings asking such fundamental questions as “Who am I? , “Where am I going? “, “What do others mean to me? “, but spiritual intelligence itself is extremely relative. It can, perhaps, more simply be defined as the realization of one’s purpose in life and the achievement of the same, the feeling of being in control, of being aware of oneself and one’s environment. Life’s purposes are varied for different individuals, and it requires inspiration to be able to recognize them, and moreover, to live by them. We need to: Listen to our inner voice. It takes practice to hear our true desires. The passion will come as a whisper or serendipitous event hat reminds us of what is important and what makes us happy. Dwell in possibilities. Our passions could lead us in a lot of different directions to find fulfillment. We have to explore our lives and unearth all the things that bring us joy. Decide what kind of person we want to be. Rather than concentrating on what we want to do, we should think in terms of what kind of person we want to be, and let that guide our choices. The ultimate attainment of fulfillment will come naturally, in time, with the gradual awakening of our spiritual senses, like the well-deserved rest at the end of the day.
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