The pace of modernity where everything (material wealth, knowledge, entertainment) is growing makes us automatically think that everything MUST grow. That the increase of things (growth) is automatically better. Such that it becomes an unconscious habit, something we expect and strive for without even realising it. And, such a growth mindset can become dangerous.
A particular type of growth mindset
This way of doing things may be quite alright when applied to innovation or to material development. As long as we don’t destroy the planet in the process. The difficulty is when we apply the more-is-better mentality to ourselves. How we relate to our lives and to very existence. Such that we risk seeking and seeking, but never finding. Never really feeling like we have arrived. We keep running and running, non-consciously trying to prove our worth through ‘more’, because we doubt it so much.
The growth mindset that I am talking about here is not the conventional idea that ‘change is possible’. Of course, it is! Why would one even think otherwise? We are each, in a sense, constantly in a state of self-renewal. If there is anything certain in life, it is that everything changes, everything flows. The growth mindset I am talking about here believes that “increase must happen, more is necessary”. It is that dangerous place of clinging to ‘future ‘increase’ (growth) to find certainty and security — to feel like a success. Future increase that leaves us feeling no different, even when it comes.
Because this growth mindset that believes ‘things must increase to be good’ is everywhere, we can easily miss it. Since it is all around us and reinforced by the people in our lives, we don’t pay attention to it. It is as familiar as the ground we walk on, yet this familiarity lives outside of conscious attention. So, we must first notice it, before we can break free from it.
Of course, some growth (say material development) may bring benefits, but it is not the ‘thing’ — human wellbeing is the thing. Otherwise, what’s the growth for!? In the same way, one may run after more status achievements to feel happy, constantly deferring inner fulfilment to a future that never comes. One may even chase after personal growth, as if it were a ladder one climbs to someday find happiness at the top.
Growth mindset as a force of modernity
All this only betrays a central theme in modernity. One that elevates false indicators of value above the actual things of value themselves. Be it grades above true learning, diplomas above real skill, political correctness above genuine discourse, or growth above human wellbeing and fulfilment.
Growth for growth’s sake, whether technological, material or personal, is then another one of these falsehoods. It has no intrinsic value. It is not where we will find contentment and inner freedom in our lives. And, this growth mindset may keep you stumbling in the dark forever, if you are not careful.
How much is it at play in your life?
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.