What Is Personal Development?

Personal development.

Also known as personality development, it is a word people use as per their convenience.

The ‘life-skills-training’ and personality development companies want you to believe that it’s all about different skills and how to sharpen them. A few examples:

  • Analytical skills
  • Reasoning skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills, and so on.

And by communication skills, they mean how fluent you are in English. (Is English the only scale to measure someone’s communication skills proficiency?)

They argue that personality development is also about:

  • Group discussions
  • Resolving conflicts between two parties
  • Role-plays
  • Facing interviews (what type of underwear gels with what kind of trousers) 🙂
  • Getting a job and things like that.

Agreed, these things are part of the self-improvement process, but they’re just a part, not the whole thing.

Personal Development and Positive Thinking

Next in line are positive thinkers—The New Age Gurus.

They assert that personal development is all about positive thinking.

Not exactly.

You see, the path to Self Improvement passes through the beautiful landscape of positive thinking, but it’s not the destination itself.

Personal development is more than positive thinking. And only a few people willing to risk everything without any guarantee of success can walk down this path.

Personal development is about:

Being the master of your thoughts and emotions.

How Is Personal Development Different from Positive Thinking?

Most of the times, our minds control us:

It thinks (most of the time) negatively (or positively when you push it really hard).

But the majority of the time, it has control over you.

The mind is like a car that runs and stops as and when it pleases. In other words, it has become our master.

And personal development is all about reclaiming your ownership.

So, How Do I Regain Control Over My Mind?

Here are three practical steps:

  1.  You acknowledge that the mind has become your master, and you must reclaim your authority. This realization is not just a thought but a burning desire to change your life, which could only happen when you get sick and tired of the mind being your master.
  2. You start working to turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
  3. You begin succeeding in thinking positively and gain a little control over your mind.

And then, when you get stuck between options A and B, you ask for guidance.

For example:

“Should I take this job or that one?”

“What is better at this time—searching for a job or starting my own business?”

“Should I choose a career in the medical field or sports?”

You start getting the knack of figuring out what’s right for you. It feels incredible, but wait, you are still not there.

4. You start watching your thoughts instead of getting identified with them, and they start disappearing. This stage is called ‘living in the present moment.’ And then a day comes when most of your thoughts fade away.

Now you don’t think negatively or even positively.

You don’t think any longer, not that you can’t, but because you don’t need to.

Now you know what is right for you. The need to consider and analyze ceases to exist. You become your own master.

That’s personal development.

Want to Develop Your Personality? Here Are 13 Tips

The first step to growing as a better person is to accept who you are.

Did you notice the word personality starts with ‘personal?’ If you’re keen to find out what personality development is, you must find out who you are as a person.

You see, personality development relates to you as a person: who you are, your unique personality traits, and the way you feel about yourself.

It’s about your strengths, talents, likes, and dislikes. It’s about you.

There’s no such thing as a perfect personality, so don’t waste your time chasing that mirage.

Yes, you can become better at who you already are. And that can only be done if you accept yourself the way you are, at this very moment.

1. Understand What is Personality

There are two aspects of your personality:

Core: Who You Are

Circumference: The Skills You Have

The Core of your being remains unchanged throughout your life. Because that’s your real nature, that’s who you are.

On the other hand, Circumference keeps changing and improving as you keep on learning newer and better skills.

2. Find Out the ‘Core’ of Your Personality

Let me give you my example:

I cherish my individuality. In other words, I am a solo player.

I feel comfortable when I am alone, not that I don’t like people, but I prefer my privacy. And I am kind of crazy about it.

Watching a movie all by myself is a breeze for me, and I like going alone to restaurants and parks. If someone wishes to come along, that’s OK, but I don’t ask anyone to give me company. I feel comfortable that way.

That’s my Core.

Find out your Core and start making it better.

3. Don’t Try Changing Your Core

That’s a challenge because everybody around you wants to change themselves to fit in.

Let me tell you my story:

My cousin was doing a computer course when I completed my 10+2.

Since I had no idea what I wanted to make my career in, I thought I should enroll in a short-term course in the same computer institute.

You see, I wanted to test the waters first—my choice was a six months course. But guess what, my father thought otherwise. “You should do the same as your cousin. Enroll in a 3-year course.” He said.

I didn’t want to because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. But I had no option, so I reluctantly said yes. And within the first three months, I realized that it wasn’t my cup of tea. I somehow managed to complete two years, but then I quit. The time, the money, the efforts all went into vain.

Don’t Fall for the Trap of ‘Fitting In.’

Never try to change your Core just because somebody else is doing something that you think you also must do. That’s suicidal.

Now that I know my Core, I never try to change it. I know I am a solo player, and I don’t wish to become a team player.

If despite being an individual player, I try hard to become a team player to get approval from my peers, family, or society, I’ll be in constant trouble all my life.


Because I would be trying to achieve something impossible, it’s like trying to walk with my head rather than my feet.

There’s nothing wrong with being a team player or an individual player. Both are right in their sense, but you must focus on what you are.

For example, cricket is a team sport, and only good team players can excel at that.

On the other hand, bodybuilding is an individual sport, and people who are inclined to perform alone can excel.

So you see, both cricket and bodybuilding are unique and beautiful sports, and so are the people who participate in them.

4. Accept Who You Are

Accept who you are and keep improving the real you – this is one of the most critical personality development tips for students.

If you are a team player, great, that’s your Core. On the Circumference, you can sharpen your skills to become a better team player.

If you’re an individual player, that’s fine, too. Then you should learn to improve your skills to become a better solo player.

5. Accept the Fact that You Cannot Change Everything

The problem arises when you confuse the Core, which is unchangeable, with your Circumference, which is changeable.

If you get influenced by the people around you—your classmates, parents, and society in general that it’s wrong to work alone—that you must be a team player—then you’re fucked.

The more you try to change your core, the messier your life gets. You start doubting yourself. “Oh! There must be something wrong with me. Why can’t I become a team player?”

You try harder and get knocked out again and again, and it becomes a never-ending struggle.

The only way to improve your personality is to identify your Core and do everything you can to enhance your Circumference.

6. Release Your Suppressed Energy

“The fear of offending someone is more powerful than the fear of death.” And that’s true.

We all try to please people around us (consciously or unconsciously), so we could earn respect, validation, and become popular.

And when it comes to expressing your emotions, you hold back most of the time, so your feelings don’t get control over you.

The sentiment that we control the most is anger. And when angst remains unexpressed, it poisons your whole life because you’re untrue to yourself.

Let’s say you’re angry at your college principal or your father. You wanted to say nasty things but couldn’t because you must no yell at elders—that’s unacceptable.

So, instead of releasing your anger, you suppress it to appear respectful. What do you think will happen to the violence and anxiety that was boiling inside you? It will get accumulated, and then it’ll start affecting your day-to-day activities.

You’ll start getting irritated at even the most trivial things: Somebody just pushed you in the Metro because the coach was overcrowded, and you’ll lose your temper. You’ll start getting tense even sitting alone—it’s the suppressed anger that’s taking control of you.

The solution?

Release it.

You can do that with the help of any physical activity that demands intense physical exertion.






Take your pick.

Consider ‘Dynamic Meditation’

Osho has devised a technique to release your suppressed energy—not only anger but also sadness, depression, and various other negative emotions. It is called Dynamic Meditation, and it’s one of my favorites.

Wear comfortable clothes. Play some loud music, preferably heavy metal or any other music, to awaken the wildness, the craziness within you. And then go crazy for about 20-30 minutes.

Do whatever you feel like—dance, shout, cry, scream, or make faces. Initially, you’ll need to put in some effort, but after some practice, you’ll get it. If you could let go, the body shall start expressing itself the way it wants. Once the session is over, you’ll find yourself amazingly calm.

The proper technique to release your suppressed energy is called Dynamic meditation. You can participate in that meditation if there’s an Osho meditation center in your neighborhood. The timings are from 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning throughout the year.

If you live in Delhi, visit Osho Dham. They organize various meditation camps throughout the year. Log on to OshoWorld.com for details.

7. Don’t be Over-concerned About Others’ Opinions

It was 1991.

I was spending summer vacations in my village. One afternoon my father asked me to start wearing pajamas instead of trousers. I was confused.

He explained.

A ‘Wise’ person in the village was offended seeing me wearing trousers because he never wore anything except ‘Kurta Pajama.’

Can you see how stupid some people can be?

I am not saying that you should not listen to others; you should. Looking at others’ opinions might help you clear your perspective, and you may also get to learn something beneficial. But don’t let others decide how you should live your life because that’s a little too much.

Draw a line between understanding someone’s point of view and letting them intimidate you with their judgments. Live your life as you see fit.

8. Be Vulnerable

Quite often, in my personality development workshops, I ask a silly question to the attendees—”Do you watch porn?”

Most of the students get the shock of their lives when they hear this. Girls blush, boys try to suppress their laughter, some sit with their mouths wide open in surprise, and some others look disgusted.

Almost always, nobody answers, and then, after keeping mum for some moments, finally, I speak—“Well, I do.” Then comes loud laughter followed by pin-drop silence—rarely does someone gather the courage to confess that they watch porn.

It’s not a question of watching or not watching porn. It’s about being vulnerable.

So many times, students ask me, “Sir, how can I boost self-confidence?”

See, the basic requirement for feeling confident is that you should not have much to hide.

What Are You Hiding?

Right now, you are trying too hard to hide your ‘secrets’ from others. And yet, you are shaking inside, that no matter what, somehow, others will get to know your ‘dark side.’ You are in constant tension. And this very tension will never let you feel confident.

Don’t think only you have secrets to hide. All of us do.

People around you are concerned about projecting a clean image in society. And the people, whom they are hiding the secrets from, too, are busy protecting their secrets. It’s a vicious circle.

Open up.

What does it matter if…

You watch porn.

You are not hurting anybody if you don’t take a bath every day.

It’s nobody’s business if you eat chicken for dinner or a vegetarian meal.

Don’t get bogged down. What is there to hide?

Be vulnerable, and you’ll feel confident in your skin—this confidence is not something that comes from repeating, “I am confident” hundred times a day. It comes from within as a result of you accepting yourself.

9. Change Your Beliefs

Your life is the total of your beliefs. What you hold in your mind becomes true for you.

You can change your life by changing your beliefs.

Want to become happy, healthy, and prosperous? Then it’s no use trying to change external circumstances. They are just reflections of your inner beliefs in the outer world. Instead, start changing your perceptions, and your whole world shall change.

10. Invest in Yourself

You are your most valuable asset.

You must invest in yourself—polish yourself, learn new skills every day, become a better version of yourself.

  • Read inspiring books on personal development.
  • Listen to motivational tapes.
  • Enroll in a course that can help your career move to newer heights.
  • Learn some dance moves to get an impressive body
  • Study books on how to invest in the market to get better returns.
  • Invest in programs to help you understand your business better.

Keep learning something new every day.

11. Stay Away from Negative People

Heard about leeches—the blood-sucking creatures found in dirty water?

They hook on your body and keep sucking your blood until none left.

Negative people are somewhat more harmful and dangerous than even leeches.

Because leeches only suck the blood out of their victim, while negative people suck your positive energy, your enthusiasm, your aspirations, everything.

If you’re serious about personal development, stay away from negative people.

12. Exercise Regularly

Our forefathers didn’t need exercise because staying alive itself was an exercise. People had to do hard physical labor to collect food and survive amidst the dangers of wild animals, natural calamity, and diseases.

Times have changed, and now many of us sit in front of a computer screen to earn our livelihoods. There’s little to no physical activity, which slows down our system and makes us feel lethargic.  But our body needs exercise to stay fit.

I am not saying that you should run every day, though you can if that makes you feel good. But yes, you must exercise often.



Play tennis.

Play football.

Why? Even running with your dog would do.

How about walking instead of taking a cycle-rickshaw? Use common sense to find ways to keep fit.

13. Spend Some Time in Nature

The modern world has lost contact with nature. Most of the time, we are in cabins, homes, taxis, cars, trains, planes, with no or minimal contact with nature.

Give yourself a break.

Switch off your mobile phone, shut down your computer.

Go out in a park, countryside, deserted area, lake, river—any place where you can contact nature. If that’s not possible at the moment, wait till night and when the sky illuminates with stars, gaze at them and let them fill your heart with wonder and awe.

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