Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Lesson in Three Trees

Christmas is almost here and as usual people have drug trees into their homes and covered them with pretty lights. In choosing a tree they can choose to have a fake, plastic tree that gets stored in the attic after the holiday season ends. They could go out and choose a tree that is cut down from a farm or forest or they can keep a tree around all year growing in a pot to use when the holiday season comes around. These three trees can also represent three attitudes and habits related to personal growth.

The Plastic Tree

Ah, the old plastic tree it has its advantages, less work, easy storage and no dropped needles, but it has a downfall, it is fake. There is also the fake tree approach to personal growth. This usually comes when we do not want to change but have others pressuring us to change. We act "better" around these other people but when we are left to our own devices we easily fall back into our bad habits. This can look like personal growth from the outside but nothing changes on the inside.

The Dead Tree

Another option is to find a real tree, cut it down and bring it inside. We feed and water the tree throughout the holidays but as the season wears on it becomes dry and brittle, needles fall off and soon it is time to set it on the curb for the garbage man to pick up. These dead trees are the New Year's resolutions of the personal growth world. These are the things we start, find to be difficult to keep going and stop. Then a few months, years or decades later we decide we need to work on that again. Now we have to go back out in the cold and chop the tree down again, drag it back to the house and fight with it to stand up straight. In other words we have to do all the ground work of trying to change again: preparing our self mentally, devising a plan and putting that plan in to action.

The Living Tree

Ah, the living tree. Take a seedling or sapling and place it in a pot and bring it in every year. Sure it is more work than the others. You have to care for it year round, but it does not drop needles and it grows with you. This tree represents the persistent approach to personal growth. It takes care everyday to keep growing and keep the changes that you have made in your life on track, but it is worth the effort. The work is real and comes from the inside creating change rather than just dragging the appearance of change down from the attic. Also it does not damage our mental environment by leaving stumps of failure to tear down our confidence. And after a year or two of care and feeding, the little tree grows and becomes strong, able to stand on its own


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