There is a problem with my theory of human development. People who are happy where they are don’t want to change; thus people who are living a life of mostly pleasurable activities have little motivation to grow to an emotionally more mature state. A forty-year-old person who is living a pleasurable life has little motivation to prove themselves to be a superior person and when they have free time will seek out fun activities. Here in Bend, Oregon, there are plenty of wonderful outdoor activities readily available, such as skiing and snowmobiling in the woods. In the summer there are thousands of miles of beautiful trails in all sorts of exotic terrain and snow-covered volcanos to climb. It is a tourist paradise, and many previous tourists have chosen to reside here so they can do fun things every day.
I am enthusiastic about doing fun activities too and believe that everyone should participate in those things some of the time. The problem is that many people here get locked into that fun lifestyle and are prevented from growing their personality structure into a style that would make them even happier and their lives more fulfilled. They believe that when they are having fun they are living at the pinnacle of perfection. So why should they change when the more mature lifestyles would make demands upon them which they would not want to endure?
The next step up from a child’s lifestyle of fun is to demonstrate themselves to be worthy people by proving their skill at some activity where they compete with others of their level. Proof can come through accomplishment in sports by demonstrating physical prowess, in school where they prove mental ability, and at work where they prove their productive ability coupled with the ability to make money. Those are adolescent goals and they are more demanding than just having fun, but they have a greater reward in personal satisfaction that remains with them after the fun time is over.
The question becomes, what motivates a child to strive to prove themselves to be considered worthy in other people’s estimation? Being worthy is more demanding than just having fun and simply cultivating the ability to take pleasure in one’s bodily sensations. Why bother? Why should I care what other people think of me? I can’t control what they think, what they feel, what they believe. I just do my thing and let them think whatever they want to. What they think is none of my business. Besides, striving to prove some ability is hard, and I don’t like doing things that are demanding of my time and energy when there is no immediate reward, where there is no instant fun.
Apparently, for a childish personality to be motivated to grow toward adolescence requires some pain as well as pleasure. Perhaps just seeing their friends doing things better than they can is a painful motivation. For this level of personality development to flower may require some form of social pressure from their peers, and if that is the situation it becomes important who their peers are and the manifestations their group values as worthy of emulation.
Choose to associate with people who have the values you want to have.