Symbolic meaning of ‘Personal Growth’: Symbolizes the acceptance of past experiences, the openness to new challenges; continued development and maturity
Material possessions can have a symbolic meaning of personal growth, related to past and future development. Such symbolic meaning can occur because the possession marks transition moments, evokes past experiences and lessons learned, or enables and represents the engagement in new opportunities or challenges. Products with a symbolic meaning of personal growth contribute to subjective well-being because they support a sense of continuous development and maturity.
An example of a material possession with the symbolic meaning of personal growth is a set of military name tags that represents a difficult stage in a person’s life, but also the acceptance of past experiences and the development into maturity.
To help designers use the six happiness-related symbolic meanings, we developed 16 specific design directions. These are the ones most related to personal growth:
Support active personal development, by providing a platform for active reflection on lessons learned and future expectations. (Linked to the symbolic meaning of personal growth)
…through which processes, actions or activities can your user reflect on life and on personal growth?
Embody personal growth, by focusing on adaptability to accommodate physical and psychological change. (Linked to the symbolic meaning of personal growth)
…in what meaningful ways can your user change or develop (physically and psychologically)?
…what processes, actions or activities are related to it?
Support acceptance and growth from past experiences, by providing a tangible representation of the passage of time. (Linked to the symbolic meaning of personal growth)
…what scale of time is most relevant for your user?
Enhance memories, by offering a positive context or activity to reflect on memories of loved ones. (Linked to the symbolic meaning of personal growth)
…who are your user’s loved ones?
…what positive memories does your user have with his/her loved ones (places, moments, life milestones, etc.)?
In addition, designers and design researchers helped us select some product examples to illustrate this symbolic meaning:
OWL (On the Wisdom of Life) by Designs On is a is a time capsule with tubes which contain reflections on the past and hopes for the future. It relates to the symbolic meaning personal growth because it facilitates active reflection on was has been learned in the past and on expectations for the future.
The Weight Recorder by Wu Weiche marks the changing weight of a pregnant mother, drawing it on a disk that can be preserved. It relates to the symbolic meaning personal growth because it adapts to changes and records them, creating a tangible representation of progress and growth.
The 365 Knitting Clock by Siren Wilhelmsen works for one year producing a wearable “past” scarf that can be carried out in the future. It relates to the symbolic meaning personal growth because a person can have a reminder of their actions, thoughts, moments, decisions, etc., from the past year – either to learn from mistakes or to celebrate achievements.
The Heirloom by Nikki George Ferguson holds an inherited object in a glass jar, and its stories recorded by the owner before passing it on. It relates to the symbolic meaning personal growth because it provides a platform for reflection on memories and legacy of loved ones. It also relates to the symbolic meaning of personal relations with others.