What is it that prompts emotional growth? For biological things, nutrients and environment are the biggest factors, along with any motivated conditioning. But what about love, compassion, or social awareness? If one is loved does one learn love? If one is shown compassion is it learnable?
Physical growth is possible largely due to physical factors. So is emotional growth based on emotional factors? From my experience it seems like dramatic change prompts growth, however this may only be as the change is memorable, so the events immediately afterwards tend to be catalogued with more scrutiny. Am I able to love as I do now because of thirty years of slow, accumulated caring? Could I have realized these things any sooner if I had diverted more resources to the cause? If that is the case, then we do have direct control over how growth as human beings. Our free will permits us the opportunity to optimize this equation. So it is quite true that a man is best judged not by what he has, but how he spends his time.
This is another thing I mean to understand more fully in my heart. If I did there would be much less guilt in my life, and much more satisfaction. Thanks to the powers that gave me the conscience to realize this.