Beginning in early childhood, many of us have been taught that success must look a certain way. For some, it is a house in the suburbs, a wealth of possessions and a prestigious, lucrative career. For others, it is marriage and children. These measures of success are typically handed down to us from our parents and ancestors, and while done in love and with the very best of intentions, often create limitations on the possibilities in our very own lives.
Many who possess material wealth often realize at some point in their life that the things that they have worked so hard for and for which they sacrificed so much have not made them truly happy. I am one of these people. I know many of these people. This is not to say that material things are bad, far from it. Having a roof over one’s head, food on the table and clothes on your back is extremely important. Just as importantly, coming to this realization should not elicit any sense of regret, for everything in our human experience is vital to our continued growth. My point is, moreso, that the focus in attaining those things, especially when it has been done in order to live up to someone else’s idea of success, has diverted our gaze from what is ultimately the most important thing that we were put on this Earth to experience. True, authentic and unbridled Joy. And Kindness. And Happiness. And Love.
To me, success is someone who is loving, compassionate and that special-kind-of-happy that belies understanding. It is sharing that love, kindness and happiness with the world in whatever means feels right. It is living in awe of the simple beauty of the Universe, while also recognizing and facing darkness with strength, empathy and understanding. It is living honestly and authentically. It is unapologetically pursuing that which you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is your purpose. It is remembering that you were divinely and lovingly created. For in pursuing this version of success, the impact you have on your corner of the world (and its future generations) and beyond, is immeasurable.
R. W. Emerson’s poem, Success, sums it up nicely:
To Laugh Often and Love Much
To Win the Respect of Intelligent People and Affection of Children
To Earn the Appreciation of Honest Critics and Endure the Betrayal of False Friends
To Appreciate Beauty
To Find the Best in Others
To Leave the World a Little Better Whether by a Healthy Child, A Garden Patch or a Redeemed Social Condition
To Know even One Life Has Breathed Easier Because YOU Have Lived
This is to Have SUCCEEDED
I want to be this kind of successful. How about you?