What is success for you?

Business_kid
How many times has your concept, your idea of "success" actually gotten in the way feeling fulfilled?

Often, at a young age, we have a peak experience of freedom, aliveness, love, or fulfillment that occurs during an activity we're doing.  And our young, child mind develops the concept that this feeling, plus this situation, plus the people around me who confirm this story, equal success. 

The truth is that the activity is the portal, the context through which we experience that expansive feeling.  And yet, as humans often do, we associate that feeling with the activity we're doing.  Suddenly and unconsciously, it's not, "I surrendered my body and mind to my activity, and I felt alive!" it's, "I hit the winning home run, the entire crowd cheered, and I felt alive!"  We begin to form a concept about succeeding at baseball as the source of our aliveness.

Perhaps, years later, you "awaken" feeling unfulfilled (hopefully not, but if so, keep reading!)  Perhaps you have had a successful baseball career and yet never touched the heart of your original peak experience.  Or, you may have struggled for both success and fulfillment.  I often speak with comedians who are talented, funny, and accomplished (who also make lots of money at comedy and perform frequently), yet there is a lingering emptiness.  Often in America, we shy away from looking at this emptiness and want to leave it as soon as possible.  And yet, if we are willing to dive into the center of the "hole" in a safe context, we can come out the other side with our heart's treasure.*

One way you can begin to release of your concept of success is to invite yourself to play again.  Set aside an hour with no interruptions and set out an open-ended activity that brings you joy.  You could play guitar, paint, make a collage, sing, roll down a grassy hill, skip rocks…  Find a way to re-create the joy, even for a few minutes, of a time when the activity was more important than the outcome.  And before you go back to your day, write about what happened during your experience and what thoughts or voices arose for you.   

        "Success is getting what you want.  Happiness is wanting what you get."

        –Dale Carnegie

*For further reading: A. H. Almaas, The Diamond Approach

It’s never too late!

Butterfly
"This isn't what I meant to do!"  "This isn't where I meant to be!"  "What the heck happened to all those years?"

Often in our lives, through a series of conscious and unconscious choices, we find ourselves in a different place in our lives than we had once imagined we would be.  We reach a milestone age, or we see friends or even public figures accomplishing something, and as we compare ourselves, we feel a poignant mixture of jealousy, desire, regret, and hope about where we are.  Many of us will take the exit ramp right there, and drown in these thoughts and emotions.  Some of us divert ourselves from even feeling the emotions by watching television, drinking, eating, falling in love, etc…

Yet no matter how we try to avoid that call, that little phone will keep ringing.  Picking it up, even when it's yapping about what's wrong, is in fact a great step to take!  This is a really powerful moment of choice, and it's important to listen to the deeper message beneath the surface.  By identifying and dealing compassionately with the "chatter", we can get to what's really important.  Notice the voices that say, "If I really was meant to be successful, I wouldn't have wasted all this time." "I shouldn't have taken time off from my career while everyone else was getting ahead."  "There are so many people who want to succeed in my field more than me, how can I possibly make it?" 

Make a list of what all those voices say, and then put it aside for now.  Next, take a few deep breaths and quiet your mind.  What is the deep desire beneath your fears?  What is your spirit longing for?  What does your heart whisper to your ears?  This wish will never be extinguished. And even if you discover it in your last breath, it won't have been too late.  Each twist and turn along your journey has brought you to this perfect moment, and your soul has its own perfect way of fulfilling its purpose right where you are, right now.  Everything you need is available to you now. 

Could you summon the courage to surrender to your own spirit, just for this moment?

        -"The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."

        -Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working."