How do you define “success”? What makes a day successful for you? I struggle with feeling like my day was a failure unless I get a bunch of “stuff” done. Do you know what I mean? Starting and finishing projects, making plans, writing, building things, and so on are all important and matter … YET, they’re NOT what matters most in life! With that in mind, I wrote this blog to redefine success for myself … and hopefully help you too!
How would I like the story of my life to end? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a person who said, “At the end of my life, all I want is to be surrounded by all the super cool stuff I made or bought, and have the walls full of certificates, degrees, etc. from all my awards, prestige, and positions.” Like pretty much everyone else, as my time on earth comes to a close all I want is to be surrounded by people who have loved and cared for me well, and vice-versa.
Great authors and storytellers often begin crafting their tales with the end in mind. They start with the goal and work backwards from there. Writers craft stories to build toward and match their desired endings, and it seems to me a full and rich life is much the same. Since love and deep, mutual, and vulnerable relationships are what matters most in the end, let’s make it what matters most now!
Do you like and/or use to-do lists? I do! Here’s a radical notion: What if at the top of our daily to-do list was “Love and be loved”, and even if we did JUST that, we named our day a celebratory worthy success? Wouldn’t that be grand and amazing? We would naturally still do the “stuff”, but it’d be with less pressure and stress and more freedom and ease, because in the end love is what matters most.
The question then, is what is “love”? While love has TONS of flavors and meanings, generally when I say “love” I’m referring to divine love. The ancient Greeks and early Christians had a specific word for this, agape. Love, then, in my mind is giving oneself for thriving and flourishing. Agape is giving my time, energies, and materials to help people, animals, and the world have the most incredible life possible.
You may have noticed I did my best to write that in such a way that the recipients of your loving giving include YOU! I put it that way because not only am I convincedif we’re not ALL fully and freely alive, NONE of us are (so of course we need to love ourselves), but the magical mystery of giving ourselves away for the benefit of others is that in the act of selfless outpouring we receive Big Bliss. Kindness equals Happiness.
Next time I find myself lamenting all the “stuff” I didn’t get done that day and thinking it names my efforts a failure I’m going to remind myself of this blog and what truly makes a wonderful life. Here’s to redefining success by trading achievements for connection and selfless service!
Grace and peace,