When it was recently suggested to me by someone I greatly admire that I share my thoughts on how I am redefining success in my own life, my initial reaction was: "Who, me?" I didn't have that reaction because I consider myself a failure. Rather, it was because my mind immediately defaulted into "comparison mode."
It would be an understatement to say that there is a huge chasm between my modest, ordinary life and the high-octane, extraordinary life of the person who made the suggestion. But just as quickly as my mind flashed on the obvious differences between the two of us, my heart wiped that smirk right off my face. Because I remembered that in the deepest, most tender place where our true spirits reside -- we are all the same. So yes, there was a dialog to be had here. And yes, it was perfectly logical that it should find its beginnings between two people who, on the surface, could not be more different.
Often in life, we can look at people without really seeing them; we can hear people, without really listening to them; or we can think we know people, without really understanding them. I believe the same is true with regard to our perceptions of what constitutes a successful life.
Success is not just about grand, sweeping gestures. It is about small, loving acts of kindness. It is not about how much money you have in the bank. It is about the immeasurable value of living a life rich in meaning and purpose. It is not about how many extravagant experiences or dazzling objects you accumulate, but those unforgettable, sacred moments that money cannot buy.
Until nearly six years ago, the greatest part of my time and attention was devoted to working in an unfulfilling job providing office support for bureaucrats to whom I could barely relate. I did all of this for a modest but predictable bi-monthly paycheck and other fringe benefits that enabled me to sustain my existence. This went on for nearly 11 years. Except for the length of time I committed to that particular job (believing I would work there through to retirement) it was but one in an ongoing series of similarly unfulfilling jobs throughout my adult life.
Caught up in the all too familiar routine of: wake-up, wash-up, dress-up, make-up and show-up, the only saving grace was that I still ventured to make that experience my own by giving it my best effort. The down side was that, at the end of the day, I was so mentally and emotionally exhausted, that I could no longer give the best of myself... to my own life.
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that when the universe decides it is time for you to move on, ready or not, off you go! So it was when I was suddenly and unceremoniously released from my long-time job. Yet, what followed bore little resemblance to anything I had experienced before.
After the initial shock wore off, I felt celebratory. Even after some time had passed and it became clear that my age and lack of advanced technological expertise were now nearly insurmountable stumbling blocks in securing another traditional job, I slowly made peace with that truth. But most importantly, when I finally let go of my long held definition of success and embraced my newfound understanding of what success truly is, the capable and worthy person I was and had always been slowly came back into focus. And with that revitalized understanding, the nagging uncertainties of how I would survive without a regular paycheck was replaced by a dawning awareness of how I might actually thrive once I consciously approached life with a clear mind and an open heart.
My transition from merely existing to truly living has not been a simple one. Especially early on, the judgmental echoes of my former ego-driven existence were particularly deafening, but I did what I had to do to get through one day... and then another... and yet another. Until finally, that cruel echo had been replaced with the sound of my authentic voice in the only time that really exists; this moment, right now.
I have learned that there are actually countless ways to redefine success in one's life. It is fulfilling the promise we carry within us, born of the love that we have brought into this world. It is respecting the value of communicating something of meaning in whatever form that communication takes. It is to gently warm other peoples' hearts with the light we are blessed to carry within our own. It is to be of service in a way that celebrates the best and highest good of our time on earth. It is to live authentically and mindfully in honor of those who have impacted our lives with loving devotion and made their transition before us. It is to live compassionately and courageously in honor of those who believe in us and ceaselessly inspire us. It is to reflect the gratitude we feel in every moment for the life and the gifts we have been given by a Divine Source.
So thank you, Arianna Huffington, for being the person who so graciously suggested I lend my voice to this discussion and for providing the platform upon which to do so. And thank you to each and every person who is reading my words for your willingness to share the limitless faith, dreams and wishes we all carry inside of us on our hope filled and success full journey forward.