What constitutes a successful life? Society, parents, peers, and perhaps even our own minds frequently use the term 'success' synonymously with financial wealth, living in upscale neighborhoods, driving expensive cars, and holding certain jobs. I believe this idea hinders us in the path of true success.
This brings us to the question, then what is success? When we are stuck in the thinking mind, it is helpful to first still this inner chatter and preconceived ideas through yoga, meditation, or even a walk in the woods. So to determine what success meant to me personally, I took a long savasana (deep relaxation) after a hatha yoga practice and cleared my mind. Then I pulled out a journal and just wrote whatever came to me regarding the subject of success. This technique is a great way to let your inspiration and insight come through on any topic.
The result of this free-form idea gathering combined with some word changes brought out the following in acronym:
S - Silence
U - Unite
C - Creativity
C - Character
E - Excel
S - Solutions
S - Surrender
Silence: Take time to be in stillness and silence. This is were our inspiration and insights bubble up.
Unite: Unite your intentions and actions. First you must know what your intentions both globally, locally, long-term, and short-term are. Coming to a place of silence helps to set these intentions without ego getting in the way. Then observe your actions; do they align with your intentions?
Creativity: Don't be a cookie-cutout; be your own person with your own unique contributions to the world. Honor what works for you and remember that we each have an individual purpose or dharma. Be true to yourself and allow others to be true for themselves. (Yes, moms -- including myself -- this is really important for us to remember!)
Character: Act and live with character. Thomas Lickona has written a wonderful book -- if you can get past the preaching and strictness of it -- called Character Matters. Do you live, speak, think, and act with integrity, honesty, respect, honor, and gratitude? These words mean different things to different people. What do they mean to you? Do you find that you treat others with respect or honor, but not yourself?
Excel: Do your best. I hesitate to use the word "best" as you could do your "best" at work by never coming home. You could run a race and pass out from attempting to reach higher performance continuously. Sounds exhausting, right? Instead view "best" with the wise advice of the Chinese, "Do everything 70% of your maximum. Run 70% of your fastest. Eat 70% of what you can." The guideline isn't 30% or even 50%. So put forth effort without killing yourself or stressing out beyond your limits.
Solutions: Focus on solutions, not problems. It's wise to bring awareness to potential obstacles or challenges. But to stop there is where we may fail. To succeed, we must look at these issues and brainstorm for solutions. Free-form all ideas with wild abandon; you can always go back and remove ideas that you know won't work. But when we brainstorm in a a free format (no judgement) some pearls of insight just might surface.
Surrender: The Bhagavad Gita councils us to do our dharma (purpose) and then let the outcome go. When we act with integrity, awareness, and wisdom, that is enough. That is success. The result of our actions are none of our business. I've heard it said, "There's your business, other people's business, and God's business." The outcome of your actions pure of heart are God's business, not ours.
"Success is not so much what we have as it is what we are." ~ Jim Rohn
"Truth, self control, asceticism, generosity, non-injury, constancy in virtue — these are the means of success, not caste or family." ~ Mahabharata
Today is the first day of the rest of your life!