Updated: May 24, 2020
I spent a good portion of my life defining success as professional success. If I made a lot of money, or excelled in a company to a certain level, then I've "made it," and will be validated by the world's most important people.
I will become popular.
I will matter.
And that will feel really good, and ensure a happy life.
I'll also be able to buy all the things I want.
All these things will give me great comfort.
Help me look good, and feel good.
And I will be able to be "rich." Everyone knows that being rich is where it's at.
I talk about this thinking a lot in my TED talk.
These days, the ride of life itself is much more interesting to me.
Optimizing for a good time.
There's other categories that, when I feel fulfilled and adept at them, are much more likely to bring me lasting happiness and fulfillment than lots of money and fame.
I think happiness and fulfillment are where it's at.
Yes, that seems to be the right aim.
So if seeking happiness and fulfillment in life is where I want to be, then success for me is highly likely when I focus on these categories:
Being in community
Integrity in my word and work
Let's break them down and get a sense for what I mean.
Relationships with kind intimacy. The intimacy of being able to tell secrets to each other, find comfortable physical touch, and feel easy and free. Friendships and romantic relationships that are avenues in which you blossom. Who is the friend who is always kind to you? Who can you show your rash to and ask what they think it is? Who will jump on a zoom call with you at 9 at night when you're upset and need to talk? Who is up for anything?
Cultivating these connections is a choice and an art. It's a beautiful option. During corona I noticed my opportunity to opt-in even further with people. To be brave enough to ask them for a phone call. To say yes to personal invitations and trust the flow.
I also notice that when I travel for long periods of time, it's my close connections that keep me balanced. I still call my mom from the streets of Bali to talk. This is SO important to me.
Having a life team makes my life better. Without it, I dry up.
Being in community:
When I can sense the support around me, I feel safe and secure. Connection to community has become my new bank account. I consider my network and relationships to be my resource center. In the way of sharing; offering and receiving help; caring.
I find community to be a boundless place of abundance. When we all share what we have with each other it's so clear that we have all the resources we need already. I rarely buy new clothes anymore, or new electronics. Chances are my community has a LARGE abundance of used items that are exactly what I need. I have given multiple people furniture. I have given away my bike. I have been given a used car, a router, and a dog crate, to name a few (major) things. Think about it... how many extra headphone sets are at your house? Who can be borrowing your luggage when you're not using it instead of spending $600 on their own set? How many things are collecting dust in the garage that can be shared?
Get connected to your community; neighbors, city meetups, workout groups, etc. Experience how rich you really are from this.
If my thoughts are not aligned, neither are my actions, and neither is my experience of life. I treat my mental health like a room in my house that I keep clean and organized. When I notice that I'm stuck on a thought, I give it attention. I untie the knot in my brain so I can operate smoothly. I notice when I'm sad and listen to my sadness. I notice when I'm upset with someone and wonder how I can take responsibility for my own actions and experience.
I work out my mental care muscle every, single, day. Like sweeping the floor in my room, or making my bed. When my mind is clean and clear I experience SO much more flow throughout my day, and my relationships improve. I make taking care of my mind a priority.
Feeling awesome in your body feels AWESOME! This lovely shell we're in carries us around all day, every day. Physical well-being adds energetic momentum to life. The major categories for me are: 1) Exercise - feeling strong, building muscle in my core spinal profile and inner-abdominal muscles, being able to go for a run for 10-15 minutes anytime. 2) Hydrating - I notice I can drink a lot of coffee. I notice drinking LOTS of water feels much better. It's like a fresh flowing river inside of me, when I'm drinking enough H2O. 3) Stretching and foam rolling - keeping muscles and ligaments loose and cared for so they can perform well. 4) Food - I eat lots of vegetables, and practice not eating when I'm not hungry. Physical well-being adds to my happiness.
This one is a toss up in favorites. I love to have fun!! And I firmly believe that life is about having as much of it as possible. To live in the thrill and beauty of what's possible. To experience easy joy and graceful moments. When there are long stretches in my life that I notice I'm not having fun, I pause to re-evaluate it. When I make major decisions, how fun it will be is a deciding factor.
This one is so important. Your life gets to feel good, and you get to design it as so.
Integrity in my word and work:
Thoughts on this category to come.
How do you define success for yourself?
What would you add to this list?
What would you take away?