What does a Successful Life mean to you?
If you had asked me ten years ago what a successful life was, without hesitation I would have told you that it meant living in a multi-million pound mansion, driving that fancy car, endless holidays abroad, flying first class (or in a private jet!), shopping without having to look at price tags. Essentially I had always defined success in life by the ultimate material possessions
But then again, for as long as I can remember, I had always lived my life driven by goals. I was inherently the typical A-type personality who had to achieve, had to be the best, the string of As, the prizes, everything was driven by the end goal. So it was easy to see how a goal had to be a tangible achievement. In the end though, there came the time when goals achieved no longer felt amazing, instead they felt much like a come-down.
Goal setting became a chore, working towards a goal became meaningless, and then through some life changing events that I was forced to really contemplate what a successful life actually meant. Being forced to redefine what was really important to me in my life helped to define what mattered most. In the end I learnt that it wasn’t the riches or the possessions, it was…
Time spent with loved ones
Each day passes in the blink of an eye, and time spent with those you love define the best memories and experiences of your day to day living. The time spent baking with a 2-year-old who covers his hands and face with flour or watching a six-year-old make daisy chains in the park or the time taken to listen to the stories re-told by grandmother, who needs to relive her joyful moment, or the time in quiet contemplation simply being next to the person you love, no words, no sounds, simply spending time.
These experiences that we often take so for granted as time passes us by actually make up the best moments in our lives.
Money can certainly make life easier and possibly more comfortable, but true life’s riches are the ones money can’t buy. It’s the giggles shared for no reason, the joy in watching a baby smile, the wobbly steps of your toddler, the gentle hug of an elderly relative, the loving embrace of your partner.
All these riches in our lives that no amount of money can buy.
Being present in each moment
All to often we try to get more and more done in less time. We check email and update statuses while cooking dinner, we half-listen to our children as we watch our favourite TV show, we think about our children when we’re at work and think about work when we’re at home.
The truth is before each moment passes by and we lose sight of what we’re really meant to be doing, be present in every moment.
Being grateful for all experiences
There is much in life for which we can shake our fist at the world for. The lack of income, lack of sleep, lack of peace and yet if we pause for a moment to accept that sometimes things happen for reasons that we have yet to understand, we may eventually learn to be grateful for all experiences, even the ones which make us cry.
Take time to reflect and try (for it is sometimes really hard) to be grateful for all experiences that come our way.
These days a successful life has a slightly different meaning for me, and I know that I am happier for it. What about you?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
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Above all, take care and be happy.