If you were to have asked me several years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you that I wanted to be rich and successful. In reality, I had no idea what that actually meant. All I knew was that my future was going to be full of nice things, a smoking hot wife and jealous friends.
It’s amazing to me how shallow I was back then. Not because I was a shallow person, but because I didn’t know any better. As a child, I believed that in order to be a “man” I had to be the best at everything. Back then I thought success was a zero-sum game. I had to win and everyone else had to lose. Period.
With the luxury of hindsight, this credo of competition is what I believe contributed to my life-long struggle with insecurity. When you think about it, how couldn’t it right?
I either win, or I’m unlovable. Not exactly the pearls of wisdom you’d expect growing up…
The Problem with the “Win at All Costs” Mindset. If life is a competition, then the majority of our time is spent comparing ourselves to others and this insatiable appetite to”one-up” our neighbors is what leads us to grow up frightened, insecure and self-loathing.
When we live life like this we create suffering because our existence seems shallow and inconsequential. In truth we’re only scratching the surface of who we really are, and since we’re unsure of ourselves, we create our own pain. With this superficial self running the show it’s no wonder we are easily shaken and can be dismantled by a slight breeze.
Simply put, when we compare we despair and any instances of feeling “less than” someone will inevitably lead us to distress.
Think about this: if our self-esteem is predicated on others by means of comparison, then do we really ever have control of our happiness?
If we don’t take time to think about what we really want we are effectively wandering through life aimlessly, like a ship lost at sea. We don’t know how to be successful because we’ve never really sat down and defined what success looks like. We become a ship with no map and no compass, waiting for the waves of life to determine our destinies.
Meditation can Help! Before I found mindfulness and meditation, my life was an endless pursuit of achievements and accolades.
Mindfulness made me listen for the first time! It helped me hear something that I always felt, but never knew.
As a kid, I can remember being compassionate and wanting to help other people. Growing up, I wanted to be considerate of others but I was told by my peers, and perhaps even by my parents, that caring for others was not the path to ultimate success.
Success was about winning, period.
So I quickly adopted this point of view and began presenting myself to the world in this way. In order to be “cool” I stopped caring about others. I saw people as a means to an end and that made them somehow less important than me.
My entire childhood and adolescence was filled with fear and resentment. Fear of being seen for what I really was—an insecure kid— and resentment for living a life that was untrue to myself.
It wasn’t until I started meditating and journaling that I realized that these shallow beacons of success were completely wrong. At least they were for me.
I always felt like I had a kind heart and after practicing meditation I was ready to start living compassionately. My mindfulness practice would no longer allow me to live life as a character portraying “success.”
After months of meditating, I could no longer deny that I was out of alignment because I had finally seen what was causing the unease in my life… inauthenticity.
Using Meditation to Help Determine Your Purpose: As you meditate, ask yourself “What does success look like to me?” Then wait! Don’t try to answer the question. Instead, just listen to what your mind and your heart are telling you.
Chances are you will start to notice some common themes or ideas that consistently come up for you when you sit with yourself.
Think about what you liked to do as a child. Do you have a fond childhood memory? What were you doing? Why were you so happy?
As you let that memory wash over you as you meditate bring your attention to any patterns you see and ask yourself “Why are they there?”
After the meditation is over write about it in a journal or on your phone!
Try to cement the ideas that keep coming up for you.. Discuss it with your loved ones. Tell them how you see success and ask them how they see it as well.
Then, all you have to do is step into the person you need to be in order to achieve the success that YOU want in life.
For me, the idea of helping others is what consistently comes up when I think about success. As a kid, I loved team sports because I loved helping others be their best and achieving success together. With this definition of success I no longer believe that “things” are nearly as important as people. When I’m old and grey I want to look back on my life and know that I helped others be a better version of themselves.
Mindfulness has shown me that everyone can win on the pursuit of success–not just me.
Thank you as always for reading! We appreciate your commitment to better yourself and would love to know how you define success in your life. What is important to you? How do you know? Leave a quick comment below and we hope to see you again on Sunday for our next post.
Until then, many many blessings