As I was reviewing the posts from the week, I started to notice a theme related to success, and it reminded me of the above cartoon. I enjoy most of Andy Singer’s work, for both its style and message, and this message got me thinking about how I define the success of my life. Three key points come to mind, with some thoughts about how they relate to the image:
- I’m able to provide for my family. This doesn’t mean that we need to be rich. It means that we can meet our basic needs. Walking and biking are two perfectly acceptable means of transportation (though we do travel by car).
- I have a positive influence on the lives of others. I realize that this won’t always be the case, but in general, I want to help others reach their potential and live happy and productive lives. Minimizing my impact to the planet and setting a positive example are two ways that I can do this. Not yelling at others and being angry with them is another.
- I keep a positive approach to how I live my life and to recognize the gift of life. Taking the time to walk, smile, and enjoy the company of my family (human and non-human) is a key element in accomplishing this goal.
I’m not always successful in meeting all of these goals, especially the last two, but I give it my best each day. And on the days that I’m not successful, I try to learn and adapt so that tomorrow is better. Sure, I make mistakes and wish that I could take things back, but when I think it through, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.
Every significant mistake or action I’d like to take back has created an important learning opportunity. If I erase the event as if it never happened, I’ll lose the benefit of the lesson learned. No thanks. My mistakes enable my success, so I’d rather keep them with me.
I think that most people within American culture have goals similar to those I’ve outlined above, though I’ve definitely met many that have the materialistic definition of success implied in Singer’s cartoon.
How do you define success in your life? Is it different from, or aligned with, your culture’s definition of success?