The Shadow of Success

Many of us here (including myself) have a desire to be successful.  And success can be different for each individual.  Success may be making a certain amount of  money.  Getting a certain promotion or job title.

Chasing after success is only a problem if it hurts.  And the chase hurts when we feel like we “need” to land the contract, make the sale, or make six figures in order to feel like we have enough or we are enough.

I’ve spent most of my 20’s chasing after goals and dreams.  There was always something to achieve for me.  First it was getting the best GPA possible so I could get into grad school.  Then it was getting a job and making a certain amount of money.  Then it was getting the f*&$ out of my job as a Research Chemist, so I could become a yoga teacher.  And once I became a yoga teacher, I then wanted to become the BEST yoga teacher.  And then I wanted to become a RICH yoga teacher.  And so on…  We can see this pattern in almost any area of our life.  Whether it be a relationship (getting in one or getting out of one!), having kids, getting that degree, and buying that new ____ (Apple Computer, house, car, sweater, necklace, yoga mat), we can really see how this concept of “not enough” expresses itself in our lives.

What it boils down to is feeling that this moment is good enough as it is and that you (and I) are good enough as we are. People say, “well, if I think everything is enough, and that I’m enough, then what would possibly motivate me to make any changes in my life?” Appreciating the moment and what is present (even if it’s not ideal or perfect), does not prevent us from going for our dreams and goals.  It actually gives us more freedom to go for our dreams, because 1) we’re not suffering as much 2) we are not dependent on making our dreams happen in order to feel happy.  

I know I’m a goal junkie, and I’ve got about 30 dreams I’m simultaneously visioning, I don’t want to sell myself short and stop going for 'em and I don’t think that’s what you should do either.  But here’s a radical question: Can we be happy while pursuing our dream?  If the answer is no, then you’ve gotta change something.

Being happy while pursuing your dreams (my best pointers):

-Focus on the how, rather than the what.  No matter what it is you are doing, whether it be cooking, cleaning, giving a presentation, etc, practice paying attention to HOW you are showing up, rather than WHAT you are showing up for.

-Recognize the power of choice.  Everything you do is a choice.  Working a job you hate to pay rent is a choice.  Reframe all actions as “I am choosing to do ____” instead of I have to do this.  

-What you focus on expands.  It’s not like we should ignore what’s wrong, or what’s not working, but give gratitude, compassion, hope, appreciation its fair share of attention too.

What not to do while pursuing your dreams:

-Feel like there is only one way for you to be happy

-Cause suffering to others to get what you want

-Focus on what’s wrong with your life and the world (acknowledge and observe, but don’t get lost in negativity)

-Let fear or lack be the driver of decisions.  Acknowledge fear as it comes up, consider it, but do not make your decisions based on fear.

-Generally, obtaining some ”thing” will not make you happier.  Getting a raise, even moving into a nicer house, or being with a different partner does not bring lasting happiness.  It can bring a rush of endorphins to the brain, which can feel like joy, but ultimately once the natural high wears out you will feel the same as you did before.

Just so you know, I’m not giving up on my dreams ;-)  I still want to run a donation-based yoga and meditation center and help tons of people feel happiness and freedom.  The decision I’ve made for myself is to be happy where I’m at AND keep going for my dreams to help bring more love into the world.

With love,