Mindful Monday – What is Success to You?

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To give of one’s self; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – This is to have succeeded.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I read this quote and it stopped me short because I couldn’t possibly come up with a better definition of success. As I read it again, it struck me that none of it is possible without mindfulness.

Without a conscious awareness of what you are feeling or experiencing in the present moment how can you really laugh? Without mindfulness, how can you see all the beauty around you? How can you appreciate the best in others or know how best to give back for all you have been given? Without mindfulness, how can you enjoy your relationships and raise happy and healthy children?

Yesterday morning I awoke with nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do. The week before, including Saturday, had been incredibly busy. As I enjoyed being exactly where I was with no pressing thoughts it struck me that I rarely felt calm during the week. The reason – because I resist mindfulness in favor of “busyness.”

We are all incredibly busy. But, Emerson’s quote reminds me that “busyness” alone will never bring us the success of which he speaks. In fact, I’m starting to understand that a life based solely on “busyness” risks the opposite of success.

What is your definition of success? Have you found that your cancer experience has redefined success for you? Do you struggle with balancing “busyness” with mindfulness?  

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Survival > Existence,




Marie Ennis-O'Connor's picture

Beautiful quote – beautiful way to live your life

He is one of my favorite writers Debbie and I am struck by the poetic simplicity of the last line here “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – This is to have succeeded.”


Debbie's picture

It’s A Manifesto!


I read the quote and instantly thought “manifesto!” I aspire to live my life in such a beautiful, mindful way.

Survival > Existence,



Barbara Bair's picture


My concept of success has changed radically since cancer. When I was young, I thought success meant getting A’s, receiving honors and awards, being accepted at my first choice college, finding a husband, getting a teaching job, house, having a bank account, receiving the approval of the administrators and praise from parents, etc.
Now that I have retired from teaching,I feel successful volunteering, making others happy, performing acts of kindness, finding worthwhile activities.I am so pleased when the students whom I tutor for the SAT and ACT do well and when former students tell me that I made a real difference in their lives. Also, I feel successful when my relationships with others are positive.I love when my children and grandchilren want to spend time with me and when I receive praise and admiration from my husband. I feel successful when a friend asked me to help decorate her house and when another friend asked me to help edit a book she is writing. Meditation, a new activity for me after cancer, has made me more mindful. I hope I never get too busy to remember all the blessings in my life.


Debbie's picture

You Rock, Barbara!


Your life after cancer is a wonderful example of how to create a successful new normal. You so inspire me with how you have transitioned from a job you loved, to a life after cancer you love. Thanks so much for your comment and reminding me again how important mindfulness is to finding true success after cancer. You rock!

Survival > Existence,



Jeetu Porwal's picture

Different strokes for different folks

What I want to say is that success can have different meaning for different personalities. But the most important  factor is enthusiasm. Even your target must be higher than what you want to achieve and enthusiasm to achieve that target. I saw so many people who even forget their true friends even after facing the worst phase of life where their friends helped them. So the only thing that matters is what your heart truly wants from the life. I read one of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes on success – Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Of course, your enthusiams needs to be in the right direction – something that helps the whole society and hurst no one is generally the right direction imo.

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