Mindfulness & the All-Time Best Definition of Success

“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 a traumatic life experience has redefined success for you? Do you struggle with balancing “busyness” with mindfulness? 

Survival > Existence,


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