Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where Are You Now?

It's my birthday and all sorts of thoughts are going through my mind. Other birthdays, parties in my childhood. What was my favorite present of all time? Am I living the life I wanted? Are my parents still proud of me? Am I proud of me?

Getting another year older often makes people think about where they are in life. Have they done all they could do to feel successful? Have they failed to reach their aspirations and dreams? For older individuals there is the natural concern of time running out to still make “it” happen.

Rating your success or failure at any time by comparing it to others’ makes it a competition, and gets you nowhere near the truth of where you are now, nor does it give you the reliable feeling of satisfaction that you are looking for.

The fact is, there will always be more and less successful people than you. The idea that you have done better than some one else may give you the temporary rush of being a “winner,” but that feeling does not have the longevity you hoped for, and eventually you will have to go out and look for your next opponent. And on it goes.

Feeling a failure because of some one else's success is an unnecessary painful road to go down. What does someone else's achievement have to do with your worth? Hard work and talent do not always make the limelight. Luck, and being in the right time and place, play their role.

Success, when measured by status or prosperity alone, will not give you the constancy of happiness you hoped it would, because it can be taken away in a flash by events impossible to predict. Turn on the news on any given day, and there he is, the famous actor or entrepreneur of yesterday standing in the soup line today. How is he to think of himself now?

Where are you now is a question that’s about you, and only you. Success as we usually think of it, is irrelevant here.  Do I like who I am at this point in my life is what I am pondering on my birthday. Am I growing in the ways that make me feel whole and into someone I can rely on when the waters get choppy? Looking over my past and the painful bumps of my own making, I wonder what I have learned from them. Have I incorporated it into who I am now? Has my empathy grown for others who are hurting over past mistakes? Have I grown in value in my own eyes? Do I have the generosity of spirit I so admire in others? And finally, have I shed enough fear to say 'yes' more often, and say 'no' in the same spirit, when enough is enough?

We are works in progress, you and I, two steps forward and one step back. Whether you are aware of them or not, deliberately participating or not. Changes are occurring within you, based on the choices you make, the opinions you hold dear, the insights you gain from reflection, and the ideas you accept as worthy of believing.

Look at the past with compassion, and see how much you have grown. Each step toward the self you want to be is a success, and it will bring more and more inner harmony that is untouchable by circumstance or time.

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