Success — What does it mean to you?

By Elizabeth Lyne

The simple things in life are also the extraordinary things, but only the wise can see them.

No matter where you go or who you speak too, everyone has their own way of defining what it means to be successful.

It’s incredible sometimes to look back and reflect on how much we have grown over the years. It’s also beautiful too. All the intrinsic characteristics that make us who we are, growing and ever changing, all bound together by elements of experience and time.

In those quiet but imperative moments of forensic self-reflection, I often look within and ask myself if I have achieved the goals I once laid out, but more often than not, our ideas of achievement and success alter somewhat over the years, as does what we deem to be important, leaving us with an entirely different idea altogether of what an accomplishment is.

When I cast my mind back to my early twenties, I used to define success by imagining the size of my home in the future or the size of my bank balance or even perhaps what level of promotion I would reach career wise. The media sells this plastic ideology of materialism equaling success to society, tenfold, and we don’t hesitate to lap it up, further perpetuating the cycle of idolising material gain and the idea that we need plastic commodities to be fulfilled, which begs the question;

Have we lost appreciation for the simple things?

I think at one time, I was guilty of this, but a combination of life changing lessons stopped me boldly in my tracks and I started to see the light. Between growing older, getting my heartbroken (about 50 times — I hope you douchebags are reading this) and getting involved in volunteering with refugees, an unconscious shift started to take place within my psyche.

A beautiful family I connected with in Athens.

I’m still not sure whether I’m proud or confused to say that in the present day none of the material things I previously listed are any longer of interest to me. They bear no significance to my goals. They simply don’t matter. They can be the icing on the cake for sure, the cherry on top, but they do not contribute to the basic ingredients that the foundation of my happiness and success are built on.

There is no career in the land that could fulfill me the way touching another’s life in a positive way does. The way people in need smile when they know you’re there to help and realise someone actually cares for them when they thought all hope was lost. The way it feels to speak up for those who have been stripped of their voice and their human rights. Or maybe even the way I get to snuggle up to my mum on a Sunday after dinner knowing so many others have lost their families. It truly is the little things. The things we forget to be grateful for.

If the work I carry out is not lighting the path for someone else or inspiring hope and change, then of what value or satisfaction is it to me? Instead of calculating how many properties I own or how many pounds make up my bank balance, I want to count the beautiful people I share a home with and the memories I make with them, admire all the ways they light up my life. I want to know how many souls I’ve touched and given a beacon of hope too.

That’s not all. I want to carve my initials in the universe with love and kindness so the world knows I tried to make it better, knows I tried to make a difference with the time I had.

I would willingly exchange technology, TV, possessions or unnecessary amounts of money to have this. I’ve no desire for anything that doesn’t enrich my soul, capture my heart or change the life of another human for the better.

Our perception of what is valuable or important seems to have become lost. The simplistic approach to life and an avid appreciation of the universe and all it holds within is available to all of us if we would just seek and acknowledge it.

Have you ever noticed the people who have the least seem to be the happiest?

Nature. People. Good company. The sunrise. The Moon. Books. Music. The peace and serenity of the waves crashing on a deserted beach. The calming sound of flickering flames around a bonfire, lighting up the night like a thousand stars, but most of all, LOVE. That magical four letter word. With love, you can never be poor or unsuccessful. Only ever enriched.

The most simple things can bring the most happiness

These are the hidden treasures of life and people are the rare relics. Treat them well. Do what you can for others, it is the rent we pay for living on this beautiful earth and possessing this vision to appreciate this and envelop myself in these things deems my time on this planet a success, by my own logic. I see what so many others never could in a whole lifetime.

So, I have reached the conclusion, I am successful and satisfied beyond means I once ever imagined or hoped for and remarkably, I didn’t gain this peace of mind by getting the CEO position or acquiring a wealth of fortune.

I’ve always been rich; I just didn’t know it. Rich in the heart and soul, for it’s what lies within you that holds the highest value.

I have learnt that the legend I leave behind, the lives I touch and the hearts I make beat again whilst I’m alive will be my legacy and a testament to how successful my time on this planet was. I want to know if I helped heal another’s weary heart, if I was selfless, if I changed the world just by caring and this, my good friends, will be the measure of my achievements.

So, I ask again, what is success to you?

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