Elusivity of Success: Self Redefinition

I have been sitting as a member of a weekly men’s circle for nearly five years. And in that time, I have witnessed many men weep, rage, express despair, and laugh together a whole lot! Recently, a fellow circle ‘brother’ shared his deep-felt feelings about success and failure as a person, man, father, and partner. I, too, have admittedly found myself often at dark moments wondering similar sentiments.

What does ‘success’ actually mean? Who gets to define it? Why do I chase it so readily? What if I stopped chasing? What if I redefined success for myself? What would that look like?

Serendipitously (or perhaps surreptitiously), I recently wrapped up Dan Siegel’s Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. The renown child psychiatrist ends his all encompassing tome on adolescent brain development with a poem by American writer and essayist, Bessie Anderson Stanley, titled Success.

To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent persons 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 exultations;
To know even one life breathed easier because you have lived--
This is to have succeeded.

Sounds like the most gratifying bucket list.

Ever.

JY

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