Recently I attended my friend’s monthly discussion evening where – after making our way through a myriad of topics over the course of a year – we landed on the topic of “success”.
The discussion centered around how we’ve each come to understand success; how we perceive the concept, what things may be deemed “successful” to each of us, and how something becomes successful (i.e. what’s people/emotions are involved in the process).
The diversity of the group meant that so many individual experiences and structures to day-to-day life came into play. We had congregated from different countries, spoke different languages and were of different ages and working/studying in different industries. Some questions that came up included:
- What’s successful to me?
- Is success spiritual, or a tangible goal?
- How do we recognise success? And therefore, how do we recognise ourselves and others in terms of achievement?
- Does success mean meeting expectations, or looking back on a period of time and concluding “that period was successful”?
- Do we do everything with the aim to succeed? Or can we succeed at everything we do?
- Is success a collective feat? Or purely individual?
- Is it about the journey or the destination?
To me, success is about receiving or experiencing something of great personal value, be it spiritual or tangible.
Neuroscience has said that humans get the most pleasure from living a life where we’re constantly “seeking” – i.e continually developing ourselves and progressing. It’s not the material items we may have or the fancy job title, it’s the act of working towards personal goals that give us the most happiness. Success, therefore, can be understood as something spiritual; a long-term, continual progression of ourselves.
“The strongest factor for success is self-esteem: believing you can do it, believing you deserve it, believing you will get it.”
It’s in this way that recovery can be seen as a long-term journey of success. No matter what stage you are at in recovery, success can be found in the really small things that you’ve slowly triumphed over. It can also be found after you’ve recovered; for instance, meditation still brings me genuine peace and I definitely consider it a success when I see the benefits of a week of daily meditation.
Success in recovery can include:
- Contacting the clinic to organize an assessment – making that first step is the best thing you can do for yourself
- Getting out of bed to attend clinic when the eating disorder voice is doing all it can to dissuade you
- Recognising yourself as worthy of recovery
- Being able to see a future for yourself that’s free of eating disordered behaviour
Recovery is a journey of of continual learning and progression, and just the act of investing time in that journey will bring you happiness – and that to me is successful.
There doesn’t need to be a big milestone conquered for something to be considered successful. “Success” is a result of finding a balance between continual growth and getting our needs met. In this way, we are always interested and curious in the world, but reassured that we are being spiritually nurtured along the way.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”