How do you define success? What makes your life successful? If you’re willing, make a mental list right now. What is on the list? Things that you have bought- a new tv, a car, a new piece of clothing? How much money you have? What you have accomplished- a job, moving up the “ladder,” schooling, having kids? What relationships you are in- with an intimate partner(s), friends, family, children? What activities you do or have tried- team sports, any sport or exercise, running (a marathon), daily walks with the dog, sky diving, hiking, mountain or rock climbing, parenting, cleaning, organizing? What places you have traveled- nearby or far, specific countries, specific places- a national park, the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge? What you do for your creativity and passion- how you feed your soul- song, dance, music, painting, making cards or scrape-booking, people watching, going to the ocean or other place, meditating, something spiritual? Current or past internal experiences- giving and receiving love, abundance, appreciation, openness, connection, inviting feedback? Memories of past experiences? Are there more things versus experiences?
I want to expand on that. When I think of things, I think external. I think of the “American Dream-“ white picket fence, house, big car. Or the saying, “The one with the most toys wins.” These things are impermanent; they can be lost. If your success is out there what happens if that thing goes away for whatever reason? The house can burn down. The partner can leave. The toys can break. I am not saying not to have things on your list, I am wanting us all to expand to more than things.
When I think experiences, I think internal. An experience of feeling loved and loving. An experience of spaciousness and openness. Or an experience of having accomplished a school degree, a sled ride, or jumping in the ocean.
I ask then, can that be taken away? I think not, I can give it away or even share it. For example, I could have a memory that I share. I can revisit a memory of going to the Oregon coast and wearing a down coat because I was so cold. The other person may enjoy it like I do or maybe they scoff at it judging the Oregon coast to be too cold. I still have that memory and can do as I please with it. A memory is yours to keep and remember at will.
Or I can do something to not feel loved or loving. My favorites of disconnecting to my internal experiences are comparing (look at what they have that I don’t or look how much better off I am than you), looking at what is or is not perfect (if only x happened I/it would be perfect), judging (stating others are stupid, selfish, bad drivers), or being critical (did you see what they did/wore/said). But someone or something cannot actually take my experience from me.
And some of the above fall into both categories. For example I may create some art work- I have the experience and the final product. Even if something happens to the final product, I still have the experience. Or a relationship. I can have a wonderful, loving partner who is a something in my life and I have the experience of both giving and receiving love and the experience I have when with her.
Disclosure- I don’t think there is a right and wrong of this. It is your experience.
I am also wondering about happiness now. Is you happiness based on something in particular? More on that later.