What does it mean for you ?

Photo by Carolyn Ne on Unsplash

How many people know the saying , don’t just sit there, do something useful?

Or the mindfulness counterpart, don’t just do something, sit there?

We can have great intent for productivity, but not give ourselves restorative time, and we can under or over stimulate our minds in ways that lessen our sense of self knowledge and lessen our ability to concentrate by always being busy. We numb the world with busyness and avoid the deeper reflecting and self examination that leads to a healthy mind and life.

In other words we just need time to be, to indeed sit there and contemplate the world, our world, and our selves. We need to be mindful.

We have the madness of goal setting for every person in our western world, so that they can be successful, especially children in school. Yet most children are natural sponges for learning if you give them the right environment. But I remember feeling desperately under-stimulated in childhood at home and bored out of my mind at school. I was not allowed to follow things that interested me and forced to do things that made no sense at all. I hated laboratory science for instance, but loved gardening science — and still do. I would have thirsted for that knowledge if I had known it was there in the universe waiting for me to discover it.

So that was sixty years ago, and times have changed, but have they, and far enough? I was so please to speak to my five year old grandson the other day on the phone and he told me very quickly that he had enjoyed a very good day at school. He is also a sponge, and very intelligent, quick to point inconsistencies out in the adult world. We hope that bright spark does not get extinguished for him as it did for so long for me, and for his Dad to a lesser extent.

SO was I pleased he had done well at school? NO. I was pleased that he had enjoyed his day.

Define success and that is where this search for success in achievement starts to unravel a little.

For me, success means pushing yourself to grow a little more each day and whilst I agree that continuous growth is a positive outlook to have in life, pushing yourself to grow more quickly can easily lead to burnout and more serious consequences. If we just remain open to life and learning from experience, then we will grow anyway and at a natural pace for our own circumstances. Embracing the growth attitude yes but not pushing it.

For me success has meant I made it to 68 yrs old and am deeply happy in life. My early life was challenging and I often thought I would end up dead, so it is a source of astonishment that I am still here at this age, and those who I thought wanted me dead are themselves long gone.

I feel safe.

The money and possessions I have I wouldn’t worry about if I lost them tomorrow, the precious relationships I would mourn deeply. My name appearing repeatedly on google searches is great but it doesn’t make me more or less happy. Quotes from my books being used as inspirational wallpaper does not make me more happy. Seeing my books published all over the world when they were didn’t make me more happy or feel more successful. In many ways that all felt like more pressure. Being contented, being happy having nothing to prove, being at peace with the story of my life thus far, that is what I feel successful about.

Breathing in each breath, each day, living a life I love whilst working hard to do as little harm to others on the planet as I am able to, that is my sense of connection with life and thus my success.

If you really want to be successful in life, unravel your core values and find out who you really are away from all the accumulated voices from others and the delusions of the material world. That is deep success but you do not find it in the external world, only inside yourself. For me the dharma was the only tool that actually gave me a framework to do this successfully.