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What does it truly mean to be a success as a human being? What does it mean to live life successfully?

I have a hunch we might answer that question a little differently during the holidays. For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success as follows:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.”

Emerson is suggesting that we may need a different way to think about what it means to be a success:

We need a way to think about success that includes every day of our lives, even the ordinary days—especially the ordinary days—all the way to our last day.

We need a way to think about success that includes (and makes use of) failures, setbacks and tragedy, since these are an inevitable part of life.

We need a way think about success that deepens and enriches our humanity, that helps us grow as persons and fulfill our own uniqueness.

We need a way to think about success that makes us excited to get out of bed each morning and helps us pursue what matters each day.

We need a way to think about success that helps us laugh more and deeper–a way that enhances all our important relationships and helps us be fun to be with.

We need a way to think about success that helps us find something to live for that is larger than ourselves, larger than any circumstance, and even larger than death.

Or as Krakatoa the parrot said to Hodgepodge the hippo (in my children’s novel, The Tale of Hodgepodge):

“There are many who frantically chase success, but success is not a chase and it’s not frantic. Success is a spark in your eye, a spring in your step, and a song in your heart.”