What do I believe will make me a successful person?
When making the choice between what is easy, and what is right, choosing what is right. Knowing that I have offered all that I can, believing that I have given my all in tough situations, and learning what I can from varied situations will help make me a successful person. I try not to take anything for granted, for I am well aware that anything can change at the drop of a hat. Cancer, a recession, death, pregnancy - there are lots of things out there that shape us, and it is how we handle those situations that can define success.
Happiness for me is like love - difficult to define, but you know it when you see it/feel it. Happiness is loving others, feeling loved, finding appreciation in all things. Happiness is listening to my children laugh. Happiness is holding a friend's hand when they are struggling, connection. Happiness is being present. Happiness is being changed by difficult events, and having the ability to reflect on life. Happiness is having space for others in need. Happiness is having 200 tentacles on each arm, each with the ability to taste and sense the world, 4 hearts, and DNA we can't fully understand. Happiness is never ceasing to learn and be amazed. Like the octopus, for me happiness comes in many shapes and sizes, can be obvious or disguised, and can change and adapt as needed per the environment, situation, and present stressors. It may be right in front of you but not visible, unless you chose to look carefully.
What is the role that suffering plays in life? I have been changed by suffering, and consider it a critical part of life, one that provides potential opportunity for permanent life change. This can been destructive or transformative. We may find out deeper meaning and strength when we suffer, are pushed beyond what we believed we could endure. Our ability to work through suffering, pain, loss and our attitudes about these things shape who we become. Our ability to apply empathy for the suffering of others is for me the key to true transformation.
Here is a short video about BJ Miller, whose life was transformed by suffering, and who now transforms others' lives through medicine, palliative and hospice care.
What does it mean to say that life is meaningful, how is this achieved, and is there something more to life than success, material riches, achieving your dreams, and what that 'something' may be?
For me, life has meaning in our human connections. Tenderness, humility, love, compassion, peace, joy, pain, shared experiences, helping anyone who needs help without judgement or condition. That 'something' that gives life meaning can be as monumental as rebuilding a community or providing life-saving healthcare, or as minuscule as holding someone's hand as they cross a street. I find meaning in many things, and have forever been changed by a million small things. To me, there is so much more than 'success', 'riches' or 'achieving my dream'....I feel these things when I have been touched by another's soul, or have been able to share mine. We can see best when we can see from other's perspective.
"When people remember the past, they don't only talk about happiness. It is often the ordeals that seem most significant. People shoot for happiness but feel formed through suffering"
Brooks, D. (2014, April 7). What Suffering Does. New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/opinion/brooks-what-suffering-does.html