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What is a Successful LIfe?

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Each lifetime is precious, full of opportunity and ours to make of it as we choose or feel able to. But what constitutes a successful life? How do we define success? Nobody can do it for us and even we don’t know what criteria to use to make this assessment. When answering this question we tend to adopt meaningless human yardsticks.

Does success mean being materialistically successful and having mastered abundance through wealth creation? Do we have to have made new laws or changed the world through invention? I don’t believe it’s achievement-based in that way despite the cultural conditioning of the western world and its incessant media message that now bombards us from more avenues than ever before. That message is clear; accumulate and consume continuously; what you have and what you are is not enough or even acceptable; money is your god etc, etc.

Is a successful life one full of happiness where we felt love or loved others? Now perhaps we’re getting somewhere or are we? Maybe it’s determined by whether or not we had a philanthropic attitude where we gave to the world and those in need at the expense of ourselves. But what about a life filled with adversity where we showed the enduring nature of our spirit and found a way to simply get by? There are an infinite number of other ways of living a life. Are they all unsuccessful because we didn’t attain the level that books, webinars, workshops, You-Tube videos or even this web site tells us we can?

Perhaps happiness is an indication of a successful life in terms of our soul’s evolution? But happiness doesn’t necessarily take into account the scale of the challenges we set ourselves for this life. We may have had a relatively easy shallow life and are happy or a very, very difficult one and still found a way to be content. Is doing well at something easy more valuable than partial success at something hard? It begins to become complicated doesn’t it? I would say that even if we may be struggling physically, emotionally or spiritually under the sheer weight of life that doesn’t mean we aren’t succeeding. There is no failure, only feedback.

Shouldn’t it be based on the goals we set ourselves before we came here? Since most of us won’t know what these goals were it is impossible to make any kind of valued judgement about our life until we have all the information and a perspective that takes into account what lives we have lived before and where we are in our soul development. We are not assessed for our ability to solve quadratic equations or our skill at playing a piano concerto at 5 years old. This level of examination happens when the time is right. So it is in life, where the appropriate lessons are placed before us based on what we came here to do and our stage of development. Just because we haven’t found profound peace or enlightenment it doesn’t that our spiritual development hasn’t advanced greatly in this or any other lifetime in the same way that the 5 year-old didn’t fail because he couldn’t solve ax² + bx + c = 0.

Even in this post-2012 age of ever-accelerating spiritual growth, I do believe that we are still given what we are ready for and able to handle. I know that it sometimes doesn’t seem like it and it can seem impossible to believe that we can cope with what we are given. As the proverb says “God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb”. Nonetheless, I believe we bring the challenges we have earned from previous lives. We may continue to learn lessons in one specific area but at a deeper level; or we may have graduated to the stage where we can work with a bigger concept; while sometimes we have a do-over and repeat lessons.

Some lessons or areas of our development may take many lifetimes to work through. For example, I cannot see how one lifetime is anywhere near enough to master forgiveness at its deepest levels. We may think we’ve cracked it only to find ourselves buckling under the weight of an unforeseen and even deeper challenge that is presented to us. So, even judging this lifetime may be as bigger folly as thinking we have won a football match simply because we dominated play in the first 20 minutes of the game.

So what is a successful life? My feeling is that the question is redundant simply because there is no meaningful context in which we can make an accurate assessment. Perhaps it is best answered by ourselves when we have gone back home and can see what we came here to achieve and put what happened into its correct perspective, free of our mind and ego. Sometimes letting go of the need for an answer frees us to see that there was no question to ask.

Often our desire to gauge success is based on a human need to judge and compare ourselves to others, but the truth is this:

All is well.

 

© Phil Grant unless otherwise attributed