What is Success?

Sometimes Mondays are my toughest days.  It’s the start of the week and it’s the time that I decide to do my most self critiquing and I can be downright harsh.  I berate myself based on any number of superficial measures – station in life, salary, relationships, weight, time spent in gym…the list goes on and on.  And then, just as I am about say another un-kind and self-deflating thing I arrive at my desk and I see the following sign:

“What is success?  To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit 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; that is to have succeeded.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this definition of success.  There is no mention of money or job title, station in life or luxury car – Emerson’s definition of success is all about the impact that one human being can have on another human being’s life through friendship, affection, and personal character.

For many of us, determining what our own definition of success is and staying true to that definition is a constant battle.  It is a battle between the truth that we pursue and the truth that society qualifies as the ultimate truth.  It is so very easy to get confused by what success is or isn’t.  It is so very easy to measure yourself against the common denominator of success.

This is a reminder to follow your own version of success – whatever that may be – to stay true to yourself, and to not get caught up in the hype of what you should have or where you should be, but rather to be grateful for the here and now.

What is success?  Sunlight dancing on the water – it’s absolutely breathtaking.



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