Everyone has his own personal definition of success. Culturally, we tend to consider success when we receive accolade and praise from external accomplishments, like fame and fortune. For the most part, our measures of success are external.
Some people measure their success based on an internal compass, attempting to meet their own personal best. However, often, even these seemingly internal measures are driven by attachments to external ideas of success.
I met someone recently who asked me, puzzled: “If I don’t want to be better, how will I ever become better?” Success for her was out there, and she was tired running after it. She felt there must be another way, but was unclear what it could be. She had lived a life driven by what she felt others wanted for her rather than fueled by her own personal joy.
Joy often seems elusive, something we will get to eventually, once we complete this task or that one, or once we have achieved this goal or that one. To me, living like this is being the proverbial donkey that chases the carrot held out on a stick in front of him. It is an impossible chase. In that situation, our impulse to move arises from what we think will make us happy ‘over there’ and from feelings of scarcity in this moment, rather than tapping into the reality of eternal abundance.
Abundance is a bit of a popular catchphrase that seems to, in itself, contain external measures of success. For many, it often relates to financial wealth, whereas for me, it expresses a life of possibility and energetic opulence that is available to all and is not conditional upon the external. When we live by abundance, we feel we have enough, no matter what the circumstances may be. The notion of ‘more’ is a possibility, an organic arising, rather than a reaching or a wanting. We don’t need more to be happy. We are open to more, should this be the expression of life and of our highest good. In a state of abundance, there is no push/pull struggle, but a dance with life, in this moment, as it is.
Joy has a lot to do with abundance. Perhaps it is why the phrase “follow your bliss and doors will open where before there were none” became so popular, thanks to the late professor Joseph Campbell. When we follow our joy, we feel an impulse to participate in life. We feel an impulse to share, because we feel connected to our inner wealth.
We can find temporal motivation through fear, feeling “if we don’t” do a certain thing, “then we won’t” get a certain reward (such as approval). Yet joy is also a tremendous motivator. But unlike fear, joy taps into a wealth of energy that far outshines the capacity of fear. By following our joy, our impulse to act comes from a deeper, more rooted and expansive place, and brings to our lives a vital force unlike any other.
As I travel across the continent to get to my next destination on the US tour of my show YIN: Yoga In the Nightclub and my yoga workshop YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, I am thinking a lot about joy, abundance, vitality and success. I realize that for myself, my sense of success comes from the courage to travel inward to places I could easily avoid. And in this case, traveling inward has led to me traveling outward.
To me, success is about the courage to say yes to life, to joy, to all of who I am, to all that this moment brings. I do this work because it is what my joy calls of me. It is an impulse that arises from the voice of my soul and connects me to an energy far greater than my limited sense of “me”.
As I evolve, there are aspects of my shadow that I must see in order to grow. I could choose to hide from and mask them by becoming distracted with passing pleasures. Yet it is my joy to go deeper, to go beyond the fear that says, “I can’t”. There I find the acronym for fear to be true: they are “False Expectations Appearing Real”. So I remind myself, “Be here. Be now. I have all I need. All is well. All is unfolding as it should.” This redirection of consciousness brings me to inner places that connect me to something so much greater than my ego, and my perception of the world shifts.
I don’t know what this tour will bring, but no matter what happens, I feel at some level I already have success because I am on the road to newness, I welcome possibility and I am open to the fullness of myself and of life.
May you touch your deepest expression of your version of success and may you live by it. May you follow your joy and share that light with the world.
Until next time, be well.