We all have a basic, if a somewhat vague almost intuitive knowingness that in order to be successful in life, whether in relationships, personal achievements or business, we need to be willing to grow and expand.
Sure, personal development is about growth and expansion, but is that all it takes to be successful…a personal development practice or is there another key?
The Key to Success
This may seem silly to some, and obvious to others, but the key to success is happiness.
For most of us our goals in life are made up of the things we believe that will make us happy.
What if that’s wrong? What if it’s just a myth?
The truth is, there is a happiness myth. I like to call it, “I’ll be happy when…”
- …I make more money
- …I have a loving relationship
- …my business is successful
- …I have a new car
- …you fill in the blank
It’s easy to see how the myth goes; it’s the belief that, “once I get what I want then I’ll be happy.” It’s a powerful and pervasive myth; one most of us have been carrying inside of our heads since childhood.
That’s the myth. Here’s the simple truth – which is simple, though not necessarily easy – and when fully realized it can be life changing. A wise teacher of mine said it this way:
“If you’re doing things in order to be happy, you’re doing them in the wrong order!” Michael Neill
Albert Schweitzer, whose genius was beyond question, expressed the same idea this way, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you’re doing, you will be successful.”
OK so the key to success is happiness…but in order to arrive at happiness we need to figure out how we define success.
The answer depends on who’s asking the question; and we need to understand it involves every aspect of life. So if we’re going to find a meaningful definition of success, then we need to define it for ourselves.
Success basically falls into two categories, the first is material or worldly success – the second is personal or inner success.
The first category of success, material success, is made up of all the things that we see on TV or in the movies, all the things that advertisers convince us that we ‘must’ have. The money, the home, the hot new car, the wonderful new clothes and, of course, all the new techno stuff; you know, all the things we would get if we won the lottery.
The second category, personal success, is thought of as the ongoing experience of happiness, love, fulfillment, and well-being in our daily lives. I believe that most people would say, given the choice, that personal success would be by far the most important and really it’s the experiences of the second category that we seek out the goodies in the first.
My question is why do we have to choose at all? Why can’t we have both?
What if we didn’t have to sacrifice entertainment for enlightenment?
What if the truly fulfilled life was a combination…satisfying our material wants and realizing our spiritual needs?
I am sure, that these two definitions of success are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the oldest wisdom traditions assert that lasting happiness is, in fact, dependent on prospering both materially and spiritually.
Success is about life, this means all of life not just a part of it.
Obviously there are challenges to achieving the ‘right’ balance between these two categories, the balance that’s right for you. This is the process of personal development, of personal growth.
The Trail of Personal Development
So, what trail of personal development can you follow that will allow you to meet the challenges and achieve the happiness and success you seek?
There is a blueprint you can follow, a science of success.
To achieve real growth in personal development there are four components or aims to learn, experience and embody. These four components make up the road map for fulfilling your path to lasting happiness and success and are the key to accomplishing your short-term goals as well!
I will discuss each of them at some length in up-coming posts, for now though, I only have the space to simply list them.
First of these components is your unique purpose, an undeniable urge to discover your destiny; an impulse that drives you to get up each day and do what needs to be done.
The second aim is for prosperity, material success, good health, loving relationships and a sense of security; this is sometimes simply defined as abundance. Prosperity or abundance is absolutely necessary in order for you to fulfill your unique purpose.
Pleasure is the third component. Pleasure is what makes the world go round it’s what drives all human behavior. Pleasure includes not only intimacy but also art, friendship, kindness and beauty. I will note that this is the one component that has the potential for overindulgence, addiction and the other “deadly sins.”
The fourth aim seems almost a goal, its Freedom or Peace. This is ‘freedom from’ – and ‘freedom to.’ Freedom from: Worries, anxiety, fear or any kind of suffering. Freedom to: experience joy, and to express your own creativity as fully as possible.
These are the keys to happiness, success and the ultimate in personal development.
Knowing how to affectively work with these four components is to constantly examine not only the essential concepts and their role in your life but also how well balanced they are. It will be important to recognize that this balance will constantly be shifting.
The up-coming posts on happiness, success and personal development will be an examination of each of the concepts; how they are applied in your life and business, so you achieve the success and happiness you deserve…which is your birthright.