I’m seeing a movement picking up speed. People are redefining success. It feels to me like we’re in some evolutionary time machine that’s speeding up. I’m delighted and excited.
Since the Industrialization period, success seems to have donned bright consumeristic and materialistic robes, the more the better. Yet the happiness index has plummeted. A quick Google search or run down the aisle at one of those few book stores still standing shows oodles of work done to procure smiles and bliss while ignoring the underlying state of things. Statistics, for what those are worth, show we’re unhappier than ever as a whole. But even if you don’t buy that, just go to a city mall during the holidays and look at the faces. You’ll get what I mean.
More and more the collective consciousness is realizing we need to level up. Groups are coming together right and left to do this. In Boulder, Colorado great visionaries have gathered at the Success 3.0 Summit in the past days to rethink success. I’ve watched some of these presentations.
John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO, says this at the Summit: “Imagine a business that is born out of a dream about how the world could be and should be.”
Michael Bernard Beckwith of Agape International says he can see a time coming where his grandkids say, “You guys used to get jobs just to get money? How 2015! I can’t even believe the world used to be like that.” What would that look like, a world driven by something higher than the almighty dollar?
All these great minds have gathered to look at higher level works that extend beyond chasing that almighty dollar, or not so mighty Euro, or whatever. They are zeroing in on the idea that each of us has a unique purpose (that’s tied into our passions) and job here to do in the world that often becomes blindsided by the need to earn cash and pay the bills. What would the world look like if each person was actually living out that unique purpose? Would our ecological, political, and economical issues solve themselves? Would our happiness meters shoot off the chart?
In another part of the country, Oprah and Deepak are in the middle of their new free 21 Day Meditation called, “Manifesting True Success.” Each day brings a new focus. I love Day 2’s centering thought: I am here to bring more love into the world. Deepak says, “An important aspect of success is to love and to be loved. A successful life extends to the highest spiritual dimensions, but it also must be practical in the here and now. If you can increase the love in the world, if you love yourself on the road to success and if you identify with love as your deepest personal value, then you have grasped what true success is.” (In other words, get your ass off your meditation pillow and go love the world and yourself–then, get back to the pillow!)
I’ve seen a number of documentaries of Hollywood types with private jets and star-studded friends’ lists come to the conclusion that happiness lies elsewhere. In the case of Tom Shadyac, he gave his gazillions to charity, and traded the private jet for a ten speed and a mobile home near Pepperdine University where he teaches. There, he says in his documentary “I Am,” his happiness meter sky-rocketed higher than it had ever been.
I’ve experienced a degree of this in my own life. In my personal life, my husband and I lived a much different life in Southern California than we do in Northern California now. There, we ate many fancy dinners, had a way-too-big house (though lovely), went regularly to the family box at the Hollywood Bowl, spent the day at the Opera and had lovely play tickets whenever we wanted them. My husband commuted for hours each day to Santa Monica from the South Bay and wouldn’t get home until traffic “had died down.” At that point, he was stressed and tired and need another hour to unwind once he made it home. This was the best way he believed he could provide financial security to his family at the time.
Meanwhile, I had quit my teaching job when my youngest son was born and was able to stay home with my baby and my teenager and raise them. I was able to do the mommy and me day classes, have the whole beach for my baby and me during the week, take my kids to all their things and just be with them, while not being distracted by working full time as I had when my oldest son was young and I was a single parent.
To us, this looked like success…until it didn’t.
We moved out of the city and settled in a smaller house (perfect size!) in our rural environment. We quickly re-imagined what success looks like. Now, we are both here when our youngest son gets up, eats breakfast, goes to school, gets home, and goes to sleep. My mom lives less than a mile down the street, and our son’s public high school is a quick five minutes away. My husband and I are able to sit with each other in our jammies in the morning after he leaves, drink coffee and talk about the world—our ideas, our epistemologies, how it’s all tying together, our personal experiences each day. We’re able to go out in the afternoons and walk without worrying about hurrying to the next thing. There are days the cars never leave the garage. And we are both able to do the work we are meant to do on this planet, as well as remain open to what emerging work lays waiting.
It’s showing off this year like you wouldn’t believe. My mom bought it for my birthday 5 years ago and this year was the first year it really came into its own. The butterflies just love it, and spend most the day darting in and out through lavender puffs. I sat on a bench near the bush a few days ago and just watched. What kept running through my mind was This is all there is and how grateful I was to have this present moment with nature and the Divine that lives there.
The key, in my mind, is staying sensitive to the shifts. Success is not a static thing. As we evolve globally, especially when that speeds up, we may be called in other directions, depending on what the world needs. We must listen, and respond accordingly. It’s not all about us. Our happiness and our world depend on it.