How do we, as a society, typically measure success? The general consensus would agree that in order to be considered ‘successful’, one must have a certain degree of financial abundance; a respectable career in a reputable field; an apparently functional relationship and/or family situation; and of course, one must be perceived as ‘happy’. To be viewed as successful to the mainstream outward observer, one must conform to societal norms of having ‘the stuff’, living in ‘the home’, and driving ‘the vehicle’. This label of ‘successful’, when we systemically begin to unpack what it means, is in actuality nothing more than a perception that we as individuals or as a collective wish to be identified as.

Well, what about this? What if I asked you what your goals were, not in terms of what you wished to achieve, attain, or accomplish, but instead on how you wanted to feel? What if we really, truly, intrinsically let go of what we work towards in life in response to what our parents dreamed for us, our spouses expected of us, and our own personally imposed presumptions in the creation of a legacy for our own children? What if we freed ourselves from societal pressure to be perceived as definitively successful by peers, communities, social groups and humanity as a whole? And what if I told you that although ‘happy’ is a nice way to be, feeling ‘peaceful’ has more longevity and can be more simply sustained over the long term?

What if PEACEFUL was your new measure of SUCCESS?

What if every decision you made, from the food you put in your body, to the type of exercise you engage in, to the relationships that you wish to be a part of, to the choices you make in your career path, to the decor you elect to surround yourself by in your home was made with the primary goal of feeling peaceful instead of successful?
It is important to note that all of this does not suggest that the quest of having a beautiful home, a luxurious vehicle, and a successful career are things that will assuredly strip us of feeling peaceful. But at times, the price that we pay to establish these measures of success strip us of the essence of inner peace.

This type of altered mindset can at first sound unconventional, unrealistic, and downright terrifying. What about all of your obligations and commitments? What about your responsibilities to others? What would people think? What about the ‘shoulds’, ‘have-to’s’, and ‘need to’s’ that most of us govern our lives by?

“Focus is often a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.”
John Carmack

Yoga, meditation, and a mindful lifestyle teach us that suffering is inevitable but that once we learn to soften into discomfort, to find ease instead of pushback, we are ultimately able to exist in an etherically peaceful inner state as often as possible. Yogic philosophy reminds us that although moments of ANANDA, or Bliss, are available to us as humans, the ultimate goal in our human-ness is SANTOSHA, or Contentment. To find a space of unwavering and steadfast peaceful equanimity is what offers us stability, longevity and helps us master the art of non-attachment. The Yoga Sutras, a classical yogic text written by the great sage Pantanjali, offers us the wisdom of Aparigraha, or non-attachment, that enlightens us to the concept of the less we are attached to, the less we will suffer. Attachment in the form of stuff, cars, homes, expectations in others, and also in ourselves.

These are all extremely complex and demanding precepts by which to live our lives, but here’s the thing…you are a work in progress. No matter your age, your status, your title…you are a being in constant flux and evolution. What if the end goal wasn’t a goal after all, but instead was a testament to waking up each day and feeling that peace was the goal? What choices would you make differently? What would you free yourself from? What would you say ‘no’ to? What would you say ‘yes’ to?

What if feeling peaceful every day was the target at which you aimed?

Contemplation for practice off -the-mat:

  • What does peace feel like to you?
  • How would you live your every day if you truly did not place value on what others thought of you, or expected from you?
  • If you only had one year left to live, what changed would you make in your lifestyle, your commitments, and your relationships?
  • What does ‘living your truth’ look like?

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