I've carried this piece of paper around with me for over 10 years now. A poem by Emerson on the meaning of 'SUCCESS'. It's seen the inside of all of my wallets, served as a quick fix bookmark when needed, come with me on all my travels..... and is now loudly staring at me from my cork board.
It's funny how I've carried it SO close, every single day for a decade, but in all honesty it's meaning has only really resonated with me until recently.
A close girlfriend that I worked with, wrote this Emerson quote for me as a thoughtful gesture when I'd just started at my first job in Advertising, fresh out of University. I was so young, determined and excited to 'move on and up' in the world towards my goal of what I'd envisioned as 'Success'. THAT definition of Success was to be 'REPUTABLE'... to be 'FIRST'... to be 'ADMIRED' for some GRAND SCALE achievements of mine. Looking back I was So naive and clueless! Even now I remember how hooked I was on that 'have to be FIRST' mentality.... and sure enough, after endless nights of studying after work,... I got top marks at the post training exam at that Company because ofcourse I was determined to be the BEST.
But now I see 'success' so differently from the 'Me, me and only me' mindset.... it's seriously not a goal as such but more a lifestyle of GIVING isn't it? A daily habit.... a combination of ALL the butterfly touches you scatter throughout each day to add a bit of brightness to some ONE or some THING.
There's a lot to be said for Emerson's wise words above, where REAL SUCCESS and PURPOSE in life come from being authentic, kind, honest and 'GIVING of yourself to others'. Making SOME difference to the world by being here through big or small acts of service. 'To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, to know even one life has breathed easier, because you lived.' Isn't that LIBERATING to know? No you don't have to be next in line to be selected by NASA; be the next OBAMA; or have saved the world from world war or world hunger. But it's even the small baby steps and differences that count and worth a big pat on the back.
I don't know about you, but when I read Emerson's quote I feel reassured. The comforting words of 'It's perfectly OK to just BE me as is' comes to mind.
So these days, my versions of 'Emerson Style Successes' include hosting a charity fundraiser for a worthwhile cause, or inventing a cake recipe to have a friend on the other side of the world display it in her tea house's cake display window. There are also the surprise treats left outside my neighbours' doors to brighten their day, or my weekly phone calls to motivate a friend to stay on track with their fitness goals and the gift cards posted to beloved friends randomly 'just because'... to add a smile to their day. For another it's volunteering weekly to read stories to a young girl in foster care, and for another it's simply cooking delish meals each night for their family or volunteering to repair a friend's car. What's yours? What are your Soulful and Simple Emerson Successes? Where you know even one life has breathed easier because you lived? xo
Here's the full Emerson quote. Enjoy xo
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.... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.