In my last post, I introduced a topic that has riveted (okay, haunted) me for years.

Where is success? Where is it for other people? (somewhat important) Where is it for me? (very important)

Is it okay if “my” success doesn’t look like the success others crave or find?

(answer key: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Probably, yes.)

In fact, in recent years I have tabled my curiosity about where other people find success, because, as I mentioned in Part One of this post, it really isn’t relevant. It doesn’t even help me other than to tell me that where they found success isn’t where I find it, and frankly I already knew that.

“Finding success”. Somehow, while I can’t prove it yet, I suspect that success is at the end of any road I take. It is just a matter of whether I prefer to arrive at my destination bloody and bruised….or serene and peaceful.

So now I have really honed in on where I find success. What does “success” feel like? How do I define the word “success”? What would make me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have had a successful life – even if everything I love and know were to suddenly depart? Would I crater if those people and things left me? Or would I be understandably sad but able to still grasp a sense of success in “being me” – whatever that means?

Obviously, these are not easy questions to answer.

But then again, these are also the questions my busy, thought-happy mind likes best. Throwing my mind a thought like any of the above is like buying a hamster a shiny new wheel or giving a baby a pacifier. It gets busy….and I get a few minutes of peace.

So I keep working away at it. One thing I DO know about where I find success today is that it is in the same moments when I find peace and contentment (what one of my mentors calls – I love this word – “equipoise”). In fact, my current longtime mentor, Lynn, is continually reminding me that where peace is, there is also my True North and all the confirmation I need that I am doing the right thing/with the right people/headed in the right direction/etc.

However, I have also noticed that this does NOT mean that success cannot be found in moments where the very opposite of peace seems to rule the day. While those moments are never the culmination of any success I may realize, they are often the catalyst or at least steps along the pathway to success.

My goal in seeking success, then, is to attempt what often feels impossible – to maintain an inner sense of equipoise while still fully embracing whatever the day may bring in a manner that embodies success to me. Words like kindness, patience, non-judgmentalism (if that is even a word), optimism – these are words that exemplify a successful approach to what my mentor calls “life on life’s terms” – and even if what I am actually experiencing perfectly fits my personal definition of big-time failure (someone I love leaves me or dies, I lose all the money in my bank account, my home is destroyed, etc) if I can keep an inner attitude that embodies these fundamental qualities, I am still experiencing success.

Again (because these sorts of things always feel so complicated – until they become simple) this does not mean I become unable or unwilling to feel whatever feelings I have – anger, grief, loneliness, and all of their friends. It just means that underlying “it all” – whatever is going on, whatever I am thinking or feeling or experiencing – I have a basic sense of equipoise, wellbeing, “everything really is alright”.

This is quite challenging to pull off….but it is the closest I have come to understanding the meaning, feeling, and experience of true success in my life to date.

Today’s Takeaway: How do you know that what you are feeling or experiencing is “success”? How do you find comfort even on your toughest days – and a release back into the flow of life in the presence of the good-feelings on your best days?