By David Joel Miller.
Is your life a success or a failure?
Why is success so elusive and failure so common? Success should be easy, pick a destination aim for it, go as hard as you can and you should get there. Right? It is not that easy.
No one has ever come for therapy telling me they are too successful. Lots of people tell me they feel their life is a failure. Apparently finding successes is a whole lot more difficult than just pointing your life in a direction and staying on track.
Success is about reaching your goal.
Success is also about the way you take the trip of life. Navigating life reminds me of taking a drive on an unfamiliar windy mountain road in a driving rain. You can’t see very far ahead and the road keeps changing direction. Add a little fog in for good measure. In the early morning before my first coffee, my brain is a lot foggy. Some years are like that also, can’t see where I am going, just need to keep moving forward.
So you are driving along this road of life and you can’t see the road very clearly, lots of twists and turns. You think this destination called success is up ahead but since you haven’t been there yet how will you know it when you see it and how do you get there?
It helps to have a good road map. We talked about that before in posts on goals and values. If you do not know where you are going then how can you know when you get there? When we are young we don’t usually know what we want or even what is possible. The danger here is that we will adopt someone else’s goal.
Even when you have a really good road map for the journey of life it may not work well. There are road closures, construction zones and new thoroughfares that open up. Your map may need revision. Turn offs may appear that were not on your original life map.
One goal could be to fill that car of life up with things. So every time we see something along the road of life we stop and grab some. Pretty soon the car is getting full of all those things. So full there is no room for anyone else in the car, so from here on we go it alone.
If success for you means things not people, life can get lonely.
Got to get to the place called success and other people are in our way. So we fill the car up more. Are there any things others have that you need to feel successful? Sometimes the car gets so full of things we can’t steer anymore and we get in accidents. We have to toss some things. Or the car of life gets so full of things it won’t go anymore.
In life, we call this sort of occurrence a bankruptcy. The bills we have to pay for the things we have gotten exceed our ability to keep moving forward and we have to give up. This bankruptcy can be an actual financial one or it can be an emotional one. Sometimes we do everything right, keep to a minimum of things and still, the car of life hits a slippery part, illness, divorce or job loss, and we slide into the ditch.
Sometimes the trip of life gets difficult, it is all uphill and that car of ours just can’t seem to make the grade. We are tempted to turn off and take an easier road. That easy road may be things like drugs or alcohol or some other addiction. It could be all sorts of other bad habits.
That easier road, many times it is easy because it is all downhill. You don’t realize how far downhill you can go until you reach the bottom. If you thought the road of life was difficult before, climbing back up after a ride to the bottom is even more difficult.
Recovery is possible.
No matter how far down you go you can climb back up. What people who take that route find is that they don’t need all that stuff and that they don’t need to rush so fast to get to success. Just climbing back from their bottom is a success for them.
Some people on this journey of life get discouraged. They pull over and stop trying. Once you give up on success it is all about how much suffering you can endure and then you die.
If you sit things out too long then it can be hard to resume your trip. But many of these people who became discouraged decide to start the trip again and they can and do get back on track.
We are learning that there is never a point in life when you are too old to have a happy life. What you need to do is figure out just where it is that you are going and then determine to enjoy the ride. Not every car ride has a destination; some are just for the pure pleasure of the experience.
People who have become discouraged and stopped trying, when they pick up and begin to participate in life, discover that the pain of life is required. Sometimes life is hard. But the suffering, the “I can’t take this”, that is about attitude. Being miserable on your journey is an option and so it appears is happiness.
So along this journey, I am calling writing my blog, I want to take some time to look at success and failure and see what they look like and how we determine which is which. As time and space permit we will look more at life and how it is we can cope with success and failure and create the happy life we all deserve.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- Going nowhere fast? When you want something and you’re not getting it. (counselorssoapbox.com)
- That Jobs thing – Is anybody working? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- How to Build a Successes Machine – The technology of success (counselorssoapbox.com)