Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Redefining Success

Success means different things to different people, and also means different things in different situations. I know some people who are perfectionists, who seldom feel that they succeed in anything in life. Then there is the Special Olympics, where every participant is made to feel that they succeeded, no matter how they actually did in the games.One definition of success, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is: a favorable or desired outcome.
I am involved with a Jewish women's group that gets together for a luncheon program once each month. We had a gathering today, which was longer and more involved than usual, a celebration of the Jewish month of Sh'vat, with a Tu B'Sh'vat Seder (celebrating the beginning of a new growing season in the land of Israel, a New Year for the Trees). I have a friend in the group who has had a very difficult time health-wise for several months. She is struggling to find her new balance point, the point at which she can participate in all the myriad aspects of her life, without repeatedly throwing herself into a tailspin.(Sound familiar to anyone?) We talked a little about this before the session started, and I told her that on occasion, I have found a couch to lay down on, near enough to hear what is going on, but where I can be more comfortable and relaxed.
This friend had someone prepare a plate of food for her, and she sat down at the table with the rest of us. She remained at the table for the entire lunch and program, and even participated in the discussion. For most people, this would seem like no big deal. For her, it was a big deal. Many of us, including myself, have been there, and know what it is like. Though most people wouldn't recognize it as such, this is success. To accomplish something, no matter how small, that pushes you beyond your easy comfort zone, that is success.
Success, to me, is doing the best I can in the situation. On days when I have alot of pain or fatigue, success has a much lower threshold than it does on days when I feel better. Success should not be a comparison between you and someone else, or even between you today and you 10 years ago. Especially if you are living with chronic pain or illness, you will never measure up if that is how you measure success. Instead, measure success by what is feasible today, in this situation, with these conditions. Success is a 'favorable or desired outcome', it does not need to be a perfect outcome.      

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