Have you ever met a person who shares a story with you about what they should have done, might have done, or could have done? Who shares with you, if only I had acquired a different job, been involved in a different relationship, lived in a different community, had a different degree, I would be happy? It is common knowledge that many people wake up every day using yesterday as an excuse to justify why they are miserable today.
Forgiveness is a powerful gift that releases us from the bondage of past failures, hurts and disappointments. I cannot change yesterday, but I can make the choice whether to learn, grow and move on from past mistakes and misfortunes, or allow them to control my emotional well being today and attitude in the future. The need for forgiveness in our lives is directly proportional to the degree of which we have failed, been hurt, or victimized. The more we experience these destructive encounters the greater degree of forgiveness is needed to mend the damage done.
Forgiveness of self is the first assignment for all of us. We have all failed but our failures teach us what we are capable of achieving. I personally believe a significant measure of a person is their ability to persevere through the disastrous times they experience. It should be a goal for all of us to continue to look forward, and not use past failures as present day excuses for being unhappy and unfulfilled.
Second, if you have ever attended a place of worship, many times a message that is heard revolves around forgiving others who have hurt us. My question for all of you is what does forgiving others have anything to do with others? The answer is absolutely nothing. Whether the hurtful person accepts your forgiveness or not becomes their responsibility. Think about this just for a brief moment. People who have hurt us, what are they doing with their lives? They are moving on in a constructive or destructive way, but are they thinking of you? If they were thinking of you, wouldn’t they want to mend the relationship, heal the hurts, and make amends from days gone by? If we conclude they could care less about us, why would we allow them to emotionally live “rent free in our brain”? Evict them out of your head. We never forget the hurts, but if we do not forgive those who have hurt us, we allow them to have control of our emotional well being. The reason you forgive another person has nothing to do with the other person; it has everything to do with you.
Forgiveness of environment is the third component to becoming free from the burden of baggage. It is a choice whether we allow the world, the weather, the war, the government, and the many other media driven disappointments to structure how we feel towards others and ourselves. I cannot change many of the negative occurrences I witness and hear about everyday, but I can change how I react to it. I can forgive the situation, and not allow it to negatively impact my desire to be positive, optimistic or continue to make a significant difference in the lives of others.
The wonderful freedom we experience from forgiveness is to understand the less baggage we carry the lighter the load. As a result we experience greater freedom to enjoy life, to be less burdened, to be more joyous, giving, respectful and selfless. Be free, and enjoy the exhilaration of rescuing your emotional control from the grasps of the experiences and people who have taken it from you. Forgiveness will provide you a renewed outlook on life, a resurgence of positive energy, and a greater foundation of self-respect.
Daily we are inundated with information about what we should be, should do, should wear, and should have in order to be successful. Our children are especially vulnerable to the power of the media and the ever-advancing speed of technology in influencing their perceptions of what defines success. What does it mean to be successful? How do you define success? Is success defined as power, wealth and fame or can it be defined as balance, contentment and peace of mind, or both? Are our daily actions supporting the achievement of what it means for us as individuals to be successful? Does our definition of success reinforce and compliment the personal and professional values that we believe in? These are observations and questions that should be reflected on, and answered for each of us.
Over the centuries many prominent figures have contributed to the understanding of what it means to be successful. To highlight a few, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Self-Trust is the first secret to success. Booker T. Washington said, I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. stated, The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well., and Mark Twain declared, Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines success as, “The achievement of something desired, planned or attempted.” Notice that the definition provides no ethical code to what is desired, planned or attempted, leaving the door open for much interpretation and discussion. Personally, I believe defining success in ones life is significantly more substantial then this generic dictionary version. One of the best definitions of success that I ever received was during a “No Excuse!” seminar training session that I conducted for the United States Postal Service in Queens, NY. A gentleman stated that his definition of success was, “Eager to go to work and eager to go back home.” I thought to myself that is perfect, because that is life balance in a wonderful way. To be equally energized and excited to participate in our profession and our family is a balance we all should strive for.
So where does “Dining” for Success come into play? My homework assignment is for you to take time at the dinner table tonight and discuss as a couple, or a family, what success means. For those who have children ask the young ones, “How do they define success?” Do you think a six year old might have a different answer than a sixteen year old? As a result, another door will open for parent participation to discuss the areas of success that you might feel to be important for them to understand.
If ones idea of success is wealth, fame, power, prestige and they achieve it, and it is truly a reflection of what they want and who they are, they are successful. On the other hand, if ones idea of success is a happy family, a profession they enjoy, a community they love, a place of worship where they feel free to worship, to own their own home and they achieve that; are they not just as successful as what society might put on the pedestal? Of course they are, because it is a reflection of who they are, and what they want to be. Over time, I have discovered that true success is the sum of achievement, plus personal honesty. Achieving without compromising our character and core values in the process of that achievement is true success.