How Joy Reinvents Success

We have a story about limitlessness in our cultural story, which, on the surface, sounds terrific. It means not having limits or bounds and is pretty much an anything-goes way of thinking. It is obviously wrong since nature is telling us to chill, unfortunately, without much effect. 

What happens with the idea of limitlessness is that some things are unexamined; one of those things is what we invest our time and energy in. What is also not considered is the price of that investment and the cost to us, others, and the well-being of our planet. 

Are Our Investments Self-Defeating?

We always have some investment going on. You cannot escape it. Everything requires our attention, energy, time and some other resources as well. We are happy when our investments feel like a good use of our time and energy and not so happy when they do not feel right.

In order to feel truly satisfied there needs to be an alignment between what we really need and want, the times we live in, and conditions in our lives. And just as important, we need to be able to deal with each moment in a satisfactory way. What happens when we are out of alignment: when our way of life becomes too demanding of current resources and depletes us faster than we can restore ourselves? And that applies to the earth as well. What happens when our world demands investments that are ultimately self-defeating?

We pay a lot of attention to personality and success, but what does that even mean in a world that is self-destructing? And what is the cost of that success when the earth is burning, and we have over 8 billion people on the planet? What is success if we lose the joy and magic of the beautiful earth we call home? How good can it be for us to succeed in the moment while destroying our future? What a shame that we make the price of survival a success that harms us.

What Is A Success?

Success is a funny thing. It means different things at different times. For early humans, finding a dry, safe cave was a success – or some berries to eat. Success and how we define it changes as we change, but it always must be tied to the reality of life on earth.

There was a time when we did not have enough material well-being, and it was urgent that we create it. We have succeeded but at such a price to ourselves and the earth that we must reimagine success. We need a new story, a new purpose. 

How can we have a healthy relationship with success that advances quality of life for us and others? An example is creating prosthetics for those who have lost a limb. 

We Need A New Kind Of Success

There was a time when seeking more was imperative to have enough to survive. Now, continually seeking more is harming us because the earth does not have enough time to restore the resources that we are consuming. If the earth was like a bank account, we are in the red and not changing direction. 

Once we achieve one form of success, we then get the opportunity to discover new forms of success. That is true for us as individuals and also for cultures.

Cultures are a project and our current cultural project is and has been creating material well-being. we have succeeded but are now overshooting the earth’s ability to continue in this direction. The earth is telling us to chill, to reconsider what we need to be doing.

This is actually a great message because if we can see that we have achieved the objective of being able to create material well-being, then we can start to lift our sights from survival as our purpose and create a new story.  We can embrace new adventures and new joy built on the foundation of material well-being that has been successfully created.

This is good news! But it is a change, and it means that we must change our investment in material accumulation for a new objective. I would suggest that quality of life and thriving would be suitable choices. 

A Joy Practice Creates A Healthy Success

A joy practice, by its very nature, shifts our investment to quality of life. It takes us out of survival to a more relaxed, low-conflict approach to life that serves the common good and the greatest quality of life that we can have. 

A joy practice is built on a foundation of being constructive, of creating caring in the world, and serving the common good. There is no one or no thing to conquer, no one to beat, and no one to harm.

It enables us to relax into our own goodness and the goodness in the world in others and nature and respect and support that goodness. It helps us lighten up and not carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders. Rather a joy practice makes joy everyone’s business and is a great way for us all to be in this together.

I hope the idea of lightening up, relaxing, and not needing more will feel freeing to you; it is what a joy practice offers. I think it is a great deal – and something I definitely want more of. 


Photo by Lucija Ros on Unsplash

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