I’m almost done with reading and understanding what the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff has to say. Although there are some points in the book that I don’t agree with, there are still some of them that I do find helpful. This chapter, the eighty-seventh chapter, is one of those chapters.
In Redefine a “Meaningful Accomplishment” Richard Carlson reminds us once again of one of the most important things in life. This is what he has to say about it:
Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with our so-called accomplishments. We spend our lifetimes collecting achievements, earning praise and recognition, and seeking approval–so much so that we lose sight of what is truly meaningful.
If you ask the average person (as I have done many times), “What is a meaningful accomplishment?” the typical response will be things like, “Achieving a long-term goal”, “earning lots of money”, “winning a game”, “getting a promotion”, “being the best”, “earning praise”, and so forth. The emphasis is almost-always on the external aspects of life–things that happen outside of ourselves. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with these types of accomplishments–they are a way of keeping score and improving our circumstances. They are not, however, the most important types of accomplishments if your primary goal is one of happiness and inner peace. Seeing your photograph in the local newspaper may be a nice thing to achieve but isn’t as meaningful as learning to stay centered in the face of adversity. Yet many people would point to their photo in the paper as being a great accomplishment, but wouldn’t necessarily think of “staying centered” as an accomplishment at all. Where are our priorities?
If being peaceful and loving are among your primary goals, then why not redefine your most meaningful accomplishments as being those that support and measure qualities such as kindness and happiness?
I think of my most meaningful accomplishments as stemming from inside myself: Was I kind to myself and others? Did I overreact to a challenge, or was I calm and collected? Am I happy? Did I hold on to anger or was I able to let go and move on? Was I too stubborn? Did I forgive? These questions, and others like them, remind us that the true measure of our success comes not from what we do, but from who we are and how much love we have in our hearts.
Rather than being consumed exclusively with external accomplishments, try putting more emphasis on what’s really important. When you redefine what it means to achieve a meaningful accomplishment, it helps you to stay on your path.