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Wasn’t this man’s dream.

We grow up thinking that if we get married, have kids, buy the house, and have an excellent job, that this is success. It wasn't this man's dream.

We all grow up thinking that if we get married, have kids, buy the house, and have an excellent job, that this is success. But is this true for everyone? It wasn’t this man’s dream.

Through my adult life, I have had many discussions around what defines success. Furthermore, can our definition of success change? For me, the answer is yes! My definition has been erased and rewritten several times throughout my adult life. While it’s true that life’s course can be altered many times, the ebb and flow of life doesn’t mean failure. As far as I am concerned, it means growth.

For instance, as a young man I defined success in monetary terms only. However, once I achieved every person’s dream, I found myself miserable. Why? Well, I would come to learn that everyone’s dream wasn’t this man’s dream. A fact that took me years to be okay with.

However, before I could give myself permission to say, “It’s okay that you can’t live the life dictated by society,” I was miserable. As it turns out, going against the grain of the way I am wired, cultivated my anxiety disorder. And as if that weren’t enough, depression slowly swallowed my soul.

See you through the fear.

Eventually I realized that I was not capable of chasing this cookie-cutter life, nor did I want to. I had the nice house, the cars, wife, and children. I was also fortunate to have the well-paying job too. Nonetheless, my mental health was being tortured to death by neglect.

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While I loved my children then and obviously still do today, I was mentally ill-prepared to live the fairytale lifestyle that we were all told was the pinnacle of success. Eventually, something had to change.

This became apparent to me around the age of twenty-seven. The anxiety became too much, and sad to say, the PTSD began to boil just under the surface.

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Me: “Ignore it, you’re supposed to be happy, you have achieved every person’s dream. You should be happy.”

For all the young people out there, you may find that this measurement of success is often more of a nightmare. I would respectfully suggest that if you know your limitations, pursue the life that you feel you were meant for. Furthermore, if you have a mental-health condition, it’s okay to customize your life to ease the pain.

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Now that I am forty-five, I have accumulated enough wisdom and have combated enough hardship to understand that love, connection, and winning the battles against mental illness, are my measurements of success. Moment by moment, I win the war, and pursue a life that helps me heal. Finding genuine happiness in between the depressive episodes is the height of my success.

unrecognizable trendy woman lying on street bench near wall with inscription on autumn day
Photo by Анна Галашева on Pexels.com

Finally, I would say that I have been quite successful at helping others. With that said, I was doing it wrong. At least originally. At one point in my life, I had mistakenly thought that taking on the world’s problems would define me as a man. Tragically, though, I was naive and didn’t realize that the world comes packed with chaos. It packs a punch, and I was mentally ill-equipped to take it on. Despite this though, I sure as hell tried.

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Nowadays, I’ve learned that helping people one person at a time can be very impactful on the world. In fact, I would argue that it is more impactful. If I can help one person, feel better about themselves. Thus they can help their children, friends and so on. I feel rewarded rather than stressed; I feel productive rather than a failure. Plus, my contribution is potentially generational. How cool is that?

Better still, it allows me to circumvent all the political correctness and mixed narratives that I personally find confusing and unnecessary. It’s just me and the person I am helping. It’s a win-win. Most importantly, my mental health doesn’t pay a price.

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com – How I help others

So, when I get emails or text messages from people thanking me for my contribution in their healing or otherwise helping them redirect their energy, I derive the most wonderful sense of meaning and accomplishment. This is something that money simply can’t buy. Not only is this true for me, but it has also the greatest measure of success.

So, tell me, how do you define your success?

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