It is never easy to be the person you want to be and be the person that others expect you to be. We live in an environment that is littered with expectations, milestones, and achievements. Scoring a goal in soccer, learning to swim, getting a drivers license, losing your virginity, graduating high school, owning a car, graduating college, making a large income, owning a home are just a few of the many examples of what a person should achieve. I am not one to say that these goals and achievements are not important yet I question the value we as a society put on ourselves for such achievements.
I imagine that if we created a profile of a person who had accomplished the fore mentioned achievements, a majority of people would believe that this person was a happy and successful individual. Unfortunately, we are not seeing the nuts and bolts of the profile and seeing the true character of the individual. I would like to know if the person is an empathetic and a loving individual; Do they support friends, are they loved, listen without judgment, value others, able to be vulnerable, present with good morals and values?
It saddens me to know that the validity of our personal success is measured based on the material achievements and milestones we have accumulated over the years. In personal development, these achievements will provide a person with a strong ego and self-confidence yet happiness is not solely formulated based ego strength. We experience happiness and true success based on feelings of serenity and joy created by our internal makeup and character. As all of us know, money, knowledge, and materialistic belongings don’t create happiness.
Based on my travels throughout the world and numerous clients I have met over the years, people spend their life seeking happiness by obtaining more and more, not appreciating what they have. This can be looked at in an external view in which people buy more and more materials overlooking and not cherishing what they already have in their possession. Internally this is depicted by our inability to sit with and address feelings of sadness and shame which requires individuals to mask emotions with maladaptive behaviors such as eating disorders, anger, substance abuse, hoarding, sexual disorders, being a workaholic, and gambling to name a few. Most individuals cannot sit with their loneliness and fears, and therefore utilize one of the negative behaviors above to comfort themselves.
The biggest accomplishment an individual can achieve in life is self-acceptance. This is ultimately obtained by being vulnerable through self expression, conflict, and assertiveness. Human beings experience shame, sadness, guilt, anger, and self-doubt. These attributes are present among every person alive yet most individuals spend their entire life masking these uncomfortable emotions. Self-acceptance is about allowing yourself to be (feel the emotion) and do (express the emotion), which is directly correlated to fulfillment and happiness. If an individual can express themselves authentically and be understood, than they would avoid utilizing maladaptive behaviors to find fulfillment which never occurs.
I am not here to say that graduating from school, having a good job, making money, or having a nice house will not give you some happiness. What I know is true is that without self-acceptance, accomplishments will not create fulfillment in an individuals life. It is a difficult accomplishment to obtain yet the people who live with self-confidence, lack of fear, acceptance of others, are the ones living life to the fullest. Winning is not about acquiring yet about living and being.