Updated: Oct 8, 2020
By Indira Das-Gupta
When you think of someone successful, what boxes do they tick? Do they have a fancy car and a big house in a sought after area? Are they well paid and in a position of seniority at work? Are they toned, attractive and normally dressed in designer clothes? The truth is that you might not tick any of these boxes but still be successful.
It all comes down to what success means to you. Is it just about measuring yourself against some sort of societal and cultural yardstick? We all know people who on the face of it have all the trappings of success and are still deeply unhappy. Just look to the warped world of Hollywood where stars can earn millions for a film but still have to self-medicate with excessive amounts of booze and drugs. It’s also true that people who might be seen as successful are not always the easiest or most pleasant company, their “diva” like qualities excused simply because of their status. lndeed we worship at the altar of fame to such an extent that if you ask most kids what they want to do when they grow up, they will more often than not reply: “Be famous.”
Many of us are taught from an early age to aim for the very top in everything, but we simply can’t all be exceptional. When we put so much pressure on ourselves to succeed and things then don’t go according to plan, it’s no wonder that we often feel an acute sense of failure.
What if we measured success in another way, in terms of happiness and contentment rather than in terms of how many expensive things we have? Or maybe in terms of how much we give back to society rather than how much we take and accumulate for ourselves?
Instead of putting people on a pedestal because they have made lots of money, why not make role models of those quiet but remarkable people who give tirelessly and selflessly, and without whom our world would be a much bleaker place? People like the volunteers in food banks, carers, nurses, cleaners. How can it be right that someone who lives in a moral vacuum but earns triple figures is considered more important than someone who struggles to make a living but is kind and generous despite the obstacles they face?
What has all this got to do with Yoga? Everything! Maybe you first got into Yoga because you have tight hamstrings or a bad back, and maybe you have no desire to delve any deeper into this transformative practice. That’s totally your prerogative. But the real magic of Yoga starts to happen when you begin to take Yoga off the mat and make it a way of life.
Yoga is about being the best version of yourself but also about self-acceptance. So you don’t have a big house and fancy car, guess what? Yoga doesn’t care. Only when you can learn to accept yourself as you are can you truly be content. Without contentment how can anyone be considered “successful”?
If you come along to a Yoga class and struggle to keep up, don’t beat yourself up and view it as another failure, another reason to be down on yourself. If you find Yoga hard but still keep showing up and putting in the work then you deserve nothing but respect. It takes way more resilience to do that than it does to keep doing something that comes easily.
These are really challenging times for so many people. Maybe your job looks uncertain and you are struggling financially, things are hard enough without you using this as ammunition against yourself. If you have people to love and people who love you, a roof over your head, food to eat, clean water to drink then you already have a lot more than many people. If you have all that and are actually able to appreciate it rather than focus on all the stuff you don’t have then you’re pretty damn successful in my book. But it doesn’t matter what I think, only what you think. Want to be successful? Then believe that you already are.
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