In today's winner-take-all world, where 400 individuals have more wealth than the bottom half of US households combined (about 100 million households), and have rigged the system to take still more (you have to listen to my show at 6PM ET/3PM PT on Wednesday, 5/30, to hear more about this), the rest of us have to revise our definition of success away from the financial. Here's my take:
- Be who you want to be - I'm talking character here, qualities, not labels. Do you want to be kind? loving? funny? patient? persevering? dignified? supportive of others? You choose the content of your character -- and act from that every single day.
- Choose your life experience
- Do what you choose to do - Act according to your choices of who you want to be. If your choice is to be honest, find ways to do that in every situation. If your choice is to be kind, find ways to do that. (And when those choices conflict, you get to set up your own hierarchy of values. For example, is it more important to be honest, or to be kind in a given situation?)
- Choose work that you like - or at least that is in alignment with your values and abilities. The wisdom handed down through generations in my Jewish family is that you need an education, because the one thing no one can take from you is what is inside your head. I would expand that to include any skill that is useful, whether it is law or medicine, or carpentry, plumbing, gardening, cutting hair, etc. It's important that you work with honor -- honestly and to the best of your abilities.
- Choose the people you'd like to be around - Do you want to be around others who want to be what you want to be? People who support you in being who you want to be?
- Experience the stuff you don't choose in the way you choose - We can't consciously choose everything in our lives. No one chooses to lose a child. Hardly anyone chooses to have the company that employs them shut down. But we can choose how we react. Azim Khamisa chose to turn the tragedy of his son's random murder into an opportunity to teach thousands of young people about forgiveness. (To hear his amazing story, click here.)
- Appreciate everything you do have - You get more of what you focus on - and appreciation is a form of focus. Appreciate your health, the wonderful people -- and the love -- in your life, the food you eat, the roof over your head.