Recently I listened to a fantastic motivational speaker. He gets paid a ridiculous amount of money for doing what he does and speaks to tens of thousands of people at a time.
I felt really pumped after listening to him. Yes, there is greatness in me. Yes, I have the power to have an amazing life. Yes, I too can earn vast quantities of money and never have to feel the insecurity of lack. All I have to do is work hard and work smart. And keep doing it.
The next day I felt a bit down. How could this be?
I investigated my mental and emotional state. And then I realised.
Getting motivated when you’re stuck is a great thing. And it’s wonderful to open your mind and heart to opportunities you hadn’t previously thought were possible for you.
The problem with success speak
Here’s what I think you have to be careful with while you’re learning the many valuable tools the whole success scene has to offer:
- If you think of success as being in the future, you position your present self in a state of relative failure. That’s not good for your head.
- If you accept that you have full power to shape your own destiny, as a by-product you get to accept that all your present and past woes are pretty much your own fault. That’s not good for your head either – and probably isn’t true either.
- If you open your mind to the possibility of massive wealth, fame, or whatever else you’re encouraged to visualise and get hungry for, all of a sudden you can find yourself feeling poor, obscure, and lacking in a whole host of different ways.
The Buddhist approach to success
The Buddhist approach is quite different. It turns success on its head.
For Buddhism, success is primarily a state of mind. This may well eventually express itself in your world, but the mind is king.
So, we cultivate contentment, gratitude and a sense of ‘enoughness’.
We cultivate mindfulness and universal loving-kindness.
We look for that which is positive in our present experience and dwell on that.
There may be things we need to change in our lives. We change them as best we can with the full resources available to us with our awesome meditation-clad minds and our emotionally robust hearts.
At the same time, we know that there are things within our power, and things not in our power. We acknowledge that anything in our lives is the result of a complex interaction of causes and conditions. The idea that we have control of all of them is clearly not true.
Consequently, we bring about change where we can, and we practice tolerance and patience with the rest of it. There is nothing defeatist or disempowering about living in accordance with how things actually are.