Brenda at My Spring Snow has been posing some questions of the day, and I thought her most recent one was interesting. "How do we define success or happiness in life? and "What defines achieving your potential?" This one is easy for me so I'll take a shot.
I can remember when I had no idea what I wanted in life. I didn't know if I even wanted success, much less trying to define it. I'm pretty lucky I guess, because what I got was direction, and it was handed to me the day my first child was born. My life changed so much that day that it was like stepping out of an airlock and onto a completely different planet. Suddenly I started caring about things like pesticides and seatbelts and obeying the speed limit and eliminating food dyes and being a good role model. And I also got a benchmark to measure other things against, because from that day on whenever I was presented with a questionable situation I would ask myself, "Is this thing good for my child?" And if the answer was a definite no, then that was the end of that. I didn't need to go any further.
So I think I had it easy, to some extent, after I finally did get pregnant (the actual getting pregnant was the hardest part.). And of course I made a bunch of mistakes as a mom. I gave Ben an experimental swat on his behind and then cried about it all night (it really did hurt me more than him). I lost my temper with Ally because she lost her temper too many times. I regret that I didn't walk in to school sooner to tell that 5th grade teacher he was a jackass. But on balance, I think I'm a success so far. I think I'm achieving my potential, because I'm trying to be the best parent I can be. Along the way that has meant striving to be a good role model -- and that has meant trying to be honest and fair and to be caring towards others, whether someone is watching or not and especially when it's hard to do. It has also meant being good to myself and showing my kids that self-love is important too.
So for me at least, I think the answer to the question of "How do we define success or happiness in life?" and "What defines achieving your potential?" is this. Find something or someone you care very deeply about and make a commitment to that. Devote yourself to it. Be grateful for it. Work hard to cherish it and take care of it and to make it your life's work. Don't let anyone tell you that what you are doing isn't valuable because you know in your heart that it is the most perfect and right thing for you to do with your life. No one can do that but you.