What is success?

The unwritten goal of this blog is to succeed.  But in order to do that, I need to first define success.  Mary Jaksch over at Goodlife Zen has an interesting post about achieving success while maintaing a person’s integrity.

I think success has two aspects to it, an internal aspect and an external aspect.  The external aspect is what others see.  These are the outward signs of success: fame, wealth, power.  The internal aspect, however, can only be sensed by the individual.  I call it their spirituality.  This spirituality can manifest itself in many ways, but some examples of the signs of this “success”, are serenity, peace, humility, and love.

I think of the tabloids and the gossip that the media continually reports.  Report after report of tragic stories about people that, by all accounts of what society considers as successful, should be happy and enjoying life.  Instead they reveal how hollow their lives are, how little satisfaction they have with what they have attained, and how lonely they are.

For all their wealth, power, and fame they seem to lack spirituality.

Spirituality and the external aspect of success are not mutually exclusive.  But I don’t think a person will ever consider themselves a success, regardless of how great their external achievements are, without attaining some measure of internal success.

My goal become more spiritual.  That, to me, is success.

The “Zen Den” is finished. Sort of.

I have been working for several weeks to empty a room to allow me to have some space to practice guitar and mediate.  The original name of the room was going to be “the man cave.”  But for some reason that name was not appriciated in the house as they did not see the humor in it.  (Living with three ladies I should not have been surprised at this…)  So the name was changed to the more fitting “Zen Den.”

The purpose of the room is to provide an empty space that was free of clutter.  I felt it was important to have one space that would allow me to practice my Zen activities without worrying about the rest of the family and getting in their way.  Additionally it will provide me a space to practice my guitar and a place to keep them (versus the dining room where they were being stored.)

The one big item that has been a stumbling block (both literally and figuratively) was the desk.  The desk took up a good 80% of the space in the room.  It was enormous.  We have a neighbor that has just moved in.  They are a young couple just starting out.  I asked if they would like the desk and they gratefully accepted.  I helped them move it into their house today.

I stood in my room and enoyed the space.

But the room is more than than simply a room to participate in these activities.  It is an ongoing testiment of my progress towards a more Zen way of living.  It is not finished yet.  I still have a way to go with getting rid of stuff.  But Zen is a practice, not necessarily a goal to be obtained in the normal sense of the word.

Progress report time!!!

My initial goals were set over a month ago, and I think now would be a good time to evaluate how things are going with them.  The original “mini-goals” were as follows:

  1. Read Zen Habits (http://zenhabits.net/) daily
  2. Read Four Hour Work Week Blog (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/) daily
  3. Do 1/2 hour daily research on how to improve this blog.
  4. Do 1/2 hour daily learning Apple development
  5. Blog on this blog daily.

#1 I have done fairly well.  The others, well, not so much.  My work on this blog has been sporadic at best.  But at least I have not given up. 

I have also added a few things to the “goal list” silently.  These I have been making good progress on these.  Better progress, in fact, than my original list.  These items are as follows:

6. Practice Guitar

7. Read Zen literature.

8.  Mediate

I have been fairly consistent in working on these items and have been pleased by my progress on these items.  So overall, while my progress in not what I would have hoped in some regards, on the newer additions I have been doing pretty well on.

I have also made some significant progress in working on the “Zen Den” and, while there is always room for improvement, simplifying my life of clutter.  And my rampant materialism still needs work.  But it is the journey that is important here.

So with that in mind, it is time  to rededicate myself to the goals I have initially set and peruse them with renewed vigor.  Hopefully in a month or so I can report back with a little better progress that I have today.


One think I have always aspired to do, other than learn to play guitar, is to learn to meditate.  I tried to mediate when I was a teenager.  My interest at that tie was probably due to the Beatles, with John Lennon being a key figure in my life at that time (for good or bad.)  However my interest waned in my 20s and 30s being less interested or less focused on spiritual things.  In the last couple of years, however, my interest has been renewed.

However I still had an issue of basically being without guidance on how to mediate.  I had a basic idea about what I was supposed to do, but there was always a sense of doubt that I was doing it correctly.  My attempts to find someone in the local area that was versed in traditional (eastern) mediation always came up empty.  

Recently I have come across a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn entitles “Wherever You Go, There You Are.”  I am only a few chapters into it as this time, as I am taking it slowly and deliberately (mindfully?) to work on each point as a develop my mediation style.  But so far I have greatly appreciated his insights and found his advise very useful in helping build my mediation skill.

I have also been focusing more on stopping throughout the day to take stock of where I am.  Today was a particularly nasty day, but stopping throughout the day to refocus and be more mindful of what was going on has been helpful in taking what would have been an over-the-top nightmarish day, in to one that was annoying, but still tolerable.  Perhaps, with continual practice, a day like today could someday just be another day.

One bright spot in the day was when my daughter called.  She is eleven and just wanted to ask me a question about a video game she was playing.  This was the bright spot of my day.

In other fronts, the “Zen Den” or “man cave” continues to progress.  This weekend I hope to empty it of furniture so I can move my guitars in there and have a decent place to meditate.