Some thoughts and reflections
Summer has returned to Normandy, the sun is shining; the breeze is gentle and warm. Song birds chirp and sing happily in the trees that surround me and a pair of buzzards circle in the sky before swooping down towards the carp filled lake at the bottom of the valley. In the far distance, but clearly visible, two grey and two brown horses move slowly across a steeply sloping green field, stopping occasionally to chomp the grass. A beautiful white butterfly suddenly takes my attention as it is carried on the light breeze towards me, lands on a rosebush, resting momentarily before a slight movement of its wings takes it back towards the sky once again; and I reflect upon those often small but crucial changes in attitude resulting in actions that enabled the creation of new possibilities and opportunities that eventually led me to this beautiful place.
Small changes in the right place in our life can start a chain of events leading to something often quite remarkable for us. They can create real momentum for personal growth and inspire something very new.
For thousands of years the butterfly has been a metaphor for change and growth.
In chaos theory there is a principal that describes how the movement of a butterfly’s wings begins a chain of events ultimately causing a tornado thousands of miles away.
In everyday life the butterfly’s wings are our personal actions, the tornado is the energy and momentum created by those actions and the result is our personal success.
We are all capable of achieving real success and true happiness, through knowledge and self awareness.
Commonly we equate ‘success’ with prominence and position, you are either a winner or a loser. But this is a very negative and limiting view. Success is not actually about our status in relation to others, and we need to redefine the way we think about success in order to achieve true happiness.
Success, in its truest sense, is about how well we use our gifts, abilities and potential to develop ourselves and create the life and balance we desire, so that success includes being happy, most of the time.
Status, as an indicator of success, is a misnomer, a lie we have been conditioned to believe. Those who have status are not always happy or successful in everything they do and vice versa.
Low self esteem is a common factor in many of the problems and issues that hold people back and stop them achieving their ambitions- those who lack confidence are unable to live successfully, those who don’t love themselves are unable to love others.
A ridiculous amount of unhappiness is created by the myths we are taught to believe in, by the falsehoods we are told we must live up to, and the feelings of failure that arise when we (more often than not) don’t.
Our insistence on status, and the accompanying possessions, is limiting us and creating negative cycles which become more and more difficult to break.
Life is not a competition. Competitive games are ‘zero-sum games’, that is one in which we can only win if the other person or side loses- I win one, you lose one and together the outcomes add up to zero. In order to have winners there must be losers. But most of our relationships and interactions are not zero sum games, it is not necessary for someone to lose in order for us to achieve. You don’t have to ‘beat’ someone, it is possibly for everyone to achieve what they wish, and for all to be successful.
That’s not to say that it is wrong to put oneself first, but that it is possible to do so and avoid the risk of becoming self-centered. Our first goal should be to run our own lives successfully, because only then will we be able to be really constructive in our relationships with others. Happiness begets happiness, hence concentrating on building our own happy lives is the opposite of selfishness, providing we do so without being unfair or unreasonable to others.
If we do what is basically right for us, without being unreasonably unfair to others, then what we offer them is our true self, and not an act. We are aligned, in balance, true to ourselves and happy because of it.
To be truly successful as an individual and having respect for others rights and feelings, are not mutually exclusive things. In fact our success can allow us to create more positive and constructive interactions, leading to growth and development for all.
In some situations a zero sum approach may be entirely appropriate. However the application of zero sum attitudes to the majority of life, which is not zero sum, is ineffective, detrimental to our self esteem and has a negative effect on society as a whole. The myth that success equals winning, equals beating others is dangerous to our health and, ironically, our ability to achieve success.
If we tolerate the myth then we are accepting that we will live within a competitive environment and that means accepting that more often than not we will not be as successful, content or happy as we could have been.
If we keep doing the same thing we will keep getting the same results, at any moment the decisions we make can change the course of our lives for ever.
Perhaps we could occasionally ask ourselves “What is the smallest thing I can do now to create the biggest change in my life”. And remind ourselves that “A thousand mile journey starts with a single step”.
“There is only one true success – to be able to spend your life in your own way”.
I hope the sun is shining where you are – but if not, as Billy Connolly once remarked, “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes”.