“Put inner success first and true wealth will surely follow.”
In the West, the word ‘success’ typically conjures up images of movie stars, royalty, red carpets and celebrities relaxing at home on the cover of ‘Hello’ magazine.
These are the individuals that society portrays as successful, in the conventional sense of the word.
If money and fame could buy you happiness, Wall St. and Hollywood would be the happiest places on earth— which is clearly not the case.
I see shinier eyes and bigger smiles in Indian villages than I do in Western cities.
Success is a subjective term.
There’s outer success — getting to the top of the Forbes rich list, becoming the best football player in the world or the president of your country.
And there’s inner success— sparkling eyes, being consistently happy and at peace within oneself, living a grateful and fulfilled life.
When I think of the word success, I think more Dalai Lama than Donald Trump, more Mother Teresa than Jeff Bezos.
And I think of Sitaram Baba, the Himalayan yogi I was blessed to meet back in the 80s.
He lived in a remote cave with no electricity or running water and had the biggest smile and shiniest eyes I’ve ever seen!
He sat there in a simple loin cloth, radiating the most extraordinary peace and joy, which was absolutely palpable to all who met him.
He was probably the richest person I ever met ; you could say the most successful, depending on your perspective?
So, what does it mean to live a truly successful life?
I would say that, whatever our outer achievements, if they are not accompanied by qualities such as happiness, joy, inner peace, kindness, compassion and the desire to serve others, there’s a limit to how fulfilled we’re going to feel.
“Some people are so poor, all they have is money”. — Patrick Meagher
Want to know how to switch off the mind’s incessant chatter at will and allow peace, happiness and inner freedom to blossom?
Without Inner Success You Can Be Outwardly Rich But Inwardly Poor
Outer wealth doesn’t make you happy.
Comfortable, yes. Secure, yes.
But inner success and happiness have very little to do with your bank balance or achievements.
When I was researching my book “Awaken the Happy You” a few years back, I was surprised to discover that financial status and life situation account for a mere 10% of our happiness.
As the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy you love”.
Society’s Roadmap to Success
As kids, most of us are told by our parents and society that the roadmap to a successful and happy life is to work hard at school, go to university, get a well paid job, find a partner, buy a house etc. etc.
And then you’ll be happy.
It’s quite bizarre that adults (who are often unhappy and unfulfilled themselves) tell their kids, who are already happy without any of these things, the steps they need to take to become happy and successful in future.
And of course, if the above steps are in alignment with your heart’s desire — with what makes you feel energised and alive — that’s great.
There’s no right or wrong way to live our lives.
But this route isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It certainly wasn’t mine.
I’m not at all saying that any of these things are bad, only that, without giving attention to our inner success, we can easily become the person with the big house and the big car who feels lost, unfulfilled and empty inside.
With our emphasis on the external, we have created a society which is full of people who are outwardly successful and inwardly poor.
Unfortunately, our education system doesn’t teach us how to find inner success— how to turn inwards and find the source of uncaused joy within.
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Put Inner Success First and the Rest Will Follow
Most people have got the happiness formula back to front i.e. if you first do A, B and C, you’ll then obtain X, Y and Z… and they will make you happy.
According to the Law of Attraction, and my own experience, it works the other way round.
If you focus first on feeling grateful and happy, you raise your vibration and become like a magnet, attracting to you the things that are in alignment with how you feel. Feeling is key.
If you put your inner success (your peace and happiness) first, then God, Life, The Universe—whatever you like to call it— will step up and take care of your every need, often in ways you could never have imagined.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else shall be added unto ye”.
I want to share a powerful insight I had on a meditation retreat a few years back. I write about it in my book “Awaken the Happy You”.
Each day on the retreat, we were given a specific focus to meditate on and one day, the focus was to “make the present moment more important than any past of future thought”.
That particular day, I went into a deep space and was very present and still.
At some point a thought spontaneously appeared in my head, “I’d love some chocolate”.
I opened my eyes and, in that very moment, someone was standing in front of me, literally handing me chocolate. I gratefully accepted, put it in my mouth and continued meditating.
Shortly afterwards, another thought appeared, “I’m thirsty. I must go to the kitchen and fill up my water bottle.”
Again, when I opened my eyes, I saw that someone had already filled it for me.
And I had the clear realisation that this is how life works.
You first seek the kingdom of heaven (the peace and stillness of present moment awareness) and all else is added unto you (the Universe takes care of all your practical needs).
In other words, put your inner success first and trust that all else shall follow.
Having the courage to live your life in this way is another matter… and a topic for another post.
We are strongly conditioned to put our safety and security first, often at the expense of our peace, happiness and fulfilment.
But if you can find the courage to follow your joy and put that first, you may well discover that life will take care of you, often in ways you could never have imagined.
So, what are the signs of an inwardly successful life?
7 Signs of Inner Success
On a personal level, inner success may take the form of deep, rewarding relationships, fulfilling and meaningful work, authenticity, self-care, a healthy sense of self-love and contributing to the happiness and wellbeing of others.
Here are 7 signs of an inwardly successful life:
You are authentic and congruent in your thoughts, words and actions. You live in accordance with what feels true in your heart. You are willing to stand in your own truth and resist the pressure to comply, to be liked or to fit in with the crowd.
You prioritise happiness and make your life decisions based on what makes you feel expansive and alive. You feel free to change direction at any time if what you’re doing or the people around you are no longer in alignment with what’s important for you.
You recognise that, at the end of the day, there’s nothing more important in life than human connection. A successful life is one in which you have loved to the best of your ability. You prioritise nurturing the relationships you have with family and friends.
You wake up in the morning excited to be alive. You’re grateful for the good in your life—your health, your home, your friends and family and are attentive to the abundance that surrounds you. You see life’s setbacks and challenges as gifts in disguise to help you grow further.
You’ve learned to be kind, gentle and loving towards yourself… and others. You recognise that the negative traits in your character are an unavoidable part of being human. We are imperfect by nature and that’s normal and OK. You’ve learned to stop beating yourself up for your perceived flaws and practice self-compassion instead.
You are honest, moral and always do what’s right, irrespective of whether you benefit personally or not. You don’t live according to the notion, ‘what can I get out of this for me?’ rather ‘what kind of person do I want to be?’ or ‘how would I want others to treat me in similar circumstances?’
Service to Others
Every great person who ever lived had a purpose in life which was bigger than themselves.
Martin Luther King once said:
“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve others.”
Always looking for opportunities to be of service to others is one of the hallmarks of inner success.
In conclusion, all of the above will increase the amount of joy, happiness and fulfilment we experience in our lives … regardless of whether we are materially successful or not.
And if you do have material success, you are unlikely to enjoy and appreciate it so long as your focus is self-centred.
Remember, our life situation and circumstances only contribute a mere 10% to our level of happiness.
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The Ultimate in Inner Success
Before finishing, I’d like to return briefly to Sitaram Baba, and others like him.
Arguably, the most successful humans who have ever lived are self-realised Masters such as The Buddha or Christ— those who have transcended their egoic nature and realised the immensity of who they are beyond the limitations of mind, body, time and space.
It is the ultimate achievement for a human… and the pinnacle of inner success.
For one who has achieved this state of being, the qualities of the true Self naturally shine forth— unshakeable peace, freedom, authenticity, uncaused happiness, love, compassion, kindness towards self and others, gratitude, aliveness— and sparkly eyes!
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