What is success?

sarah jamieson yoga

I was recently inspired by the powerful and poetic definition of success Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley presents in this poem:


To laugh often and love much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

(Source: Start Something That Matters, by Blake Mycoskie, p.vi)

I want to write my own definition of success so I can act with integrity in my pursuit of it. (Also, it is often easier to get somewhere when you’ve clarified where you want to go.) I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and critique. I want this definition to evolve with time, experience, and discussion.

Success: My Story of It

To speak the truth; to seek awareness and understanding; and
To compassionately care for the well-being of all living creatures;

To move with grace; to be at peace in the mystery;
To choose discomfort over resentment and
To be vulnerable;

To share the story of my heart and
to care for the hearts of others;

To cultivate a playful, curious, and generous spirit;
To seek beauty and to spend time in the trees;
To embody love;

To find the peace in the present moment,
the laughter in the midst of sorrow,
and the joy in the struggle;

To act with integrity; to stand against injustice, and
To be able to look future generations in the eye and say,
“I took care.”

To live honourably amongst a village.
This is to have succeeded.

What does success mean to you?


Photo Credit: Chris Yakimov

Living Yoga Poetry Yoga


  1. jane says:

    To have had a small part in the raising and development of a daughter who has such a very kind, loving and compassionate heart. success

  2. moshe says:

    Hi Sarah, I love your post 🙂
    Especially I connect with the 2nd & 3rd verses, and the one before last.
    Defining Success is a very important part of yoga practice! I’m not sure how it goes by the limbs an’ all, but I call it HAPPINESS, and that is success for me.
    Keep up the good work!

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks, Moshe!

    I see defining what success means in two different practices:

    Svadhyaya – self-study
    Brahmacharya – wise use of energy

    But, I also see the entire practice of yoga as a pursuit of joy, so I think we are on the same page!

    Be well,

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