What is success?

Living Yoga Poetry Yoga

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

When I Am Among the Trees

Class Readings Poetry

Chris Yakimov

A friend shared this poem on Facebook this morning. As we move into Spring, it reminds me how wonderful it is to spend more time outdoors and in the woods.

When I Am Among the Trees
By Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”



The Summer Day

Class Readings Poetry

I came across a copy of this poem by Mary Oliver in a stack of papers I was sorting through. Even though it is called The Summer Day, it feels fitting for this January day.

The Summer Day
By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?