In July, Jennifer Aniston wrote an open letter about the scrutiny she has felt as a woman in the public eye. In the letter she addressed the pressures women often face about our lifestyle choices, appearance, marital status, and reproductive choices, among other issues. She also addressed toxic gossip in the media and how it affects the self esteem of all women. (The reason why I created StyleFox to be 100% gossip-free, mindful media.) The letter went viral and resonated with millions of women around the world who have felt the same scrutiny and pressures of what it means to be “successful” -especially as a woman.
We often get so caught up in what other people expect from us that we don’t even stop to assess what actually makes us happy. I came across an excerpt from Abraham Hicks the other day that perfectly sums up what it means to be “successful.”
“The standard of success in life isn’t the things. It isn’t money or stuff. It is absolutely the amount of joy that you feel.”
While success can entail many different aspects, one true indicator is your level of happiness and joy. We are so often bombarded with material ideas of success: expensive clothing, a fancy car, a big house, or even your personal relationships to other people i.e. motherhood or marriage.
However, we are not clones, so why do we assume what makes us happy as individuals will also make everyone else happy? Why do we impart cookie cutter ideals on one another? The reality is that we all have different preferences, so what makes us truly happy can greatly vary from one person to the next. It’s dangerous to believe in the notion of a “one size fits all” lifestyle. We all need to have experiences to figure out what works for us instead of assuming the status quo will make us happy.
When we focus on what actually brings us joy rather than what is expected of us, we can find true fulfillment and happiness. It’s a tragedy that so many of us give up on our dreams or choose a different life path to appease others. The problem with a self-sacrificing mentality is that you can not be your best to others if you are not first happy with yourself. So, while it may seem like a noble gesture to sacrifice your happiness for others, you are really doing a disservice to both yourself and the people in your life. That is how resentment, regret, and misery is bred. To be your best to others requires that you also be at your best.
Your success is not based on your income, your marital/motherhood status, your clothing, your appearance, your education or any other factor outside yourself. Your success is the joy that you feel.
Are you happy? Do you love the choices you have made? Then you are successful. You don’t need to make a million dollars or check off boxes on some proverbial life list. Just nurture and identify what brings you joy and fulfillment, and consider all the other stuff a bonus.