What matters most?
When I was in college, my answer to that question was God, my mind, my friends and family, and my health, in that order. While in some ways I still like that answer, I’ve got to tell you that those priorities did not by themselves enable me to live well. In fact I was a pretty miserable person.
I suppose every person has to answer that question subjectively. Still science is beginning to be able to tell us objectively what it means to live well.
One of the founders of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, has come up with an acronym for five essentials to well being, PERMA: positive emotion, engagement (i.e., of our attention), positive relationships, meaning, and achievement.
Where is your practice taking you? What do you practice, and why?
From the time we begin our formal education till the time we’ve finished with it, the focus of our practice tends to be on the last piece of well being, that is, on accomplishment. We study hard to get good grades, to go to a good school, to get a good job. We run and lift weights to be stronger and faster, to be the best at our position on the team, etc.
Competition can make us better. It can make us beautiful, and it can make us ugly. It can lead to a win at all costs mentality epitomized by Lance Armstrong.
Remember your humanity. Your practice should in some way touch on all the five essentials. Take care of your emotions, pursue those ideas and skills you are passionate about, cultivate positive relationships, and build meaning from your faith into your work and community.
By so doing your practice will make you a blessing to those around you, and you in turn will be blessed as well. You will have transcended success, and discovered happiness and significance.