Happiness Requires Aim and Action

I define the ultimate success as becoming the ideal or best version of yourself. I use the word best rather than perfect because there is no perfection. The idea of a perfect version of oneself implies that there is a point at which further progress or improvement is impossible, the destination has been reached. Perfection is unattainable precisely because there is always something we can do better or some way upon which we can improve ourselves. Nevertheless, we should never stop striving towards that perfect version of ourselves. We owe ourselves this effort because what better aim in life is there? We are all responsible above all else for ourselves. We must care ourselves before we may ever be of use to others. Becoming the ideal version of yourself, is not selfish but the most unselfish thing you can do. Being or at least striving for success in this manner not only makes you better but inspires others to effect the same change within themselves. A rising tide raises all ships.

We must not let the unattainableness of perfection stop us from striving toward that end. The worst decision of all, when it comes to how growth, is to make no decision, being content instead to remain static. It isn’t the failure to reach perfection but the failure to ever try that should be feared. Nor should we let the notion that we shall never be perfect force us into shame over our imperfection. Imperfection is the natural state of all things, thus suggesting that imperfection itself is perfection. Imperfection is not to be feared. Inaction is to be feared. In the pursuit of perfection, we must accept ourselves as we are – perfectly imperfect – and be willing to be vulnerable in our admission of this imperfection. Acceptance is key. We must accept that we are worthy of joy, happiness, and belonging right now and no matter what but we must also not let this acceptance stop us from admitting that we may become more.

This poses an oxymoronic situation in aiming for idealism and perfection, that is success, while simultaneously loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are. Acceptance means not hating yourself for your lack of perfection, it means not postponing your happiness for the arrival of perfection – something which will never be reached, but it also means accepting that we can and should aim higher. It means that we acknowledge that though we are worthy now, we can become more. Embarking on a journey of self-actualization is not a forsaking of the present state but merely the understanding that a higher state exists. Nor is it a zero-sum-game that depends on arrival at the destination of success and perfection but is instead an understanding that merely the effort of improvement, whether any may occur at all, is what matters.

In this pursuit, action is key. Change of any sort requires effort and effort requires action. It begins in the mind, for even thinking is a form of action, though it should not end with mental action alone. The process begins with the action of conceptualizing your aim. The first step should be thinking about what you are aiming for – what does success look like – without this knowledge you will not know when you have arrived, but even admitting that we will never arrive at perfection, one must still know what the success looks like if they are to discern any sort of meaningful movement towards that end. When conceptualizing what this success looks like, ask yourself who it benefits. Why is this your version of success? Does it make you a better person and will it thusly either directly or indirectly benefit others or is it purely selfish in aim? Money has been caused the root of all evil, but even wealth is not an inherently selfish goal. It is more a question of what one intends to do with that wealth as well as how they hope to achieve it. Will it be earned honestly or fairly and put to good use, or will you lie, cheat, and steal your way to amassing a fortune that you intend to spend on hedonistic pleasures for yourself only.

After conceptualizing what your vision of success looks like and why it matters to you, you must reflect on how you will achieve it. Not just the step-by-step process of waking up early, reading the necessary literature, or practicing the necessary skills, but rather more important is understanding your core guiding principles and how you will maintain them throughout your pursuit. Your pursuit of success is only a worthy action in-so-far as it you remain loyal to yourself and your values. The moment you sacrifice your values in your pursuit of the ideal self, you have missed. In this case it would be better to fall short than to persist off the proper path.

Once you have a clear picture of what the best version of you is, what success looks like, why it matters, and how you will achieve it while remaining true to yourself, there is only one step left. Action. No amount of planning for anything is worth a damn without action. Action is the hardest step of all because it requires the highest amount of vulnerability. Everything prior to this is internal and can be hidden. We are reading, we meditate, and reflect on ourselves and what we want. This is the easy part because thus far, no outward movement has been detected and we have not made ourselves vulnerable. It is at the point of action where most people fail because they are afraid. We fear what others may think of us. We feel vulnerable that we may seen making an effort and more importantly that we will be seen if we fail, and so we abort or actions or refuse to invest 100% because at least this way we can avoid being seen publicly as a failure. In this scenario we let the fear of fear itself become our biggest enemy.

To quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Fear is what stops us from acting, that most important step in our journey to success, happiness, and our ideal self. Take comfort in this: EVERYONE has fear. Every great feat of human thought and achievement was beset with fear. Who wouldn’t feel fear at the prospect of doing something daring? Change is scary because it involves the potential loss of security and comfort to which we have become accustomed. Fear was present for everyone who dared to improve themselves or the world, to make a change, whether their achievements are of legendary fame or unknown examples of everyday men and women becoming a better version of themselves. But these people did not let their fear stop them from acting. Nelson Mandela once said: “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” … Courage is not the absence of fear — it’s inspiring others to move beyond it.” Be brave. Let your action create the best version of you and in so doing inspire others to be the best version of themselves. This is why the pursuit of success matters. ALL are made better when an individual decides to shake off the burden of fear or shame and move to action.

Preparation in thought is of great importance. Think, conceptualize, evaluate, and plan – the best strategies depend on this. None of it matters without action. Do away with your fear and take action towards becoming your most successful and happiest self today. As Batman once said: “it’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” Thought, values, and morals are great, but without action you cannot begin to improve nor inspire others to begin their journey.

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