Sometimes we suffer from thinking we’ve failed when in fact we are a success. Isn’t this a strange idea at this point in history in western culture? If those of us from the west know anything at all, it’s the difference between success and failure. We are all products of a success obsessed culture driven by the wealthiest economy in the history of the planet. We know personal success! Don’t we?
Maybe not. We know personal ideal, personal best, and personal achievement, but these are all quite different from personal success. Personal success is something we cant know about until the end of our lives. Personal success is about things other than stellar careers, setting records, bank accounts, world travel, waist size, level of education, beautiful homes, or even succeeding in a marriage.
Personal success is about how much we’ve given, not how much we’ve done or how much we’ve gotten. Personal success is about doing no harm to others, forgiveness, compassion, gratitude and generosity.
I read this today, “…when we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, we are reminded that our highest destiny is to face life’s pains and prevail, over and over again.” Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Beverly Hills, California.
He continued, “Stamina, not giftedness, is the most precious attribute of character. Resilience is the strain of spiritual DNA that distinguishes those who build lives of purpose and beauty.”
I wonder what would be different in western culture if stamina, resilience, and facing life’s pains were the earmarks of achievement instead of money, looks, instant rewards, power, and celebrity.
Rabbi Wolpe wrote more about a hero from another time, Helen Keller. Miss Keller, who was both deaf and blind, but learned to communicate and became world renown as an educator and a pioneer in advocating for people with disabilities. According to Rabbi Wolpe, Helen Keller taught that “the world is full of suffering, but also the overcoming it.”
Many people struggling with disease, hunger, loneliness, homelessness, heart break, unemployment and the possible loss of hope meet each new day with the resolve to continue on (stamina) and offer themselves in service and love to others (resilience). They meet their bad luck with patience and humor. The way of it is that this saintly behavior does nothing to eliminates their struggles, yet they must have some kind of knowingness that their highest destiny (and ours) requires, as Helen Keller said, “the overcoming of it.”
Whenever despair gives way to laughter, happiness, love and forgiveness is a moment of high destiny. When you can prevail over life’s pains and allow peace to break through in this way the Angels applaud you and the rest of us are grateful for your courage, stamina, resilience, and gifts of love.
As we head into the fall season, holidays for some and the transition into the creative hibernation of colder weather for all, may we think on prevailing over and over again in the face of life’s pains and summon more and more stamina and resilience towards achieving our highest destiny.