While pondering life, love, the universe, and the meaning of life, it led me to wonder how one can measure whether their life is lived with success. Achieve great things? Drive the Curiosity on Mars? Make a new discovery? Accumulate wealth? Devote oneself to charity or religion? Since I’d already decided failure is not an option, I felt the need to define success.
How do you define success and the meaning in life?
While perusing some old books on my shelf, I happened upon this passage by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
What is success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affections 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;
That is to have succeeded.
A beautiful definition, so simple in theory, yet so difficult to achieve.
In my job as a nurse, I get the opportunity to make a person’s life easier every day. To make a difference, give them a positive experience in scary circumstances, and end my shift knowing that person breathed easier because I lived. That’s a tall order. It’s hard to keep your game face on every day when you’re overworked, tired, haven’t eaten, or feel stress from home. But every time I walk into a patient’s room, I know I have the power to make a difference. I must succeed. Failure is not an option. If I can’t accomplish this, then I will have failed my patient, the patient’s family, and myself.
Another item I’m working on is appreciating beauty. My view from the hilltop is spectacular. Each day brings a display of light over the mountain view unlike any day before it. I’ve learned to sit and watch the changing perspectives, solely for the sake of appreciating the beauty around me.
The rest: working on it.