“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything
other than a successful present moment.” Eckhart Tolle
Success can be a tricky concept. We all have definitions of what that constitutes, and I bet most of us feel like we fall short.
Many people equate success with money and status. How much money do we have to earn (or have in the bank or in assets) in order to feel like we’re a success? Then there’s status. Does our definition include working in a high-powered, highly esteemed career? We might even have physical appearance criteria in our picture of success, which could include a certain weight, body shape, size or height. (Too bad for me! 🙂 )
And although most of us acknowledge that the definition should include inner peace, health, and loving relationships, it’s often lip service. Sure, they’re important, but does the world actually respect and value such non-tangibles?
I ask these questions because my ego has grappled with them for years. And then I saw that quote when I re-read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It resonated strongly with me, becoming an instant game-changer for my sense of success: “Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.”
If a present moment is filled with irritation, disappointment, doubt, worry, or anger, it doesn’t matter if we’re rich, attractive and powerful. That’s pure misery—the opposite of success.
So now I declare this precise, humble moment a success. I appreciate being in a position to share what’s on my heart. I gratefully take a sip of tea as I look out my window this June day, and thank my lucky stars that my loved ones and I are safe, healthy and alive.
My life is rich and successful beyond measure when I factor in the value of you, my inner circle; my husband and children; my immediate and extended family and network of friends; and that we are all generally healthy, well, and living in peace and relative prosperity in one of the world’s greatest countries.
Believing this doesn’t mean I always feel successful. Old habits die hard, and my ego still likes to challenge and belittle me, so I have to remind myself of this often. Raising a bright and strong-minded teen (and being married to a bright and strong-minded man!), it can be challenging to value the success of each eye-rolling moment. But there’s great treasure even then—I just have to dig a little deeper to unearth it!
Wishing you countless successful present moments, today and forever. Bask in your success, and don’t let anyone define you otherwise.
Purely Practical Tip
Breathe. Slowly, gently, and consciously. It’s harder than it sounds. Our attention is so scattered, our environment so full of visual and auditory clutter, that even focusing our minds on a few attentive breaths can be a challenge. Try to take in 5-10 deep, mindful breaths. It’s harder than you think, but well worth the effort: You’ll feel more calm, less stress, and an overall enhanced experience of your successful present moment! 🙂
Practicing The Power of Now is a condensed version of Tolle’s book, and a great intro to this author and spiritual teacher.
Join the Conversation
What makes you feel successful? Can you recommend any books, resources or quotes that encourage this line of thinking?
This is Tiana’s personal favourite. It’s a fair bit of prep work, but darn delicious. I usually set this meal up as a salad bar so everyone can customize their salads. Any leftovers I combine to eat for lunch the next day, reserving the dressing on the side or else the noodles will absorb it all. Amazing served with hot fresh crispy tofu!
4-6 GF ramen noodle cakes (I use Lotus millet and brown rice brand from Costco)
olive or grapeseed oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds (roasted)
3/4 cup grated or julienned carrots
1 cup edamame
1 sweet bell peppers, sliced or diced however you want it
1-3 Green onions, finely sliced on a diagonal for aesthetics 🙂
Fresh chopped cilantro, if desired
4 Tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 small-medium cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger (or to taste)
1-2 Tbsp. natural smooth peanut butter (optional, if you like peanut flavour)
2 tsp. sugar or maple syrup (or to taste)
Cook noodles according to instructions, just until al dente. Then rinse with cold water and put aside.
Meanwhile, roast the sweet potato. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put the sweet potato rounds in a bowl, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then flip them and roast for 5 minutes more, until lightly browned.
To make the dressing, put all ingredients into a small jar with a lid and shake well. (If you have a mini food processor, use that). Adjust for saltiness, acid and sweetness as you wish. Note: garlic flavour will develop as the dressing sits!
Heat and drain Edamame beans if you like them warm, or simply thaw and rinse them if you like them cold. Set aside.
Before serving, rinse and drain the noodles again. Put into a bowl and drizzle with some of the dressing and a bit more oil if needed so noodles don’t stick together. Let the family make their own creations with whichever veggies they prefer, or toss the noodles with all the fresh veggies. Top with green onions, cilantro and additional dressing.
Even Derek likes this. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and amazing with the Asian noodle salad or just as a delicious protein aside roasted veggies.
Grape seed or preferred oil for pan-frying the tofu
1 brick firm or extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2 – 3/4” cubes
1/3+ cup cornstarch (just guessing here: you need enough to coat all the tofu)
sea salt, to taste
Put cubes of tofu onto a sheet of paper towel and press with another paper towel on top to blot wetness.
Combine cornstarch and enough salt for some decent flavour. Place cubes of tofu in a large ziplock bag and sprinkle on a generous amount of salted cornstarch. Gently toss/shake the tofu so all the pieces get coated. Remove pieces and place in a colander, gently shaking to remove excess cornstarch. Place in a pre-heated pan with a generous amount of oil and pan fry on medium-low heat until pale gold and crispy. Turn over pieces and repeat. They will be very pale golden and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Repeat batches until you’ve crisped up all the tofu, adding more oil if necessary.
“Negative thoughts and tensions are like birds: We cannot stop them from flying near us, but we can certainly stop them from making a nest in our mind.” Rishika Jain
You’re probably scratching your head at the title of this conversation. We know that dwelling on problems doesn’t help.
But knowing that ruminating is unproductive doesn’t mean we don’t do it anyway. It’s hard to stop, especially when we’re going through difficult circumstances. Even when life is relatively fine, we soul-searchers tend to fixate on our thoughts. Whether our issues are trivial or legitimately painful, obsessing about them interferes with our ability to enjoy the present moment. So how can we stop?
The answer is, we can’t. So if we can’t stop entirely, we can at least give our worry time some parameters. Like designating time each day to ruminate. Read more
“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.” Author unknown
One of the fringe benefits of this pandemic is that it has significantly reduced the frenzy that ruled our pre-pandemic lives. One of the downsides? An increase in screen-time!
Online video meetings have replaced many of our previous in-person gatherings: doctor’s appointments, family events, birthday parties, book clubs, dance and sports classes, playdates for our kids, and even school continues to be at least partly on-line.
Ya’ll know my opinions on screen-time. Of course our devices aren’t inherently evil, but the overwhelming majority of apps and software ARE designed with the intent to get us seriously hooked. One line from The Social Dilemma sums this up perfectly: “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” So it’s not a stretch when I say to my kids, in exasperation, that they’re acting like they’re on crack when I threaten to take away their iPad or phone.
The vast majority of our family’s conflicts revolve around devices. At times I think it would be so much easier if I just let them gorge on their addiction. My mom even gently questioned me recently, “What’s the harm? At least they’re at home and you know they’re safe.”
Except they’re not safe, and there is a lot of harm. Let’s skip the whole issue of dangerous online predators, and consider how detrimental the digital world can be. Time ON our devices means time AWAY from rich, meaningful activities. This means less time to exercise, invest in our relationships, read, engage in rich conversations, give undivided attention to our loved ones or to be outdoors.
Which is why I went on a quiet retreat with my girls last weekend. Tiana and Chelsea knew there would be no screen time, and WOW did I meet some powerful resistance. But the result of our 47-hour retreat? Sweet, simple success!!!
We went for walks, played games, enjoyed creative time journaling and painting, read by the fire (they even asked me to read my book aloud to them!), roasted marshmallows, listened to our favourite Christmas music, and had lots of cuddles. We ate simple, delicious yet nourishing meals. When they saw that I brought a string of Christmas lights to drape over the mantle, they both actually squealed with joy. We enjoyed every beautiful present moment for the whole weekend, since we weren’t waiting for the next digital fix.
As I write this, my girls’ screen-time has returned to business as usual. Sigh. But I’ve booked our next retreat in 9 weeks, and my goal is to reserve one day a week to device-free-family-time, starting next Sunday.
I look forward to forgetting to check our phones again.
Watch The Social Dilemma. It’s disheartening, enlightening and empowering all at once, and I bet you’ll be inspired to make changes to your and your family’s current consumption of screen-time.
Want to go on your own family retreat? Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island generously lets guests pay by donation. It is Christian-based yet open to all, regardless of faith.
Join the Conversation
What screen-time issues or solutions have you experienced? What works, and what doesn’t? If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently about your or your kids’ use of devices?
“I’m at that stage in life where I keep myself out of unnecessary arguments.
Even if you tell 1+1=5, you’re absolutely correct. Enjoy.” Author unknown
There’s so much potential for conflict right now.
Even though we’re in Canada, the recent Trump vs. Biden election continues to be a hot topic. Almost inseparable from the elections are regular hot-topics like religion, abortion and Covid. As measures increase to slow down the influx of Covid, we’re seeing our spectrum of freedoms being compromised, leading to more dissent. There seem to be vigilante sentries everywhere: on hiking trails, in malls, in the media. One extreme complains that we’re recklessly compromising public safety, while the other side complains that we’re being too paranoid and passive about our rights being eroded by a pseudo-communist regime.
I’ve had some interesting conversations with some of you about these hot topics. We don’t always share the same opinions, but at least we remain respectful and curious enough to hear each other’s points of view.
This isn’t the case with everyone. And in those situations, when I sense a wall of rigid ignorance being mounted before an honest conversation takes off, I try to think of today’s quote. I’d rather stay out of the argument, perhaps gently encourage some fact checking, and deftly redirect the conversation to more neutral territory.
One of my dearest friends recently said that she’s “going to pray for these things more than talk about them.” I think that’s a great option. We don’t need to prove to our egos that we’re “right.” What do we win, anyway, if we “win” a fight with a friend or loved one: Resistance, conflict, humiliation on one or both sides? Doesn’t sound like victory to me.
Here’s hoping we have a week of peace, laughter and gratitude amidst the heaviness out there. There is much to smile and laugh about. Let’s attract it!
Purely Practical Tip
For peace of mind, check out your own facts on reputable fact checking sites. I found this list helpful.
Join the Conversation
How are you staying peaceful and sane these days? What brings you laughter and joy amidst all the Covid restrictions?