CELEBRATING YOUR SUCCESS
This month, we are exploring the idea of creating a successful life - however it is you choose to define success. Over the past two weeks, we have described it in a variety of ways, but I want to give you yet another way to define it today. This definition comes from one of our New Thought giants, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said that to succeed is, "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the 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. This is to have succeeded!"a
And how beautifully this quote goes back to one of our first principles of success according to Jack Canfield in his book Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, which is our theme book for the month. That success principle was to be on purpose. And to be on purpose, two factors were important. They were: Joy and Service.b That Emerson quote just screams joy and service, doesn't it?!
And (1) when we are on purpose, (2) when we are 100% responsible for our experience and (3) when we become our own inner coaches (that was just a review of where we've been so far this month!), then we are on the road to succeeding or moving toward living from the Thomas Edison quote I've shared each Sunday. "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."c
Never able to leave well enough alone, we made this statement personal to us. Remember? We said: "If I did all the things I am capable of doing, I would literally astound myself."
And that is our goal - to astound ourselves this month! So, to support that, today we are going to explore two success principles, which I am putting under the heading of "Celebrating Success!"
PRINCIPLE 26: ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR POSITIVE PAST
In Creative Mind and Success, Religious Science founder Ernest Holmes wrote: "In order to have success, we must first conceive it in our own thoughts."d A good way to conceive it in our own thoughts is to REMEMBER it and to consciously acknowledge it!
Now, some of you might say -- what positive past!?? If I asked you to think about one success from last week, would it easily come to you? How about if I asked you to think about how you messed up last week? Did that come easier? I won't ask you to share those, but they can come to us more readily than our victories. We tend to be programmed to remember our "failures." Canfield explains why in Success Principles. He says that as we were growing up: "There was almost always more emotional intensity around your errors, mistakes, and failures than there was around your successes. Because the brain more easily remembers events that were accompanied by strong emotions, most people underestimate and underappreciate the number of successes they've had in relation to the number of failures they've had. . . . . The sad truth is that we all have many more victories than failures - it's just that we set the bar too high for what we call success."e
But, when we get real about how many successes in life we have had -and we have had them to be sure!! - we set the stage for greater and even greater success. Why is this? Because it impacts our self esteem. Canfield calls it "The Poker Chip Theory of Success" and he describes it like this: "Imagine for a moment that your self-esteem is like a stack of poker chips. Then imagine that you and I are playing a game of poker and you have 10 chips and I have 200 chips. Who do you think is going to play more conservatively in this game of poker? Yes, you are. If you lose 2 bets of 5 chips, you're out of the game. I can lose 5 chips 40 times before I'm out of the game, so I am going to take more risks because I can afford to take the losses. Your level of self-esteem works the same way. The more self-esteem you have, the more risks you are willing to take. Research has shown over and over again that the more you acknowledge your past successes, the more confident you become in taking on and successfully accomplishing new ones. You know that even if you fail, it won't destroy you, because your self-esteem is high. The more you risk, the more you win in life. The more shots you take, the more chances you have of scoring. Knowing that you have had successes in the past will give you the self-confidence that you can have successes in the future."f
So, having said that, there are two really exciting and valuable ways to acknowledge your positive past that Canfield suggests, one of which we are going to do here this morning.
First, divide your life -- however short or long it's been -- into thirds, and then list three successes you've had for each time period. Here's what I came up with for myself:
Ages 0 - 24 -
* Learned to drive a car
* Had a radio show that interviewed high school athletes.
* Fought for and got higher wages and better working conditions for the women working for Harry & David.
Ages 25 - 48 -
* Went to college in Washington State with a 4.0 GPA, while working two jobs and raising a daughter by myself.
* Found Religious Science, made a radical change in consciousness.
* Spent 1 1/2 years taking Los Angeles Housing Authority from pen and pencil to computers.
Ages 49 - 72 -
* Became an ordained minister
* Pioneered a new Religious Science church
* Started working for Unity of Castro Valley
I want us to take a few minutes this morning to actually do this exercise, because I suspect that if I give it to you as homework, it just might not get done, and I really want you to feel into this and support you in seeing how celebrating your past successes fosters and encourages future successes!
There is a handout in today's bulletin that I want you to take out right now. Divide your age into thirds and then write three things you successfully accomplished in each trimester of your life. Take a few moments to do that now.
What did that feel like?
Now, to really convince yourself that you're a successful person who can continue to achieve great things, there is a SECOND thing to do. Are you ready for it? Here it comes -- list 100 or MORE of your life successes. May have to dig deep, but do it. Get to 100! We won't do that today, but please, please, please do it! You will be amazed at how you feel after you've done it! And remember something Canfield said: "The . . . truth is that we all have many more victories than failures - it's just that we set the bar too high for what we call success."g
So don't set the bar too high for this list of 100. I'm going to give you your first five:
* You were born
* You learned to sit up
* You learned to crawl
* You learned to walk
* You learned to talk
Boom - your first 5 successes. OK, now you come up with the other 95!
Then, have this list handy - at your desk, in your office -- wherever you spend time. Let it bolster you when you're not feeling too successful or let it give you courage and confidence when you are about to begin something new and perhaps scary.
Let us now spend a couple of minutes on one other success principle today.
PRINCIPLE 53 - PRACTICE UNCOMMON APPRECIATION
How better to acknowledge success than to be grateful for where you are and to those (including yourself) who have moved you there!?
Mother Theresa once said: "There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."h
We know that like attracts like, so the more we are in a state of appreciation and gratitude, the more we will attract to be grateful for. When we are appreciating what we have instead of focusing on and complaining about what we don't have, we open ourselves to receive more of the good. It becomes an upward spiraling process of ever-increasing good that just keeps getting better and better. That's just how it works, and we know that; we just don't always practice it!
Appreciation is two-fold: self and others. You might have heard me tell this story before, but it is so powerful, it's worth sharing again!
David Casstevens, formerly of the Dallas Morning News, tells a story about Frank Szymanski, a Notre Dame center in the 1940s, who had been called in as a witness in a civil suit in South Bend, Indiana.
"Are you on the Notre Dame football team this year?" the judge asked.
"Yes, your honor," he said.
"What position?" "Center, your Honor."
"How good a center are you?"
Szymanski squirmed in his seat a moment, but then said firmly, "Sir, I'm the best center Notre ever had."
The coach, Frank Leahy, who was in the courtroom, was surprised. Szymanski had always been modest and unassuming. So when the proceedings were over, he took Szymanski aside and asked him why he had made such a bold statement. Szmanski blushed, and then said:
"I hated to do it, Coach. But, after all, I was under oath."
We should all be under oath for the rest of our lives and own the magnificent beings we are, the positive qualities we have, and the wonderful accomplishments we have achieved.
In The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes writes: "I shall not lie to myself any more, but shall daily speak the Truth to my inner Soul, telling It that It is wonderful and marvelous."i
Take the time to appreciate yourself, yes! And also take the time to appreciate others.
What if you set your intention to offer 10 appreciations to others a day? What if you recorded every time you appreciate someone and you commit to not going to bed until you have offered 10 different appreciations every day?
And, of course, what if you lived in an attitude of gratitude to the Source of all? Um? I wonder what kind of impact that would have on your life? You will never know unless you try it!
Here's what Charles Fillmore says will happen in his book Jesus Christ Heals: "Metaphysicians have discovered that words which express thanks, gratitude and praise release energy of mind and Soul; and their use is usually followed by effects so pronounced that they are quickly identified with the words that provoke them. Let your words of praise and thanksgiving be to Spirit and the increase will be even greater than when they are addressed to man. The resources of Spirit are beyond our highest flight of imagination."j
So, my friends, live your life in a state of appreciation and gratitude and celebrate your successes. These are two powerful, powerful attractors to the experiencing the life you deserve and desire to live.
Let me leave you with a story.
A new young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to help the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up. In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.
The head monk says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."
So, the head monk goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscript is held in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.
Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes downstairs to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall. His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young man asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?"
With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, "Oh, no. no. no. They got it wrong. The word . . . the word is supposed to be celebrate."
Today, let us celebrate together
aRalph Waldo Emerson
bJack Canfield Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
dCreative Mind and Success, Ernest Holmes
eJack Canfield Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be p. 195
fJack Canfield Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be p. 196
gJack Canfield Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
iErnest Holmes The Science of Mind, p. 517
jCharles Fillmore Jesus Christ Heals p. 79