You might have your own definition of success. Success is more than making money. Success is more than being recognized in a career. It’s about being happy. It’s about liking who you are. It’s about having loving relationships. But if you are successful in a career and don’t have time to share your success with loved ones, you are missing out on one of the joys of life. With your busy lifestyle, you wonder how you can find that balance.

1. How you start your day sets the tone for the day. If you start the day in a hurry it’s extremely difficult to slow down. What I have seen is that most people wake up in the morning--rush out of the house, trying to make an appointment or deadline. Underneath their concern that they won’t be able to get it all done, is an underlying anxiety. Perhaps you feel the same way. You sometimes wish you had a magic wand that could make things different.”

Although there is no magic wand there is a morning practice that if implemented can change your life. After you wake up and before you do anything else, take 10-15 minutes for reflection. Perhaps you already have a meditation practice. If you don’t, just sit still and pay attention to your breathing.

After ten minutes or so, begin to focus on what you are grateful for. Perhaps there might be only a few things that you can think of in the beginning, but once you make this part of your daily practice, you’ll realize how blessed you are. By focusing on what you are grateful for, you shift your focus from what’s wrong about your life to what’s right. It’s an amazing practice, which has the power to transform your life.

Then by wondering about what the highlight of your day might be, you create a positive expectation as the day progresses. Briefly scan what you have to do during the day with that focus in mind. Of course you’re always open to those pleasant surprises… those moments of grace that uplift your spirit. It might just be for a moment or two but you are totally present in that moment.

2. Learn how to recognize and know your VOJ. The VOJ is that voice of judgment that drives you nuts. You would give anything to silence it for a few minutes. The sooner that you can recognize your VOJ, the sooner you can become free of the hypnotic spell that can last a lifetime if you don’t do anything about it. Doubting and self-criticism become the norm. But the doing is a different type of doing. It’s just noticing when the VOJ raises its voice. Simply by recognizing it, you break the spell. I have found that giving this voice a name is most effective in breaking the spell. I call my VOJ, Ralph. This is a lifelong challenge so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight.

3. Self-Acceptance is the next secret. Let’s be honest with ourselves. There are certain things we can’t change about ourselves. We can’t change who are parents are. We can’t change our country of origin. We can’t change all of the injustices in the world. We can try. But we can change, although challenging, how we think about ourselves and our circumstances. And we can change, although challenging, how we think about our bodies. Even though we are our own worst critics, our work is to accept those things that we don’t like about ourselves. It’s the acceptances of these attitudes and beliefs that is so freeing.

4. Introduce positive self-talk (VIP) into the conversation. Now that you are more familiar with those voices and patterns that have been running your life, it’s time to listen to a new voice that needs to be nurtured and cultivated. It’s a voice if honored and respected can change how you think about yourself. I call this voice your VIP. It’s the voice of Inspiration and Praise that we don’t listen to or hear enough. That voice, that I call Buddy is my inner champion. When I think that I shouldn’t have felt the way I did about something that happened or that I shouldn’t have acted in a certain way, Buddy sends me a few words of encouragement. He says to me, “you’re doing great. You handled that well.”

It takes conscious effort and resolve to cultivate your VIP. As you learn to trust and listen to it, how you feel about your life will shift. 
Our work is to create more points of light that inspire us and make us feel good

5. Make time for the Jollies. So here we are again with another new phrase. No I haven’t lost my mind. We all have our share of challenges that concern us from time to time; some more challenging than others. Some of us feel overwhelmed by all that we are faced with. Even though life might be like that for you, there are still a lot of things that have given you joy at one time or the other. They might be little things that you have forgotten about. Lately I have made time for tennis. I forgot how much fun playing tennis is. The same thing for dancing. Going dancing is always a lot of fun especially as I get better. The Jollies is taking the time to do what gives you joy. So when I say make time for the jollies…I mean make time for what gives you “joy.” Those things that you have to do or that you are concerned about, don’t go away. Even when your “to do” list has plenty of things on it and you still have loose ends in your life, still make time for the jollies whatever they are for you. In the beginning it might take effort, but it wlll have a profound effect on the quality of your life.

6. Smile and laugh a little bit more than yesterday. Most of us are too serious. I was certainly that way. Once you accept those things about yourself that you used to be embarrassed by, there is no question that you will be lighter. And isn’t that what it’s all about--becoming lighter.

When I was younger I thought about becoming enlightened. Enlightenment was the carrot that kept me going on my spiritual quest. With family and career my focus shifted. Even though I stopped thinking about enlightenment it still popped up from time to time. So I have come up with my definition that works for me. It means to “lighten up.” When you do, you have less stress, better health and more fun. I’m not suggesting for you to go out there and perform standup comedy, but see what happens if you tell a joke once in a while. Becoming more playful is a worthy challenge and a gift to all who are in your presence.

You know I love to hear from you. Feel free to share this message with those in your circle.

Journey On


Author's Bio: 

Mark Susnow, is an executive-life coach and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney and musician for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his former career he was covered by The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, Boston Globe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

He is the author of Dancing on the River: Navigating Life’s Changes. Most recently he has written Discover the Leader Within.