How Do You Measure
Our frustrated friend
was pulling weeds and not having a good time. She would pull a
dandelion and the root would break off. She knew that from the fraction
of a root a new weed would grow. She felt like a failure each time she
pulled and failed to get the whole root. With that perspective, she
didn’t like to pull weeds and would tend to avoid doing it.
As the dandelions continued to grow, her lawn became a reminder to her
that she was a person prone to failure. Worse than that, it supported
her tendency to label herself as a failure.
Our friend had made an
enemy out of a plant that has evolved over millions of years
to propagate and persist in open grassy spaces. Its root is supposed to
break off when some beast tries to uproot it. Her failure to capture
the whole root was natural, and from the point of view of the plant,
the way it should be. She had defined her failure based on unrealistic
Another friend said
recently, “We depressed people tend to have a broad
definition of failure and a narrow definition of success.”
If I pull a weed and the root breaks off, I have failed.
That’s a broad definition of failure. If your definition of
success is that there are no more dandelions growing in my yard and
none will grow back, that’s a narrow definition of success,
and good luck with that.
If we are going to play
the game of success vs. failure, we had best define the rules
realistically. Wouldn’t life be more fun if we could have a
broader definition of success? If your idea of success is impossible to
attain, you will probably give up. On the other hand, if your
definition of success is too broad, you may lose interest in the game.
It is a game after all.
If we want to, we can
step out of the game. We can recognize that our definitions of success
and failure are made up. There is no absolute need to have a
weed free lawn. It may be a cultural norm in some places, but it is not
an unvarying rule. There is no rule that one has to have a lot of money
or have a certain body shape or be famous. Some people define success
in those ways. It’s a choice. At least it is a
choice if one is conscious that one is choosing.
What would it be like to
live without defining success or failure? What would your life be like
if you lived beyond those definitions?
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