“My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think or of my opinions.” ~ Eartha Kitt
I just got off the phone with my sister.
She witnessed a terrible injustice today in her job as a social worker.
I look over at my daughter—so small, fragile and dependent upon protection despite her sassy, can-do attitude—and I’m struck square in the chest with the forceful realization that these types of injustices occur daily and hourly and over and over again.
And I might not be able to help (Lord knows my sister tries). I might not even be able to keep my own child safe (although not for lack of effort and perseverance), and this sickens me.
Yet, as I glance towards her curly hair and soft, peach-pink skin and large, intelligent, kind eyes, I see my success as a human being—in her tiny person, my whole life is given more meaning than every “A” that I earned in college or every mile that I pushed myself through when I ran or any amount of success that my writing will bring me.
Because the most important thing in a recipe for success is two-fold.
Initially, we need more than goals. We need hopes and dreams and sandcastles in the sky to build foundations underneath—and then we have to be open to the flowing, swirling, mutable way that life unfolds despite our best laid groundwork.
My own hopes and dreams have a fundamentally unchanged core, but much of what I want changes as I give myself permission to grow and shift and, in short, become wiser.
So, for me, my starter recipe for success looks something like this (you know, like a starter for bread dough…I digress):
A well-rounded cup of imagination.
We are at our best when we are inquisitive and capable of understanding that there is more to unearth than what we’ve been given to work with.
Several dashes of humor.
Maintaining a sense of humor gives us the confident foundation to stay malleable enough to go with life’s twists and turns—and fun is absolutely part of the successful journey.
Copious amounts of self-love.
Yes, love in general is grand, but true love begins with loving ourselves.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve treated yourself with love, then take the baby step of having a gentler inner voice (the way that you would speak to a young child or a beloved friend).
A handful of fire.
I’m a nice person. Sincerely, I am. However, my recipe calls also for the ability to stand firmly and tenaciously when I need to in my own convictions.
A pinch of cynicism.
Because it’s okay to insist on looking outside of the box and it’s more than okay to question and stay curious.
A shake or two of money.
We need money to live. As a chakra enthusiast, I often keep within the back pocket of my mind that my spiritual self is nurtured and nourished by an equally practical self that wants to care for my basic human needs.
(You know, that whole a tree has roots thing.)
A hunk of willing to get dirty.
And I don’t mean playing dirty or anything undesirable. Rather, we do need to remember that if we want to hang out in sandcastles in the clouds, that someone has to get a little mussy building that foundation.
A couple smidgens of forgiveness.
Successful people will fall. More, they expect to fall and to fail.
It’s wonderful to have the aforementioned fire and tenacity to get back up, but it’s even better to forgive yourself for not living up to expectations.
One thing that I find helpful is to recognize that my falls are teaching tools and learning experiences towards my larger success rather than simple, unnecessary set-backs and obstacles.
And your recipe might ask for varying amounts of these ingredients, but that’s the best part about being a master chef—you can create your own new, brilliant—and previously unknown—recipes.
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Photo credit: thephotographymuse/Flickr.
This article was first published by elephant journal.