Redefining Success

We live in a world filled with fear.

We are all afraid of death and sickness to varying degrees. Our own and those we care about.

There’s fear that makes us passive, stuck in our ways. There’s fear that fuels hate.

And there’s fear that acts as a double weapon. It gets us to stay cramped up in our little corner and fills us with hate.

Hate for ourselves.

It’s a fear arguably worse than death.

Being afraid of life and what good it can give us.  

It’s scary to believe there are opportunities for us out there. What if we go out in the world and never find any?

What then?

What if we never find any opportunity for love? Work? Fulfillment?

No possibilities for happiness.

It’s true that some roads are better left non-explored. In the wild jungle that is human experience on this planet, some paths do turn out to be full of venomous creatures.

However, there are no stories of triumph and great adventures without an exotic creepy crawly or two.

Life is not a story book. I know.

I’m not going to turn into Jane from the jungle anytime soon but the writer in me can’t ever drain life of it’s potential for imagination.

The truth is we all carry our own story of how we will be successful one day and what our life will be like then.

For some of us that book may be accumulating dust in a closet deep down in the basement but it still exists.

Maybe your success story might as well have been written on toilet paper because you only ever think about it when your life gives you crap.

When everything seems to be going wrong, you think “wouldn’t it be great to have a better place, better job, better everything?”

“To finally write that book and have it become a best-seller or get rid of everything and go on that world-tour trip who you know will change your life?”

Then when things get better you just forget about it all. I mean who cares about toilet paper besides for the moment where you really need it.

Success is the realization of all our wildest dreams for most people. It’s this grand thing that we don’t know how to get to.

I want to be a successful writer but I’m terrified of failing. On most days I feel like I should write directly on toilet paper, that’s how terrible I find my writing.

The truth is I’m already successful because I’m working on it no matter what.

I have decided today to redefine success.

I say the moment we stop being fearful of what we cannot do and achieve, success has already been reached.

What do you think?

What is your definition of success?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: jm3 on Flickr flickr Creative Commons 2.0

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The Ex-Vegan Conundrum

Will I ever be an ex-vegan?

That’s a question I’ve been pondering on these past few days.

My short answer is no.

My long answer is this very post.

Obviously no one knows what the future holds. Humans have the (sometimes aggravating) capacity of changing their mind and evolving. It’s part of what makes us very unique animals.

Our ability to think, reason and exercise compassion is at the root of the very decision to become vegan.

For some reason that I find very hard to understand, that same ability is also responsible for people going back on their convictions.

I have spoken briefly about this in my Breaking Up with Veganism post but I feel it’s worth mentioning again, in the U.S the number of ex-vegans/vegetarians is 5 times greater than the number of current adherents to the lifestyle.

The vegan movement is clearly better at bringing people on board than keeping them in their ranks.

A lot can be said of those who abandon the vegan ship. Often not so nice things are expressed about them by the community that welcomed them with open arms in their pre-vegan days.

This chastising of ex-members is seen as cult-like and it’s not hard to figure out why.

The “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” and “you were never really part of us to begin with if you quit” doesn’t look good for any organization.

There is a common theme in the vegan community of brushing former members away on the basis of “you were never really vegan if you quit; you were just plant-based”.

Of course there is some truth to that but it’s an oversimplification that doesn’t explain everything and all cases.

Yes some people were in it purely for health reasons. It’s easy to understand why they quit if they feel their health is compromised.

It’s however harder or impossible to grasp how the most ethically focused and militant vegans out there suddenly turn their backs on the animals.

This is the real ex-vegan conundrum.    

The fact that somewhere down the line our ethics and moral choices can change.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, it is human to evolve.

Our moral compass can change.

Truth is, like a real compass, it can be affected by many variables.

I believe the main one to be survival.

Humans and non-humans animals have an inherent will to survive. We can be violent, aggressive and downright murderous if need be.

If we feel we need to I should say.

At some point a vegan re-evaluates his/her choices in light of some new belief that they are in danger. True or imagined it doesn’t matter.

Their health may be declining, their circle of friends shunning them or whatever else. The important point is that they are stuck weighing their own survival and well-being against another creature’s.

The big question is: if someone believes intently that going back to eating animal products will help them survive or improve their quality of life and also believes that it is wrong to do so, when does convictions break?

When is the breaking point appropriate?

For my own life my answer is: never.

Even if for some reason I came to be in such a position with such beliefs in my head, I wouldn’t do it.

It’s an extreme position and very possibly a seemingly unwise one but I simply can’t imagine just giving up.

I don’t care if being put on this planet is supposed to mean that I should survive at all cost. I don’t care if everything and everyone I see only care about themselves.

I would rather reject nature and what it means to live on this planet if my only option is causing death and suffering.

In the end, I don’t blame people for thinking differently.

It’s a hard world we live in.

What do you think?

Do you see yourself ever being an ex-vegan?

Are you an ex-vegan?

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: Marco Bellucci flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Animals as Family Members

I stumbled upon an article this week about a judge’s ruling in a divorce case in which the defendants fought over custody of their dog.

The judge decried the whole matter saying it was an outrageous loss of judicial resources. His exact words were that it was “wasteful” and “demeaning” to bring such a dispute to court.

The court ruled in short that:

Dogs are property and not family; thus fighting over visitation rights is pointless. 

Dogs were relegated to the same status as butter knives in a divorcing couple’s drawer.

The scary thing is I didn’t make this up. The judge actually used the butter knives example in his 15 pages decision ruling.

“Am I to make an order that one party have interim possession of [for example] the family butter knives but, due to a deep attachment to both butter and those knives, order that the other party have limited access to those knives for 1.5 hours per week to butter his or her toast?”

The whole thing is grossing me out so much that I’ve been thinking about it all day.

The “dogs are wonderful creatures but it’s still just a dog” saying rings true to so many people. You’ll see if you scroll down the comments.

It seems like even the most esteemed animals can’t catch a break.

If pets are on the same level as kitchen utensils, merely cared for out of sentimentality and practicality, I don’t know how all other animals ever stand a chance.

The truth is and I’m sure a lot of people can relate, the animals that we share our existence with are not inanimate objects. Sure we care deeply for them but not because of everything they add to our life. (Although the cuddles are always nice)

But because of the relationship we form with them.

You can’t interact with your possessions. And no Siri doesn’t count.

A lot of people say animals are our friends.

But to me, animals can and are family.

What do you think?

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.

 

*Photo Credit: University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Get Rid of Things You Don’t Have

I don’t know about you but the start of a new year always puts things in a different perspective for me.

I’m more motivated to reach my goals, I’m driven and full of this renewed zest for life that the start of a new year seems to inevitably bring.

All this is well and good.

However, there’s another thing that starting a new year always brings me, one that is less great.

The feeling of needing things.

That craving for all the things I don’t have yet.

Maybe it’s a by-product of all the holiday gifts I got that I love but didn’t know I needed before I actually got them. I don’t know.

I’m a minimalist at heart and I have very few things (compared to other North American people that is) but I still have too many -must haves- occupying my mind’s space.

It may seem inconsequential but the time I use dreaming of those things I want is actually detrimental to me.

People often say that the only way to get what we want, whether it is a specific object or an intangible goal is to focus on it with an eagle like obsession.

I’m all for vision boards and other derivatives but I have come to realize that having them can be dangerous. Staring in the face everyday what we don’t have yet is focusing on what we lack.

I don’t want to be obsessed with what I don’t possess. I want to feel the abundance of what life has already given me.

Getting rid of our material possessions may be hard but losing the mindset of always wanting is a lot harder.

There’s a lot of things I want for myself this year, material and non-material. However I cannot be focused on my goals if I’m constantly working with an image of all the things I want in the back of my mind.

So I have come to a logical conclusion.

In 2017 I am going to start getting rid of all the things I don’t have.

Who’s with me?

Do you have wants and desires that keep you from enjoying the here and now?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: Keoni Cabral flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Will You Take a Leap in 2017?

Jumping over something with great force and with great height is terrifying. That’s why we call it “taking a leap of faith”.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my gymnastics days it’s exactly that.

When your one goal is to spring over a stationary object that’s almost taller than you and the only way to ever succeed is to run towards it at full speed, let’s just say you quickly understand the meaning of the expression.

Pros always make it look easy.

The truth is there are a lot of things to consider before taking what seems like a leap of faith.

There is a long moment of contemplation usually.

One has to decide which feet should go first. Then there is the question of how far away one should be before they start running.

I personally always felt better taking a few steps back before attempting anything.

Then there is the dreaded run. Confidence is high for the first few strides but the closer you get to the vault, it gets lower and lower until you either stop to run or slow down so much that jumping over is impossible.

After failing over and over to get any height from the springboard, you learn that having a good hurdle is primordial.

Ironically, a hurdle in common speak refers to a difficulty. In gymnastics it’s the name we give to the final step before performing a skill.


The beginning of a new year can feel very much like standing at the start line waiting to perform a very hard trick.

 We have a goal in front of us, the only way to get to it is by rushing towards it full speed. It’s tempting to take a step back before launching ourselves forward. Once we start actually getting somewhere we lose our confidence.

We sell ourselves short by stopping altogether or chugging along unenthusiastic-ally, making our accomplishments non-existent or non-impressive.

Every time we fail and try again we get a little more experience in facing obstacles.


 In gymnastics and in life, one day we eventually get the steps right.

A bad hurdle or hurdles don’t get in our way. We have force and height.

It seems like we will get exactly what we want. A perfect landing or that perfect career or whatever else.

It can all come crashing down.

Because even when you’ve mastered the hurdle, stuff like this still happens.

The key is getting back to the start time and time again.

Some day you may reach perfection but remember you’ll have to do it all over again. And again.

Better start working on your hurdle people!

I wish you all a happy New Year and if you happen to fall on your butt in 2017, laugh it off and start again.

What are your goals for 2017?

Are you going to be taking a leap of faith this year?

I’d love to know in the comments.

 

*Photo Credit: Araí Moleri Riva-Zucchelli flickr Creative Commons 2.0