Experience Bliss

Achieve Greatness through Humility

Last Wednesday, two hours before his thirty-second birthday, Dino began to review his life so far, and think of a resolution for the year. He tracked back to the key milestones in his life, such as the successes, failures, financial gains, wrong investments, career, relationships, etc. While simultaneously evaluating the outcome of these experiences, and using the insights in order to excel further. Since his birthday was the reason for a new resolution, he contemplated the subjects of aging and death as well. The key question was, “When I die, what would I like people to remember me for?”. Dino began to recall the memories of his relatives who had passed away. The lives of a few of these individuals were truly inspiring, while others were the complete opposite. This lead him to create a new definition of a successful life.

A majority of us define and acknowledge a successful life based on academic achievements – were we accepted at prestigious universities, careers – did we pursue careers at the top firms in the industry or run a successful business, relationships – have we settled down with a wealthy, attractive, and intelligent spouse, having raised our children to be the best in this competitive world, and most importantly, wealth accumulation. The definition of a successful life was similar among all the relatives that passed away and those who are still alive, except for one attribute – Greatness.

Without a doubt, certain individuals have lead a successful life based on the common definition, however, how many of them could be labeled as “Great”? Everyone struggles to achieve their goals, and persistently overcome challenges while using those experiences to climb the ladder of success and build a reputation for themselves. Unfortunately, very often, this success leads to pride , arrogance, and a sense of separation from others who do not fit into their definition of success. This is when such individuals lose any potential of attaining the title of “Greatness”.

According to Dino, a great human being is one who may have achieved all the material success that he/she desired, while cultivating humility and empowering others. As we gain experience in life, we are offered more responsibilities and opportunities, which grant us the power to make a difference in the lives of others. How we choose to use this power, is what truly defines our greatness. Unfortunately, some individuals with the right intentions are lacking the power to execute them, while others with the power are lacking the direction. It’s a pity to witness such misuse of power these days.

If we simply ask ourselves, what memories would we like to leave in the hearts and minds of humanity as we depart, we would be able to live a more truthful and purposeful life. We encounter the idea of death every moment, as we lose a family/friend, or indirectly by observing life around us, watching the news, or even passing by a butcher’s shop or the frozen section in the supermarket. We never wonder whether death will fall upon us, we know this simply as fact, but we don’t believe it. The ignorance within us often reminds us that death is a tragedy that happens to others, but not to us. When we finally become aware of this truth and the uncertainties in life, we will choose to embrace it and live with purpose and redefine our definition of a successful life.

Alexander the Great conquered many lands and accumulated much wealth. When death was close, he had three wishes that he ordered his generals to carry out. The first was that his coffin be carried to the grave only by his physicians, symbolizing that even the best medical team could not save him when his time was up. The second wish was that the path to the grave should be lined with all the gold and silver that he accumulated, symbolizing that all his wealth would remain on earth, and finally that his hands should be dangling out of the coffin. This was to symbolize that he came to this world empty handed and departed empty handed.

When we reach the end of our lives or while fighting a terminal illness, our successful careers, wealth, and superficial relationships lose its value. Understanding this truth early in our lives will save us time and effort, and will empower us to choose our goals wisely, because once we depart from the world, it is our memories, reputation, and the difference that we made in the lives of others that will remain, while we carry with us only the imprints of our experiences on our souls.

“In the school of the Spirit, man learns wisdom through humility, knowledge by forgetting, how to speak by silence, and how to live by dying.” - Johannes Tauler

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