Friday, March 7, 2014

The Secret to Everyday Success

I just want to share some simple thoughts with you today about everyday success. Now I know what you’re thinking: this is going to be about being studious, going to bed on time, eating right, not procrastinating, and pursuing your education. Let’s be honest: that’s has been done a million times already. I’m not going to put you all through that again. Instead, I’m going to focus on an area that sometimes gets overlooked when we consider our success and our education.

Success starts with you. If you want to be successful in college and successful in life, you must choose to have personal success every day. I’ve been going to college for over four years, and I just want to share some things with you that motivated me to move forward when I felt discouraged, overwhelmed, and unmotivated.

I’ve discovered that there’s a key to everyday success. It’s not checking everything off your checklist, it’s not getting your assignments in on time, and it’s not eating three balanced meals a day (although I don’t discourage any of those behaviors). The key to everyday success is not happiness. It is choosing happiness. I know that sounds incredibly simple, but it’s true. Success begins with you—it begins with how you choose to view yourself, your situation, and your outlook on life. This was a truth that I learned at a critical point in my life, when I believed that circumstances created my mood. Bad days equaled sadness. Good days equaled happiness. And so on.

Let me let you in on something. Happiness is a choice. Yes, there are times when our circumstances naturally make it easier for us to feel good about ourselves and our day. But if we depend solely on circumstances to make us happy, how are we going to be successful when we feel bombarded by exams, rainy days, loss, and depression? One of my favorite quotations by Vivian Greene says, “Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Some of you may be thinking, “You don’t understand what I’m going through. It’s impossible to be happy. I feel so overwhelmed.”

And you know what? You’re right. Nobody will ever understand the exact pressures, struggles, and feelings that you face every day. But that does not change the fact that happiness is a choice you make. 

Pretend that at the beginning of your life, you were standing in a hallway with two doors. If one door represented a lifetime of happiness and the other door represented a lifetime of misery, which door would you walk through? I don’t believe that any of us enjoy being miserable. In fact, I think there would be a stampede for door #1. If you could choose happiness that simply, then why do you deny yourself happiness in the present? I know that making the conscientious choice to be happy each day takes a lot more effort than simply walking through a magical door, but the principle is the same. The only person who can deny you happiness is yourself.

So how can you have everyday happiness? There are two ways that have effectively helped me. The first is incredibly simple and perhaps even predictable: be thankful for what you have. Look at where you are right now—reading this post via computer or iPhone. Simply having access to the internet is a blessing in itself. Where are you reading this from? Likely a building of some kind—perhaps your home, perhaps your college, perhaps your workplace—all of which are blessings in themselves. And that’s just looking at this present moment.

None of us have perfect lives. Each of us has our own battles and struggles and difficulties. Some of us struggle with depression, self-esteem, fears, anxiety, and uncertainty. But next time you have to force yourself to get out of bed in the morning and greet a day that you’d rather just sleep through… remember that you were able to literally get out of your bed in the first place. There are a lot of people who have never been able to walk who would give anything to be able to stand on their own feet.

Being thankful is one of the most important keys to happiness at your disposal. Challenge yourself to be thankful for something different each day. Even in your darkest moments, there is something monumental to be thankful for—the clothes on your back, the strength in your body… Even if you lived from now until the end of time, you could never run out of something new to be thankful for each day. That is one of the greatest keys to happiness.

The last point I want to leave you with is what I believe is the second key to happiness—thinking outside yourself. The world as you perceive it is only as large as the individual lives that you care for. If you think only of yourself, your world will be defined by that, and it will become a small, overly-involved cycle of pursing endless self-fulfillment, only to find semi-satisfactory results waiting at the end. When you choose to think of others, your horizons expand. You begin to see the world from more viewpoints than your own, and it becomes a beautiful place.

When we worry, feel overwhelmed, depressed, or bitter, we become self-consumed. We focus inward and forget that there is a beautiful world surrounding us, filled with people that we can impact. Think about how many people you encountered today. What kind of interaction did you have with them? Even if you made the smallest contact with them, you have had some small impact on them and shaped their day in some way. You offer a piece of yourself to every person that you meet. What impressions do you give? What impact do you have?

Always think of others. Strive to do at least one selfless thing a day—whether it’s sending someone an encouraging text, complimenting someone, donating to someone in need, or volunteering. When you help others succeed, you help yourself succeed. If you are feeling discouraged and hurt, and you choose to show kindness to another person, you are doing one of the strongest things you possibly could. You are acting against your nature to nurse your own hurts and choosing to focus on someone else. That takes great strength and it says a lot about your character.

In order to have a successful future, you must choose to make everyday a success. You will not always succeed, but facing and overcoming failure will be a greater part of your success. Demand your right to fail. Accept the challenge that failure poses, and choose to pursue your dreams and education regardless. Because if there is no chance of failure, success is an empty, meaningless thing.
Make everyday a success. Choose happiness. Find something to be thankful for each day. Do a small act of kindness for someone each day.

The future is yours. 

Embrace your dreams.


  1. Very wise words - you are so far ahead, it's not even funny. :) I am always amazed by those who let situations get them all upset - especially when it's not all that important. Good job!

    1. Thank you for reading and also for your kind words :) It's true that it's easy to let trivial circumstances get in the way of reality. The sooner we let things go, the sooner we can move on (though, admittedly, that isn't always easy).

  2. Replies
    1. Glad you found it helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Victoria! ^^)/