Real Leaders

4 Ways to Take Back Control and Avoid Imaginary Success

We’ve all been there: watching TV and admiring the perfect, wealthy family on the screen, who live in a big, white house and grin at the audience with perfect smiles. Or maybe you’re enamored by the business executive in a sleek, red Ferrari driving to his office in a chic downtown business district.

Perhaps you’re scrolling through Instagram, pausing to take in the latest exotic trip from your favorite influencer.

Meanwhile, you’re sitting on your sofa in a semiconscious state, feeling hopeless and a bit angry at yourself. You’ve had a dark realization as you’ve surrounded yourself with other people’s perfect lives: you’re far from living that kind of life.

You feel like your life is going nowhere, at least compared to the extravagant and exciting lives you see on TV and social media. When you get on with your daily activities and confront real life, you start in a negative mental state. Life is unfair. You landed on the wrong side of the fence where there’s no green grass—only dirt.

This type of depression and anxiety is increasing worldwide at unprecedented rates. The World Health Organization estimates that depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders are the leading causes of illness and disability in adolescents, and adults aren’t far behind. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that 1 in 4 adults—a startling 26% of the total adult population—suffer from mental health disorders and depression, according to Johns Hopkins’ latest reports.

What’s happened to us?

Why is it getting more difficult to enjoy life and appreciate all we have?

We need to stop and reexamine how we define success today. If our definition of success is based on other people’s standards, we’re looking at the wrong indicators. When we let others decide what’s best and what success looks like, we’re giving our power away.

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But guess what? You have the power to hit reset, rewrite your definition of success, and take back control of your mind. Here are four tips to help you redefine your best life on your terms:

1. Take in and appreciate all that you have.

This world is full of wonders. It doesn’t matter where you live: I can assure you that somewhere close by, there’s a beautiful park, forest, river, field, or majestic tree, just waiting for you to notice its existence. So be grateful for the home you’ve built, the people who care about you, and the food on your table.

Be thankful for everything you have. You’ll generate positive energy that will inevitably bring you more of what you appreciate and desire.

2. Spend more time outside — and less time in front of a screen.

Nowadays, most of our days are spent in front of computers and devices, whether at work, school, or home. The average person spends around seven hours a day looking at a screen. This rate has increased during the pandemic, where even the most basic activities, like shopping for food or consulting with a doctor, are happening online.

However, this shift in behavior isn’t good for our physical health. We’re less exposed to natural light from the environment, and we’re taking in too much blue light from our computers and mobile screens. This affects our sleeping cycles and moods; the predictable cycles of day and night—which our bodies have been used to for hundreds of years—have been severely interrupted by the adoption of LED and artificial lighting. It’s a scientific fact that constant exposure to artificial light leads to an increased risk of breast cancer, metabolic disorders, and psychiatric and mental disorders.

So, commit to getting more hours of natural light exposure. Take long walks during the day. Work outside on a balcony or in a garden. Avoid using computers or mobile devices during the weekends. Respect your natural sleep cycle and synchronize it with the natural light cycles of the earth. Remain active during the daytime, and reduce your activity when it gets dark. Nature will always be our best teacher!

3. Create a vision for your life.

Most people go about their daily lives without being conscious about what they’re doing. What motivates you to wake up every day? Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and ask: “If this is my last day on earth, would I do what I’m about to do today?”

What answer comes to mind?

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, the visionary founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, was correct when he said, “Pain pushes you until the vision pulls you.”

Find what pulls you during the day. Spend some time daily in introspection. Ask yourself: “What would I love to do or accomplish? How can I make this world a better place? What can I contribute to make it happen?”

The moment you find your vision, you’ll realize there’s no time to lose. You’ll wake up happy and energetic, knowing there’s a cause waiting for you. You won’t have time to waste scrolling through social media or thinking about what others have (and what you don’t).

4. Trust your inner voice.

Experts, gurus, and celebrities are overrated in our society. Yet many of us still listen to what they have to say about what they’ve done and how they did it, and then we try to imitate them.

But more often than not, these people don’t share the whole story. We only get to see the shiny, successful parts of their lives. We don’t see the long hours of effort, the suffering, or the failures. As a result, we have an unrealistic view of how things work, and then we wonder why we keep failing and not getting what we want.

Experts, gurus, and celebrities don’t tell us that success comes from developing your intuition and following your inner voice. It doesn’t come from taking the most-traveled path, but others can follow by blazing a new path.

Listen to your spirit and what you’re meant to do. Consider the life of an oak tree: It starts as a tiny acorn buried in the soil. With no apparent movement within the earth, months pass by, although much activity is happening inside the seed. Finally, after several months, a tiny oak seedling sprouts from the ground. Over the following decades, the young tree becomes a majestic adult, growing over 150 feet tall and living for hundreds of years.

What you decide to plant in your mind and spirit will determine what you’ll become. So listen to your inner voice and, over time, let that voice grow into a majestic being!

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