Success Principles Worth Following


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by Jayaram V

Source: This essay was originally published in the book “Think Success, Essays on Self-help” by Jayaram V under the same title and reproduced with publisher's permission.

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A principle is any truth or assumption, which you can use to guide your thinking and actions. A number of principles put together become a philosophy or worldview. Principles are the essence of our knowledge, wisdom and experience. You may draw them from your own experience or learn from others by study and observation.

Principles shape your character, thinking and behavior and help you to live your life according to your convictions. The world may change, but your principles do not, unless you find newer truths that change your thinking and perception. Some principles are worth remembering because they give you a direction in life and the strength to overcome problems and difficulties. The following seven principles serve the same purpose. They are drawn from my own experience and observation. Please see whether you agree with them.

1. Your life is unique and precious

Your life is as unique and precious as the life of any person. It does not matter whether you are successful or not. The very fact that you are alive and active in this world is a blessing in itself. Many people do not realize how precious their lives are and how lucky they are to be part of this vast humanity. Unfortunately, some people even ignore it and commit suicide or indulge in self-destructive habits and actions. Some indulge in wanton destruction of life upon earth. The moments that make up your life are also precious because they never return. You may experience the illusion of continuity amidst change and impermanence, but in reality life moves in a linear fashion in a forward direction only.

You may even say that life is but just one moment that keeps changing continuously. Things may repeat, but never exactly in the same manner. From the time we are born until we die, we keep moving forward. Whether we accept it or not, it is towards one destination only, which is death. Therefore, recognize your uniqueness and the value of your life, even if it is not a great one according to the world standards. Treat it with utmost respect and manage your precious time here wisely, without indulging in bad habits and self-destructive behavior, or in violence and cruelty.

2. We all eventually die

In the excitement and the attractions of our lives, we do not remember this sad truth about our mortality. Many people think and act as if they are going to live here forever, seeking things that also do not last, and believing that somehow they can defy death. It is only in old age that the thoughts of death begin to dominate the minds of many. It is true that for our welfare and happiness, we have to focus upon living, rather than death. If we keep thinking about death, we will not be able to experience peace or happiness. However, it is also necessary to remember that life is transient, and we cannot indulge in excessive worldliness and trade our very souls to secure material comforts. It is important that we not only live peacefully but also die peacefully with minimum regrets. One of the common regrets expressed by people who are nearing their death is that they should have spent more time in recreation or with their families. Therefore, remember the transience of life and spend your time wisely, knowing its value. Live a holistic life, or a complete and balanced one, without pursuing only one or two goals at the expense of other important ones, such as your health, your family, and your own happiness. Most importantly, live in the present and find opportunities to enjoy your life.

3. Do what you love most

Job dissatisfaction is a major source of unhappiness in the world. It is also a major source of health problems. People feel depressed and frustrated when they have to spend their lives doing what they dislike. When you use your abilities and talents, your chances of success increase greatly. You will also derive a lot of mental satisfaction. If you want to achieve distinction or excellence in your life, you must follow your dominant desires and use your natural talents and potentials. There is safety in being part of a crowd, but it may also make you unhappy and frustrated. It is worthwhile to live the life you want to lead by doing what you love to do, or what you are naturally inclined to do. Everyone is born with some strengths, talents and skills. You have to find them and build your life around them. Consider them your God given gifts, and use them as your capital to create your goals and reach them. By doing what you love most and planning your success around your inherent strengths, you will experience inner harmony and positive self-esteem. If you cannot change your job or take risks, you should use them to help others by teaching them or training them. You should focus upon the positive aspects of your job and try to make it more interesting and satisfying.

4. Aim for excellence in whatever you do

If you know the value of your time, recognize your uniqueness, and pursue your passions and strengths, excellence will follow. Excellence means giving your best in whatever you do. It does not have to be the best of the best, but the best you can achieve according to your knowledge, skills, ability, and circumstances. True excellence comes from perfection in your thinking and actions, which again come from self-discipline and commitment. Whether it is a simple task such as polishing your shoes or a complicated one such as designing a computer game, you can practice excellence by setting the best standards of performance and meeting them with right action and attitude. In this regard, certain qualities are helpful such as enthusiasm, dedication, honesty, diligence, intelligence, focus, humility, patience, resolve, tolerance, perseverance, and courage.

5. You are responsible for your life

Whether you accept it or not, your life is your responsibility. You are responsible for your actions and reactions, and how they shape your life. It is true that the events in your life may not always happen according to your expectations or with your knowledge. It is also true that your life is influenced by not only your actions but also the actions of others and that of God, or Fate. However, it is not a sufficient excuse to avoid responsibility or blame others. If you examine your life carefully, you will realize that although some events happened due to external causes, you still had a role in their happening, since you had opportunities to avoid them by making a few choices. You are the hub as well as the mover of the wheel of your life. You can depend upon God and seek His help, but you cannot ignore your duties and responsibilities. You have to think about your life, and know whether you are moving in the right direction for a better life or need some changes and improvements.

6. When in doubt listen to your heart

We cannot ignore the importance of reason in solving our problems, cultivating wisdom or gaining knowledge. However, we cannot always depend upon it only. Sometimes everyone has to listen to his heart and follow its direction, especially when the information is insufficient, and the results are uncertain. Human consciousness is a mixture of reason and emotions, and we have to use both in our decision making. When ambiguous or uncertain situations arise, whose outcome is difficult to predict, we should turn to our feelings, instincts and intuition to know their drift. For example, many times we have to make important decisions, which will have a major influence upon our lives such as where to study or which job to choose or whom to marry. In such cases when you are unsure, it is better to listen to your heart to see whether it validates the solutions suggested by your mind. It will be difficult for you to listen to your heart, if your mind is too noisy. You can calm your mind with rest, prayers, meditation and concentration.

7. Your life is shaped by your self-image

Whom do you listen to most in your life? Do you frequently listen to others or follow your own judgment? Do you suffer from the compulsion to seek others' approval or care more for your own opinions? Many people live according to the expectations of others, and in the process compromise their values, beliefs, goals and decisions. It is important to know what you think about yourself and how you feel when you deal with others or seek their help. If you suffer from low self-esteem and low self-confidence, you will prefer staying in your comfort zone and settle for a mediocre life. You will not take risks, or use opportunities that may lead to failure and criticism. Low self-esteem may also result in self-destructive behavior, withdrawal, depression, fear and such behavioral problems. You can improve your self-esteem and thereby your self-image. In this regard, the following suggestions are useful.

  • Know more about yourself
  • Improve your knowledge and skills
  • Face and resolve problems
  • Know your strengths
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Learn from others
  • Do difficult tasks
  • Establish your own standards of performance
  • Forgive yourself
  • Learn from your failures and mistakes
  • Learn to appreciate yourself and others

Suggestions for Further Reading

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