Friday, January 27, 2012

Defining the Undefinable

As I mentioned in my last post, yesterday my Spirituality in the Arts class was to discuss and define the words success and failure. Although we normally talk as an entire class- by the way, we sit in a large circle everyday- we broke up into groups of five. I personally think this allowed us to talk more freely and candidly because we did not have to go through the process of raising our hands and then waiting to be called on.

My group, was composed of four women (one of whom was my professor) and one man. As we orginally sat in silence, unsure of where to begin, we decided to start on a positive note and begin with success...

Originally we decided that to success meant you accomplished a goal. One student said that to him, success is defined by obtaining a "good", well-paying job after graduation. Not all of us agreed. Then we started to discuss the idea that "successes" do not have to be something lofty or prestigious...

This is where the conversation got heated. So for my sake, instead of trying to make all statements into a paragraph, I'm going to make lists of our groups' varying beliefs. I was quite interested in what everyone had to say, and of course I wanted to share it with you, so I took extensive notes.

- Most people care about accomplishing something great and large-scale
- Being successful means to be content or happy
- It's an awareness of the things we believe in
- Does success have to be external, and "approved" by everyone around us?

- It is the mindset that keeps you from moving on after an unfortunate event; unwilling to learn and change
- Submission to fear
- When someone is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions (note that responsibility is much different than fault or placing blame)
- You may not be a failure but instead have failed

Pretty intense, right? We then concluded that you simply cannot have success without experiencing failure at some point in your life. Because, without the miserable feeling of failure, success wouldn't feel so good. Therefore, we believe the two go hand in hand.

- We can't have success without failure, it's not a dichotomy.
- The two are synonymous.
- Your reaction to situations defines who you are: choose to learn from a mistake to then succeed or wallow in pity and truly fail.
- The ONLY true failure is consciously choosing not to learn from an experience.
- Defining whether you are successful or constantly failing may limit your potential- instead, you should allow misfortune and opportunity to add to your character.
- People should not press their own ideas of success and failure upon others- it's not our obligation to do things simply to please others.
- Although society conditions us to have one definition, we all may [and should] have our own ways of defining these words.
- When you accept responsibility for a failure, regardless of the size, you are then succeeding. Looking the problem or mistake in the eyes will allow you to learn, grow and be challenged, which is a success in its own.

After this heavy conversation our professor had us all go outside and use our talents to play soccer and frisbee- by the way, the weather was perfect, even a bit warm! I love this class! Did I mention Mike and I are in it together? Being the photo-loving girlfriend that I am, I had to Instagram a photo! :)

In all seriousness, I learned so much from yesterday's class discussion. I'm typically pretty hard on myself and very critical when I make mistakes. Now I realize that just getting up after I fall down is a true success- what an encouragement.

Thanks for bearing with me, I know this was a lengthy post!

Happy Friday- have a wonderful weekend! XO


  1. love the pic of you two- adorable couple! I would have loved that assignment. It is amazing how much we judge our successes and failure by what other people think of us-what a great exercise

  2. Yes, we're always twenty times harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us. Just keep picking yourself up and dusting off and that's a great achievement!

  3. This is such a great post. Thank you!

  4. I like your idea that the only truly failure is choosing not to learn from an experience. Maybe people learn more from failure than success, and in that way failure at least serves a purpose. Sounds like a thought-provoking class!