Success versus health

Success versus health is a nonsense – clearly its a nonsense! It’s like climbing to the top of a mountain and realising you’d left your intestines at the bottom.

I realise that’s a really weird metaphor but if id suggested your legs instead of your intestines you’d have said ‘well clearly I’d have known if I’d left my legs behind because I wouldn’t have been able to walk’ and yet achieving success without full health, intact relationships, a full life is pretty much like climbing a mountain without using your legs. Success without health is clearly a downright miserable failure, much like the whole arriving at the end of your life pleased you’d made it.

And I wonder, as we continue to damage our health by pushing on through the overwhelm and exhaustion to achieve our goals, whether its a way to justify our success.

Imagine you’ve reached your goal. What are people saying about you?

‘Well she worked really hard, she deserves the money/promotion/new house/holiday/car.’

How do you feel imagining hearing this instead?

‘I don’t know where she got the money for the new house/car/holiday from or how she got that promotion – she doesn’t seem to work very hard.’

Do you resent people for whom money and success come easily?

I noticed some Zoom bashing since their recent pandemic success. Why? They provide a useful service – why not congratulate them? Why are big successful businesses suddenly open for knocking down?

Not the ones that deal in arms and drugs and avocados – the big successful businesses that were built by someone who had an idea and dared to put it out there and make it happen and provide employment for hundreds or thousands of people – those companies – why do I hear resentment? Isn’t success a good thing? Do we not want everyone to have a safe comfortable home, ethically produced food and goods, healthcare, education, transport, clean streets etc This stuff costs money. Money is made by people having ideas and creating success. It should be celebrated.

And yet. Why do we feel the need to sacrifice our health, relationships, lives in order to achieve it?

Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re one of those people who has found an easier way. Has dared to be successful without the display of blood, sweat and tears. I’m not talking about hard work versus laziness here. I’m talking about working so hard that you damage your health and relationships – the opposite of what you want the success for.

I’m asking because I notice a tendency in myself to overwork, disconnect from the signals from my body, overriding the need for movement, food, connection, rest, sleep.

Like driving fast, overworking is an easy habit to get into.

Could you be kinder to yourself? How could you make today easier? Can you respond to your body’s need to move or rest, rather than pushing on through?

It can be hard to change the what – there’s stuff you probably have to do. But it’s very possible to change the how.

Often I notice a reluctance to listen to my body in case the long-held back deluge of need and complaints derails my plans for the day. What I have discovered is the power of tuning in and listening. Just noticing the tiredness, acknowledging the achiness does something powerful.

It’s like the power of being listened to. Listening to your body like the old friend it is rather than pushing it as if its needs are inconveniences to be endured – this changes the how. 

And how you move through your day matters.

How are you in the world matters. Waking up and bracing yourself against the day creates held patterns of tension that can lead to stiffness and eventually chronic pain. Another problem to be added to the list of things to fix.

Allowing a softening, acknowledging the pressure you are putting on yourself, becoming aware of the tiredness as well as the resistance to rest – just noticing, reconnects you. 

Moving from a place of connection gives you the strength to succeed on your terms – with energy and ease rather than damage and unwellness. 

It also makes it easier to stop the snapping at those you love and to be kind to everyone you interact with. And I think it’s pretty clear how much we need more kindness right now.

Success, for me, by definition means with health, energy, ease and kindness.

What about you?