(Re)defining Success

Success

I mentioned a few weeks ago how things seem to be flowing for me these days. It feels like I’m heading in a positive direction with my mindfulness efforts, and I’m doing my best to be as present and grateful for what’s unfolding as I can without allowing myself to get too attached to any future outcome.

But this hasn’t been easy.

I’ve been witnessing my mind getting swept up in—and wanting to attach to—the “successes” that I’ve been experiencing.

Case in point—when I ran my free ebook promotion on Amazon earlier this month, I assumed I would give away a few hundred ebooks, and that would be that. But then, quite unexpectedly, the ebook started flying off the virtual shelves. And, sure—this is thrilling news. It’s perfectly “normal” to be excited when something you’ve put a great deal of energy into does well. But, this “excitement” felt different…. Almost immediately, I watched my mind diverting away from my initial intention of casually being engaged in monitoring the promotion—to reactively (and compulsively) obsessing over how many thousands of books I could giveaway before the promo ended.

And it didn’t stop there… When I saw that I’d entered Amazon’s Top 100 free ebooks list, I started obsessing over getting to #1 in my book’s category. And then, once I reached #1—I started obsessing about staying there.

Hour-by-hour (and sometimes minute-by-minute), I watched myself hitting the refresh button on my browser while I held my breath and waited to see how many more books I’d given away—and if my book’s ranking was holding at #1. My body felt anxious, excited, speedy. My mind and heart racing…. Thinking about it now as I write this, I see the image of a woman perched on the edge of her seat, compulsively feeding quarters into a slot machine in Vegas—and holding her breath as she waits to see if she’s hit the jackpot. This image, of course, was me during the promo. I was, essentially, riding an adrenaline rush—driven by my ambition to hit the jackpot of “success.”

But as exciting as it all felt, getting so caught up in trying to achieve—and maintain—”success” felt unhealthy (and downright icky). It took a good solid day before I was able to fully step back and see how entangled I’d become in the whole game.

And that’s when I recognized that I’d lost track of why it was so exciting that I was giving away so many books…. I’d been so busy tying my feelings of self-worth to the promotion’s “success”—that I’d lost touch with the whole reason I decided to do the promo in the first place: to share something of value with others.

On a related note…

Shortly after the promo ended, I happened to catch the documentary, “Decoding Deepak” on netflix, and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. If you haven’t seen the flick, Deepak Chopra’s son follows Deepak around with a video camera as he flies around the world promoting his new book.

And guess what happens?….

(SPOILER ALERT) Deepak spends most of the movie obsessively checking his blackberry and talking about being on The New York Times Best Sellers List.

Ah, “success….”