Good morning and welcome to your fifty-second meditation. And fifty-two weekly meditations is cause for celebration because it marks one year of being together; one year of doing our best to learn to love ourselves and each other as much as possible; one year of actively aspiring to be better. How great is that! No need to be stingy with our self-congratulation. If there’s one message you take from the past year of podcasts, it should be this. There is no success too small to celebrate, no pride in an achievement too silly to let yourself feel. No. To narrow the definition of success is to deprive ourselves of so much room to grow. We are creatures subject to behavioral conditioning, so that if we allow ourselves to feel good about whatever it is that we deem to be a success, this feeling will positively reinforce the behaviour that led to that success, and thus, breed more outcomes like it. And then a positive feedback loop of success and happy, celebratory feelings ensues. If, on the other hand, you view yourself as undeserving of celebration, then the whole mechanism that motivates the positive action gets stifled. This can quickly turn into a dangerous reversal of the aforementioned pattern of reinforcement, where you don’t let yourself view your achievements as successes and so come to regard yourself as someone who never succeeds. Who is unable to succeed.
But of course you can. Because there is no limit to how you can define success. Did you get out of bed this morning? It’s a cliché, but this can be a serious challenge for some people sometimes. And it’s not so hard to understand why. Life can be overwhelming at the best of times, and getting out of bed in the morning represents your choice to live it; to confront the pressures, the anxieties, the hardship; to affirm your existence in the face of all the forces that seem to want to deny it. But maybe your feeling of success is derived from something less fundamentally existential. Maybe it’s just that you managed to instal that shelf all by yourself. Maybe it’s that you finished your crossword in record time. Maybe it’s that you had a great day on the golf course. It doesn’t matter. The world can feel like a thankless place at times; and if you’re not going to appreciate your achievements, however frivolous, who will? So if you do something that feels like an accomplishment, just leave aside the tendency to judge the importance or significance of that act. Relish in the feeling of success. Celebrate and freely flourish. Happy birthday meditators! Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.