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“To give is to receive twice…”

I used to think that the beautiful people ran the world and were the most successful. If you look at the outside anyway of those corporate successful types they look outwardly good, happy and beautiful. Success of course rather depends on your vantage point and on how you measure success. Is the heart or the mind in the ascendency. At different times in one’s life each has its day.

Ask a young person who has been bombarded by the corporate marketing machine from an early age and I strongly suspect that most would couch success in material terms. A good while back I asked one of my sons to define success and he presented his answer in terms of car, house, good job (by which he meant a big salary), a wife and finally the two children. Part of his answer at least had the hint of a loving relationship at its heart. These were my very values up until I had children of my own.

There must be a genetic trigger that turns on the altruistic gene at the point when children arrive on the scene. The “me, me, me” outlook for most anyway is replaced by the “give, give, give” disposition and it comes on with an unremitting force. Meet your own progeny for the first time and most parents can’t resist he urge to build a nest or secure the cave from the external ravages of life and protect the family.

The material trappings of life come under pressure when children arrive and we’ve all seen the car advert where the man reluctantly gives up his sports coupe for the people carrier or MPV. A particular aspect of life however that comes under pressure is “time”. My wife often says that one of the most important thing to her is “time”. I certainly understand that sentiment as time to me is an opportunity to reflect, develop as a person and be generally mindful of my acceptance or not of life’s ups and downs. However it’s also time to see your sons or daughters grow in a meaningful way into adulthood and to guide their efforts towards living a considered life.

To me the material trappings of life have become increasingly transient in their ability to confer happiness and I’ve realised the pleasure they provide is spiritually diminishing. The more enduring happiness comes from the memories that a parent has in seeing a child grow or the caress of a spouse. To see a smile that you have put on the face of another is real success. These images will last in the minds eye for a lifetime and should outlast any worldly media that you should want to place it on.

Success to me is measured in the relationships that a person has been able to positively influence over the years. The respect and wisdom that you are able to hold and express. That is success and yes that is a measure of beauty so maybe people who are beautiful inside are the most successful.