Overcoming the Poison of Society’s “Success”

Overcoming the Poison of Society’s “Success”

In the pursuit of a dream, we will stumble across many “poisons” that attempt to deter us, weaken us, and make us doubt our dream’s capability and legitimacy. Like a physical poison, it’ll work through your system and slowly kill any hope of passion and confidence.

One of those poisons that has haunted me quite a lot is the perceived notion of “success” that is intentionally-unintentionally pushed on us from society. Well, it is half the time, and then the other half is our own self-imposed notion. There’s different factors that we may deem “successful,” and it can slightly differ amongst us, but overall it involves the same concept. And, ultimately, it results in us believing that because our lives don’t match this picture, then we’re not successful.

First of all, this is all this “success” is: a picture. An idea. An ideal imagined by generations of a collective culture that has changed and merged and intersected so much we’ve lost track. So this picture of “success” has changed an insurmountable amount of times. It’s irrelevant. It’s pointless. There’s no need to pay it any attention.

Here are a few things to dwell on:

  • What makes you happy?

Now, if having a certain income or marrying well or climbing the ladder to CEO or becoming famous is what makes you happy, then by all means pursue it! If none of that matters to you, then there’s nothing wrong or different about that. If you’re happy, or at least content, I’d say you’re doing pretty good.

  • Every path is different.

Even when two people are pursuing the same thing, they won’t do it exactly the same way. And both are valid and equally successful.

  • What’s better: satisfied others or satisfied you?

What’s so great about living a life that others demand and being miserable and bitter all the time? I’m sure you’d rather be pleased with yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t listen to wise and well-meaning advice from those you trust and who know you well, and this doesn’t mean you don’t practice humility and sacrifice (after all, Character comes before dreams). But also don’t forget to listen to your own gut. Even in the midst of presumed certainty, your gut will never lie.

  • Society knows nothing of you.

You know you. Your family and friends know you. What do they say about you? What does your heart say about you?

  • Divert your thoughts when they dwell too long on this “success.”

Thinking too much about this will only make you lose hope and energy. Have a plan to divert your thoughts to something more productive, and something more positive. Choose a subject on which you will habitually think about when your mind starts to wander into darkness (Philippians 4:8-9, “think on these things…”)

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Weekly Devotional: Nothing More Hopeful than Love

Weekly Devotional: Nothing More Hopeful than Love

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

I’ve come to realize something: need hope? then love.

I don’t think I have to go into an explanation of how and why love is the most powerful thing. But I do think sometimes we forget about the close correlation love has with hope. Hope can be a hard thing to keep. At times it feels like we are hanging on to it by a single thread. From a cliff. With one hand. And it’s raining, making our grip nearly impossible.

The one thing that gives us strength to keep hanging onto that precious thread is love. If you don’t seem to have enough of it, then give it out. More love=more hope. Think of love, and get hope.

 

 

 

“In the Absence of Light”

“In the Absence of Light”

There’s an absence of light
Behind my eyes,
An absence of words
In my fingers,
And on my tongue
Sings voices I have not heard
In many years.
There’s an absence of warmth
From my arms,
Where a baby would sit;
An absence of solemnity,
The kind that was sad
But also safe.
There’s an absence of fear
Yet an absence of strength
In my legs, enough
To stand on sand
As the chilling ocean waves
Sweep me out from under.
An absence of sincerity
Haunts my movements
And my intentions,
An absence of desire
For camaraderie,
Fellowship, constraint.
An absence of openness.
There’s an absence of light
Because I walk in the dark.
But in the absence of light,
I still walk.

Catherine Joy

How to Avoid the Starry-Eyed Mentality With Your Dreams

As someone guilty of living a little too starry-eyed with my dreams, and honestly my whole life in general, sometimes it takes some self-inflicted advice to help me stay grounded. I’m not yet successful in balancing my idealism and realism quite yet, but it helps to write articles like this to keep me on track:

How to Avoid the Starry-Eyed Mentality With Your Dreams

Don’t forget to check out more of Reflect & Refresh‘s posts for some whimsical, motivational, or tough love advice.

How to Fight All Things Negative, According to the Bible

How to Fight All Things Negative, According to the Bible

All scriptures in NLT version

Anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.

John 14:27
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

1 Peter 5:6-8
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Worry: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.

Matthew 6:25-27
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Psalm 55:22
Give your burdens to the Lordand he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

Romans 8:31
 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Roman 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.,whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

Isaiah 41:10
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Joshua 1:9 (My favorite scripture!)
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Depression: the state of being depressed; to make sad or gloomy; lower in spirits; deject; dispirit.

Psalm 42:11
Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

Psalms 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

1 Peter 4:12-13
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

Pressure: the exertion of force upon a surface by an object, fluid, etc. (in this case, person), in contact with it.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

James 1:2-4
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Regret: a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.

Philippians 3:13
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…

1 John 1:9
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Micah 7:18-19
18 Where is another God like you,
    who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
    overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Stress: the pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain.

John 14:27
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

John 16:33
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Luke 6:48
It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.

Frustration: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

James 1:5
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:19
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Galatians 6:9
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Exodus 14:14
The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the Lordand he will give you your heart’s desires.

Romans 8:18
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

Self-Criticism: the act or fact of being self-critical.

Ephesians 4:29
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Romans 6:14
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Seeking Approval of Others: working for others to speak or think of you favorably; pronounce or consider agreeable or good; judge favorably.

Galatians 1:10
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Proverbs 29:25
Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
    but trusting the Lord means safety.

1 Thessalonians 2:4
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

Fear of the Future: a distressing emotion aroused by the impending future and the inability to know what will happen.

Deuteronomy 31:6
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Thanks to Keep Calm and Trust God by Jake Provance & Keith Provance
Anxiety is a Choice

Anxiety is a Choice

Stop allowing yourself to be anxious or disturbed: and do not permit yourself to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.
-John 14:27 (AMP)

Did you know anxiety is a choice? I know very well how that can seem false. I’ve struggled with enough anxiety to think, “how is that possible?” But anxiety is entirely in the mind, which we do have control over. We not only have the power to combat anxiety, we have the power to keep it out of our heads altogether. Take a look at the words used in John 14:27-allowing yourself, permit yourself. The Bible tells us to stop it like we stop an unwanted bad habit.

We choose anxiety by allowing our minds to continue to think and accept the anxious thoughts that wander in throughout the day. The way we choose against it is by stopping the thought when it comes and consciously changing to a different thought, one that is opposite the anxiety. This is how we “stop allowing” ourselves to be anxious.

You don’t end a war by avoiding the fight. You end a war by going in and stopping the fight with the right strategy.

The Falsehood of Being “Behind”

The Falsehood of Being “Behind”

I once stumbled across a post that I saved and shared on social media because it spoke so personally to me:

“Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.”

I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, but I would wholeheartedly give credit to its origin. This was one of those quotes that struck so deep it was like a punch in the stomach. A punch that I very much needed. From high school, I did not do things like my smart, overachieving, well-to-do group of friends. I graduated a year early, took college classes during the summer, did not participate in National Honor Society or other honorable student organizations, went to community college instead of a four-year university directly after graduating, and so forth. Certain motivations like avoiding unbearable student tuition debts as much as possible made me choose this kind of path, as well as circumstances like breaking my back which led me to start online classes out of sheer boredom. There’s also the factor of spending most of my time doing internships practically every semester for the past four years. Needless to say, I have done things a little differently from my peers; from most people my age, I think.

From the moment I graduated high school I have struggled with doubt, regret, jealousy, comparison, shame. I just turned 22, and many other 22-year-olds I know are nearly finished with their Bachelor’s, whereas I am just now, not even yet, on my way towards that same goal. Yes, I have made progress with an Associate’s that gets me a little ahead of the four years, with doing internships that have proven valuable experience and connection. It’s still hard not to think about how I will likely be 25 or 26 when I do get that Bachelor’s, as apposed to old friends already having it before their 21st birthday.

Everyone in my life who is in the loop of my life has repeatedly told me, “Why do you think this? You are only such-and-such years old! You’re still young! You are doing fine! Chill out!” And I imagine those who are older than me are probably rolling their eyes in their mind as they say this. If I step out of my body and rationally observe myself, I have the exact same reaction. Why, indeed? I really do need to chill out.

It all boiled down to personal expectations. I live in this subconscious mindset of age-induced deadlines, of assumed projected standards from others, of living up to a subjective definition of success, according to society.

This idea is “being behind” as if life is some kind of race to compete in is totally, completely, stupidly false. I know this. Doesn’t mean I’ve successfully overcome it, but I’m working on that.

Why is it false?

There are different paths to the same goal.

Your path is different from your peers.

Age is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with achieving dreams.

Your age does not define you or your level of success.

“Success” is a vague term that can have a million definitions according to the individual.

Doing things for the sake of accomplishing certain societal standards is a major waste of energy and passion.

More often than not, the expectations you imagine are from outside pressures are actually your own placed upon yourself.

There is no designated deadline based on timeline, age, or order of goals that says “you failed.”

Accomplishment differs between careers. What makes someone a doctor will be a very different list of goals from what makes someone a filmmaker or an entrepreneur or a childcare provider.

Value of time and energy also differs between careers. It may be more worth it for a musician to spend their time networking while an aspiring vet will spend their time in school.