What is Success?

Success is a concept that each person within society is constantly trying to achieve. It is the hopes and dreams of every parent for their children to be successful and happy. It is woven into our character, and helps society define our worth, but what is success? More importantly, how do we obtain success?

The most common definition of success as defined by the internet and various dictionaries are the following: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or prosperity; and a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.

While I do not disagree that success is strongly linked to obtaining accomplishments. The definition that is provided by so many dictionaries directly link success with monetary accomplishments, name recognition, power, and status within society. Although most of society may consider those definitions the true definition of success, personally these definitions seem incomplete or not truly encompassing success as a whole.

This lead me to research what is success defined by individuals that society consider successful.  How do “successful” people define the concept of success?

Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, stated in her book entitled Thrive that society “tends to think of success along two metrics — money and power — we need to add a third”. She states that the third is more like a multi-branch pillar that contains “well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving”.  Success includes this last multi-branch pillar because to be successful, one truly needs to thrive and attend to their psychological well being as well as the role society creates for them.

According to the inspiring writer Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” She explains that success is sought through obtaining happiness within the decisions and paths that you have taken as an individual, and the enjoyment we find in it.

Spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra believes that success is a matter  of constant growth. He states in his book, “success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”

Unlike the three previous success stories that focus on the psychological well being of an individual, many others focus on the drive or path to success. Winston Churchill stated “success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” It is being relentless in your future and never giving up on your end goal.

Like Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison focused on the work to obtain success rather than what defines a successful person. He’s definition “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” He focused on constantly putting in the effort to reap the benefit.

I saved my personal favorite definition of success for last.  According to legendary basketball coach John Wooden, success comes from competition within ones self rather than competition with others. Wooden stated “success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming”. His idea of success comes from self fulfillment and goals of success that is set by the individual.

The common theme that is universal in each of these successful individuals definition is success comes from self awareness. Regardless if it is self fulfillment, hard work, continual self growth, relentless efforts, self love, or altruistic service to others; the key to success comes from within.  It is one thing to be successful to others, but the bigger obstacle is to truly gain success within the strict defines that we place upon ourselves.

I have not yet became the successful person that I would love to become, but I am proud of my progress and my relentless efforts to gaining success. Remember you are only more successful than the person you were yesterday.

Success lies within the heart, soul, and mind of the beholder.

 

 

 

 

It’s Okay not to be Okay

We live in a society that views people’s happiness and strength with being successful.  From a young age boys are taught not to cry because they will be perceived as weak or girly. Young girls are taught to be truly equal we must reel in our feelings, and show less emotion.  Society forces us to make everything seem okay. Do not get mad, upset, overreact, and to always remain calm. Do not express emotion.

If you have a job that pays well, you should be overjoyed that you are not one of the others not employed. You should be grateful, even if you hate your job.  Simply we are taught to be grateful and suppress.

But truly, It  is fine to be unhappy. To want more out of life. It is okay to hate yourself for not living up to your potential. It is okay to cry because it feels right. To hate your six figure job because it does not make you happy.  Its okay not to be okay.

 

Wealthy Person living Broke

It has been widely debated and a topic of interest the difference between being broke and being poor.  The topic never seemed to interest me much until someone referred to my life style as poor. Within the context of the conversation the person was asking questions about paying for a rental property.  To save space and time, he simply told me that my lifestyle was that of a poor person. My simply reply was my lifestyle is far from poor, I actually live a full and wealthy life.

I will not deny that I am a broke young adult that some how some way seem to make my bills each month, but I am far from poor.  Referring to oneself as poor digs deeper than having a lack of money or material items. Referring to yourself as poor is accepting that there is a social class distinction that is inescapable. There is no way out of the predicament.

As a broke person, you admit that you do not have money. The monetary means that other people are privileged to indulge with, but there is a way to change your status.  It declares that ones decisions, will, desire, and hard work can change the outcome.

So many broke people live wealthy lives because they have the means to live comfortably within their means. Being poor are the people who will never be able to push past their circumstance to a better outcome. People within third world countries that will never receive the comfort or convenience, these people are poor by circumstance.  They never get the opportunities that are given to many people in developed countries.  I am broke but I have doors opening and opportunities knocking each day.  This is the life of a wealthy person living on a broke girl’s budget. Knowing the difference is key.

We Are Built to Follow

I recently watched a video that explained and tested the theory of inclusion.  The reality that as a social animal we are built to naturally follow the herd. We are built to want to be included within the group, to not be the outcast.  This is the reason we conform. We conform to feel included. To simply not be excluded.

After watching the video, I could not help but question my own position on life and breaking the norm. I would love to say that I step outside the norm and the roam free from the herd, but am I just following another herd or am I actually independent.

The reality is I am somewhere in between. I did not take a full day to analyze the complexity of the situation, instead I came to a simply assumption.  The important take away from the video came to something quite simple.

Its important to feel included. Inclusion and feeling wanted is within our nature.  At some point our survival depends on others and the social connections we keep. On the same notion, its okay to feel connected to the people, but to be a part of a group and conform without questioning anything that feels wrong is not.  There should never be a time that you do not question something that does not sit well or make sense to who you believe you are.  Being able to stand up and go against the norms when the time is right is what makes us more human and less animal.  Simply everything is a balance, and its finding the balance that is most important part of being human.

Random Compliments

People often forget the power of words. Everyday we spew millions of words via our mouths or through our writing, but often forget the impact that these words have on others.  Each and everyone of us have the power to make or break some ones day through our words and actions.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of trying on my bridesmaid dress for a wedding that I will be a part of in June. To be honest, the whole experience tore down my confidence and positive self image.  It was overall a terrible experience that instantly put a damper on my day.

After leaving the bridal shop, I went food shopping with my beloved mother. To put it in perspective, I do not resemble my mother overall. She is a blond, has blue eyes, high cheek bones, and the greatest dimples.  As we enter the super market, this random stranger turned to my mother and said “Your daughter is beautiful, I am assuming that its your daughter based on the age difference, and the fact that you both have same cheek bones, widow’s peak, and larger set eyes”.

After the shock wore off the she was in fact talking to my mother and I, we replied that we do not get told we look alike often due to our drastic complexion difference and due to the fact that most of my features are direct matches to my father. Afterward the lady repeatedly told me how naturally gorgeous I was, and that its a shame that more people don’t openly compliment my looks.  Naturally I thanked her repeatedly, and continued shopping.

Now although the compliments was more than generous, the moral of the story is that this random stranger restored my lost confidence. She spread a little joy unknowingly. She had no idea about my day, but happened to change my bad mood instantly.

Every day, each and every person holds this great power. The power to uplift another person. We may not know what people are going through and the internal battles of each person we encounter, but we truly have the ability to bring a small glimpse of joy to others. Despite the world being full of negative people and actions, each of us have the ability to bring hope, joy, kindness, understanding, and honesty to other people.  Give a random compliment to a stranger. It might just make someone’s day or outlook. It might just change your outlook.

The Best Times of Your Life

When your in High school, people constantly tell you that you are going to miss these days. You are going to get to the real world and long for the simply days back in high school. For the longest time I felt that those were going to be the days when I sit back and long to be next to my locker, going from class to class, and only worrying about my perfect grades.

If I fast forward to today, I cannot say that I miss high school and long to go back to those days. I do not have a sob story about being bullied or anything drastic, but those were not what I would consider the “good times”. In High school I was within the top ten percent of my class, had a ton of  friends, a job paying higher than minimum wage, and a bright future.  It seems like the perfect blissful teenage years. With that said although I had a perfect teenage experience, I never long to return to those days.

I would never want to return to my old mindset or the truth that I believed in those days. Now that I am entering into my mid twenties, I have discovered myself. I have truly become the person that I was always meant to be. I stopped worrying about the shoe brands I wear, the purse that I carry, or the designers that I should be wearing.  I recognize the value of one true friend rather than 5 average acquaintances.

When I was younger I did not always spread love and understanding. I needed to have validation for my good deeds and things I have done well. I always looked to others to define me. My personality was shaped by the person I was hanging out with. I molded myself to fit others rather than staying true to myself. My life was dictated by others and controlled by the expectations set by society. Society defined me. My class rank defined my intelligence, the clothing I wore defined my worth, how many friends I had defined my popularity, I was defined by material objects.

My understanding of the world around me has changed drastically within the past few years. I have become awakened to my surroundings. I have my peace of mind. Others do not shape the perception I have of myself. I truly love myself. I love my small close knit group of friends. I love clearance rack clothing that was not created by a big name designer. I love my in depth knowledge of politics and research. I love understanding the world around me, and being able to learn something new on a daily basis.

The truth is when I am old and grey I am going to want to return to my twenties, at the time I become free. I might struggle, life is not blissful without real responsibility, but I am truly free. I am within the best times of my life, and I plan to make them worth remembering.  My advice is that life truly begins when you stop focusing on others expectation and become the person you truly want to be. This will become the time in your life that you will deeply cherish because you will be your truest self.

Back to Politics. Netflix scandal.

Unfortunately I cannot stay away from politics for too long. Writing about politics allows me to scream my opinions about issues that I cannot talk about daily at work. Working with people on a daily basis is amazing. I love the constant interaction and the ability to help people each day, but the downfall is that I have to censor all of my political views, therefore it is inappropriate to divulge personal political views at work with few exceptions of course.

I recently came across a movement of people deleting their Netflix accounts due to a new series that they are creating based on a movie.  People are boycotting a movie spin off show called Dear White People.  People are boycotting the show on the assumption that the show promotes racism and has an anti-white agenda.  There are currently 178 thousand dislikes on the trailer, and the 2014 film is currently streaming on Hulu. Now of course, I am a huge supporter of protest and old fashion boycotting to make a statement over injustice,but I wanted to find out about the show/movie and do a little bit of my own research.

“Dear White People” released in 2014 is a satirical comedy-drama film focusing on escalating racial tensions at a prestigious Ivy league college from the perspective of several African American students. Dear white people is a conversation about race relations. Many white Americans watched the trailer, and felt that it is race baiting. A narrative with a liberal agenda. Let’s actually talk about the show, and reality that is faced within society.  This movie and soon to be show is a comedy that through satire highlights the struggle of many African Americans and biracial individuals that enter into the world of academia after high school.  Not to place every person of one race or background under the same stereotype or “box”, but how is highlighting the college experience from an African American going to a traditional college automatically an anti-white agenda.  There are plenty of shows and movies that highlight traditionally black college and the various activities within the school (Stomp the Yard and Drumline to name a few). Traditional college with crazy parties, horrible Greek life, focus on rape culture, and binge drinking (Neighbors, Neighbors 2, and Greek to name a few ).  These shows highlight both black and white college students in a certain light, but each do not have the interaction between the two or deals specifically between the common interaction faced traditionally on college campuses.

So lets be frank. Yes the show does highlight white people in a negative light based on what we have experienced as black people. Yes does it stereotype white people as one group of people with similar views, similar notions, similar stances on another group of people.  Do I agree with placing all white people in a box. Well no. I think that perpetuating stereotypes only helps divide people rather than bring them together overall, but it does not validate this show as white baiting or anti-white agenda.  The reality is that within American society there are already certain stereotypes that are ingrained within us due to (wait for this one) movies that have already reinforced these stereotypes. People within the film industry only have a limited amount of seconds to get across a minor characters’ personality and a basic inclination of who they are.  This means that the film industry prey upon stereotypes that are already ingrained within society.

My issue lies in the fact that people are upset about what one show is doing to “whites” in placing stereotypes on them to fit into a certain dynamic for a show, but it was not an important issue when the film industry has placed stereotypes on minorities for decades. Again I am not validating Lions gate’s decision to perpetuate one stereotype, but it is the reality that we all live in. If you are triggered by this show than you should reevaluate the entire industry within our country. Just like liberals, conservatives pick and choose which films and projects to rally against. If you want to protest, protest the whole system! Don’t fall victim to the stereotypes, and realize you cannot escape them. Stop watching all media, stop paying to watch movies, stop streaming videos, and stop watching television.  This may seem a little severe because it is. The alternative is to realize most films perpetuate stereotypes to get a message out there. Its a sad reality, but maybe you could learn about life from a different perspective by watching a new show or simply do not watch the show at all.

So go head and boycott a show that has had a ton of money spent on it already, that is being released within the next few months. Also miss out on 1,000 of hours of new material being released by Netflix this year.  Sometimes you have to pick your battles. If you would prefer to give up Netflix than so be it. I will not condemn anyone for boycotting because it is one of the most underrated forms of protest that has the ability to make a huge impact. Just remember the next time you watch a film and an African American is portrayed as ghetto, uneducated, and loud. When a Hispanics shown as being loud, with a lot of children, and illegal immigrant. Asians as nerdy, traditional, all Chinese, strict parents, and heavy accents. Overweight people as lazy, food crazy, and without motivation.   All these stereotypes are wrong too, and do not call someone a snowflake when they protest in a similar way. Honestly I cannot say I will watch all of Dear White People because every show is not my cup of tea. Well actually I’m not a huge fan of the modern film industry and I usually do not watch too many shows or movies, but all of it is something small to think about. In addition I challenge everyone to research a topic before reacting. You might learn something. I also promise a review on the show once it hits Netflix.

Until next time.

-KP

 

Journey to a Healthier Me

Recently, I started my fitness journey with my younger brother. Most people in my daily life ask what am I doing to lose the weight, and what is the motivation.  Before this year my motivation was always to look good for the summer. To be skinny and rock a two piece in the summer.

This year something has changed. I stopped focusing on my looks and started to focus on my overall health. This is where the change took place for me. I have noticed that each workout and each week, I may not look different in the mirror, but I am indeed getting stronger. I can hold a forearm plank longer. Do a little bit more each workout.  My muscles are growing.

Being able to see my gains without a scale has been the biggest improvement.  The reality happens to be that I have lost weight. In the past, I would be disappointed in my weight loss because it is not the amount I would prefer. Instead of comparing myself to other people, I am constantly comparing myself to who I was yesterday and who I can become tomorrow.

Losing weight and living a healthier life style is hard work and requires dedication, but a positive attitude makes the difference between quitting and picking myself up after binges. So the journey keeps going. Each day is a new battle to be won.  I do not know what tomorrow  will bring, but I know that I will keep striving to be the best me possible!

-KP

Kindness does not need Validation

So I recently discovered a pet peeve of my own, and decided to share. My older sister lives in a secured building. The building is an income based apartment complex.  The guards that are employed are all there regularly, and start to build relationships with the tenants and regular guests. Although I could probably give a thousand stories about these wonderful guards, this will probably be the first and last.  One of the regulars always bring in extra snacks and food for the kids that live in the building.  Honestly he gave me more hope in humanity. As I was leaving one day, we happened to start talking because after I cleaned snow off my car, a little kid came over to my car and offered to help clean it off for a small fee.  Although the kid asked for two bucks and could not even reach halfway up my car, I allowed him to help me clean off the car and in reward I bought him a hot chocolate and gave him the change from a twenty dollar bill.  Before I left that guard asked if I was going to take a picture with the kid or post about the occurrence on social media. After talking with this guard for a while, I found out that he takes pictures of his “good deeds”, and has gained followers and recognition from his actions.

This man openly said that he loves all the positive feedback and it pushes him to do “more”. I love that he is helping others, but I could not help but question his motives. Does he perform random acts of kindness just to gain more followers and more likes?

The sad part is that the more that I think about the subject, I have realized that it has became a trend. People perform these great acts of kindness, but seem to post about the occurrence, video the “random act”, or take pictures with the people they helped. Why do people need others to validate their actions? Why has this become a trend?

Personally, I probably will never understand the need for validation. On a daily basis, I perform tasks that are thankless and goes without ever being noticed by anyone.  Being a good person does not need validation. Being a kind human and treating everyone like they are important does not need others approval or acknowledgment.  My satisfaction is knowing that each day I make a difference in this big world, no matter how small!

So I have a challenge to anyone willing to hear my rants. Go out and perform random acts of kindness, even if it is as small as giving a compliment to a stranger. Just one small random act of kindness can improve your day and your overall attitude as well as will help others.

Make today great for your self and others. Put out good vibes and always remember everyone is fighting their own battles.

Until next time!

-KP

I am not an Exception

The other day, one of my good friends put a post on Facebook explaining why he is not an exception.  He made a great point and an important remark that I feel should be shared to the masses. He wrote the following:

“I am not an exception. I repeat, I am NOT an exception!

Now that I have your attention, here are a few reasons why. I am NOT an exception for:

– Pursuing higher education
– Being educated!!!
– Being able to hold a deep and insightful conversation on complex or controversial topics
– Having goals and a plan to obtain them

An exception is defined as, “a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule.” So being that none of my above examples should come as shocking for a person in their mid 20’s, I am not an exception. Pretty simple right?

Unfortunately, my melanin causes some peoples logic program to malfunction and they throw an “exception” label on me because it’s tough to comprehend. Though, I could understand it, you know, if I was the first black person to do it. Maybe even the first from “the hood” with dreadlocks and tattoos, but I’m not. All I’ll say is, if my computer program kept throwing exceptions, I’d rewrite my program. Though, even with the many instances of black excellence that occur daily, I can honestly say I’m not surprised people still believe there are just a few “exceptions.” Cause between the media and unfortunately the actions of some of our community members (yes, we have to own up to our own part in this situation), that “general statement or rule” will continue to reign.

There are thousands upon thousands more individuals like me, and more being born each day. We are determined to achieve greatness in whatever form it takes in our personal lives, and are willing to use all of resources to do so. I thought that was the “American Dream”!

So let the world know, WE are NOT exceptions.

Changed minds change lives. #geniusmentality” 

I repeatedly write and rally against stereotypes, and the placement of imaginary boxes society places upon people, but I have always allowed people to reference my achievements as an exception. I am constantly reminded that many people of my race with similar socioeconomic background never end up going to college or having the opportunities that have been presented to me.  As I am constantly fighting against the boxes society has created, I have never pushed against the reality that, I am not an exception. I am not a lone wolf. I am one of many educated African Americans. I am one of many black Americans that pursue a higher education, who land a decent job, or that can have a meaningful conversation.  In comparison about 33% of African Americans pursue higher education compared to 41% of whites.  Over 1/3 of the African American population pursues higher education, and this percent is constantly growing each year. 1/3 of a population is not an exception.  When will society wipe away the rules on what is normal for a person of a specific race? When will  a person stop being defined by their pigmentation? When will we all realize that we are not a product of our race, our past, our socioeconomic status?  These factors may help create our personality, our determination, our being, and our outlook on life, but it does not make anyone an exception. Instead it allows us to prove that pushing barriers reaps great rewards, and anyone can live the American dream.  The next time you want to give someone a pat on the back and tell them they are an exception, remind yourself how many people overcome the same obstacles.

To my dear friend who wrote this enlightening post. You are right, you are not an exception, but yet you are still exceptional. The definition of exceptional: to describe something that is unusual; not typical. You are not exceptional because of your circumstance or your accomplishments as a black man, but you are exceptional because you are enlightened beyond your years. You are exceptional because you treat people with dignity and respect. You are exceptional because you set goals that are bigger than yourself, and you never rest until you get there. You are exceptional because you are not the typical guy with dreads who made it out of the hood, but an enlighten young guy who never allows others to put his accomplishments in a box.  Your genius mentality is inspiring to so many.

-KP