True success is like a lotus blossom reaching toward the sun

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 3, 2013

“Success is defined by abandonment to … love, without end and without condition.”
—Mark Anielski, author of The Economics of Happiness

“We have been socialized to believe that money and material things are the measure of success,” a prominent Canadian economist wrote to me in response to our current series of columns on success.

Edmonton coffee companion Mark Anielski is co-founder of Genuine Wealth Inc. and author of The Economics of Happiness (2007).

He went on to say:

“However, some economists and psychologists who are studying the economics of happiness have found that the amount of money you make has less to do with self-rated life satisfaction and happiness than do the strength of relationships one has with family, friends, and work colleagues.

“Once a certain level of income has been achieved and the basic needs of life have been met, more money does not lead to increasing levels of happiness.”

True success, Mark says, “is defined by abandonment to grace and humility – and more importantly, to love, without end and without condition.”

I first met Mark back in August 2009 over coffee at Java Jamboree. He was in town speaking on genuine wealth and happiness at the Assessment for Living workshop held at Cochrane High School.

You may recall that one of the delegates to that workshop, then-Grade 12 student Kelsey Cartwright, subsequently shared with us the impact of Mark’s thinking on her, the subject of my Sept. 16, 2009 column.

Speaking of impact, Mark wrote me about the impact on him recently of another prominent person.

“I witnessed one of the most powerful presentations on the subject of success,” Mark said, “when Tom Shadyac (movie director/producer of films like The Nutty Professor and Bruce Almighty) was in Edmonton speaking to over 1200 students at Strathcona High School, host of the Alberta Leadership Conference.

“Tom is from Malibu, Calif. His incredible near-death biking experience brought him to a place of profound understanding of life and happiness. He sold his multi-million-dollar Malibu home and moved into a trailer park in Malibu. Since then he has produced the films I AM and Happy.”

(To view an interview with Tom Shadyac on his life-changing experience, click here.)

“What is unique about Tom is how he has woven his faith and work together,” Mark added. “Tom says, 'Jesus is my favourite person; that's why I've worn my hair long for all my life.’”

And not surprisingly, Jesus is also Mark’s favourite person.

From that perspective, Mark went on to comment on Lori Craig’s reference to icebergs and success in last week’s column.

“The iceberg metaphor reminded me of the lotus flower image I use to portray individual and community wellbeing,” Mark said.

“I've recently learned that the word 'flourish' is related to the idea of flowering or blossoming. When we experience the full potential of our gifts (including the gifts of God’s Spirit) – the four aspects of emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing – we flourish. This is why the lotus flower is a perfect image.

“Moreover, it is the 'sun' that our flower orients to, as it opens up in gratitude and giving, with each petal of our wellbeing extended like outstretched arms.”

It’s really all about God, Mark says.

“This makes the words of Jesus about success so poignant. He reminds us to 'consider the lilies (flowers) of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.'

“Success is defined by abandonment to grace and humility – and more importantly, to love, without end and without condition. For like the sun, God's love is unconditional and everlasting, allowing our being and gifts to flourish/flower each day when the sun rises again.”

Thanks, Mark. More responses next week.


© 2013 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page