An interviewer said to Mike Tyson, “you are a great person.” Mike responded, I don’t want to be great, I want to be good. I know a lot of great people, but they aren’t good people.” This struck a chord in me; our measurements of a successful life are not always the same. We usually do so by the things we value. One person’s success may come from their achievements; while someone else sees success as being a wonderful human being. Mike Tyson at the pinnacle of his career had everything, but he has said frequently it was also the most miserable period of his life. He said he found more peace being broke than he did in his wealth. When he was rich, he was everybody’s friend, but in his times of turmoil, they all abandoned him. He fought as many opponents in the ring, but the demons he fought outside often overpowered him.
These days, Mike appears a calmer version of himself. I’m guessing he is much nicer to be around because something has changed his focus. He may not be where he wants to be just yet, but it certainly looks like he is on the way to finding what many dream about. His peace is his success, and he is proud to let the world know it. What is my idea of a successful life? Everybody will not agree with me and it’s okay; after all, different strokes for different folks. I can relate to Mike because the things I valued in the past are no longer important. I want to share what a successful life looks like to me and hope you will benefit from it:
My peace. The older I get, the more I value peace. As I live, I desire the peace which comes from God; I want to be at peace with God and thirdly; I desire peace with my community (Philippians 4: 7). Many will never experience this peace because they cannot find it in the accumulation of material things and worldly achievements. I’m not suggesting material things and achievements are not important, but I can find peace without them. It is not a strange thing that in Hebrews 12: 14 and Romans 12: 18; we are encouraged to pursue peace with everybody. If I have everything without peace, I know I will be miserable. I value my peace and I protect it as I would do my family.
My joy. For me, having joy is as important as breathing air. The joy I refer to is the feeling of good pleasure and happiness not determined by my circumstances. Because I have been through so much, I’m finding I’m unfazed by many things. I am learning to see the lesson in every situation. It is not always easy, but the longer I live, I realize there are some things about life I cannot control, therefore my choice is to learn to go with the flow. When James says we must count it all joy when we fall into trials in James 1: 2, he is encouraging us to look past present circumstances and see God at work.
My contentment. Contentment is an attitude best learned through difficult circumstances. As human beings, we are not easily satisfied because there is so much we want. If a situation determines our attitude toward life, we are going to be disappointed a lot because life is unpredictable. I’m just like everybody else, wanting a life with money, achievements, and stuff for comfort. I will work hard to achieve them, but I will not allow them to dictate my every waking moment. There is no guarantee we will be satisfied if we have everything we want because we are driven to always want more. Philippians 4: 11 Paul finds contentment outside of his circumstances. When he says I can do all things through Christ, he is explaining in every situation he has learned how to be satisfied. It doesn’t always work, but I am learning to be satisfied regardless of what situation I am facing.
My faith. Hebrews 11: 1 no faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. This verse reminds me to have hope in every situation, even if I am unsure of the outcome. As I strive for success and abundant living, I am more aware I have to trust where God is leading me. Sometimes the path He leads me is not the one I would take on a good day, but I am confident he knows best. 2 Corinthians 5: 7 faith teaches me I am walking not by what I can see before me, but trust in the insight of a God who has never failed. If I cannot learn to trust God, whatever success I have will be incomplete.
Like Mike, I am working towards an uncomplicated life. I want to live and when I finally close my eyes in death; I am satisfied because I have lived my best life. It’s ok if you find my view of life simplistic, but it works for me. I’ve tasted success at many levels, but keep coming back to the place of my peace, my joy, my contentment, and my faith. With all the challenges I experience daily, I have never been happier. Like Mike, my focus has changed. I am so much better because of it.