Photo by Nityia Photography
                                Dora Gyarmati.

Photo by Nityia Photography Dora Gyarmati.

Redefine goals based on virtues to find joy | Health column

A monthly column about mindfulness and wellbeing.

  • Wednesday, September 11, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

I left you last month with some journaling homework around goal setting. But as I turned in my article, I realized I did not give you enough tools for smart goal setting.

Even though the Eastside Reporter newspapers are super patient with me because I overstep my monthly-column word allowance all the time, I still find it hard to squeeze everything in a single article. Looking at the bright side, I hope that keeps you reading.

Let’s revisit goal setting one more time because getting the right mindset for target achievement can make or break a person, sometimes for life.

From last month’s article, we already know that it is crucial to examine our goals, to get clarity on why and how we want to achieve our vision — to focus not just on the target but also on the journey, on the process. But believe it or not, if you get stuck in the materialistic external, performance-oriented mindset, even if you achieve your goal, you will still be unhappy.

The ultimate satisfaction in life comes not from external achievements but rather from internal, “moral joys” — this is what David Brooks writes about in his book “The Road to Character.”

In our culture there is an abundant focus on what Mr. Brooks calls “resume-based virtues,” that is external-action-driven, production-driven traits. Most of the self-help book section is about how to make you more successful, more beautiful and more abundant. We seldom talk about “eulogy-based virtues,” meaning human traits that one would be remembered upon death. Eulogy-based virtues examples are humility, convictions, wit, empathy and relatedness.

Our current culture glorifies the self, Instagram, and the selfie-stick is the pinnacle representation of the self-oriented phenomenon. We praise materialistic achievement and celebrate everything with a trophy. Humility as a virtue is all but forgotten.

Ironically, we are never remembered for our resume.

During a eulogy, one talks about relationships. When we remember a loved one at a funeral, we talk about their character, their morality, how they were relatable, lovable and honorable. These are not necessary characteristics that would make a person successful financially, and definitely not things highlighted on social media, but these are traits that make a person “rich” in humanity. Often to succeed in moral virtues of human character, one must struggle, fail and humbly bow to adversity. It is adversity that builds and creates depth and moral integrity (adversity as necessity is a whole separate article, but let me not digress). One may or may not succeed on a resume and have nothing to brag about on Twitter, but still feel at the end of life, that they lived with integrity, depth and meaning.

On the other hand, success on resume-based virtues can lead to a significant weakness such as pride, self-centeredness, and at the end of life despite all the success one can feel hollow and alone.

Of course, ideally, we somehow keep both resume and eulogy-based virtues in balance. We may aim to have it all, but I say that is impossible. Character and morality often face materialistic world in opposition. For a lucky few they may not contradict, but for most of us, there is often a choice, and going against one’s integrity — despite all worldly success — always leaves one empty.

That is why we need to redefine our goals based on virtues. We don’t talk much about virtues in our society anymore. The word has been reduced to prudish associations. But moral attributes are the thing that gives meaning to our life.

What moral characteristics are vital to you? What are your convictions? What personality traits will you have to cultivate to achieve your practical career goal? Focus on that, live your life daily according to moral integrity, and no matter what happens, you will feel content. Not happy and not proud, but simply, quietly, humbly content, with no need to tell anybody of your achievement.

Dora Gyarmati teaches yoga and mindfulness classes. She owns Spira Power Yoga studios with locations in Issaquah and West Seattle. Her company M3Bmethod also lectures on resilience and stress management to corporations, communities, and hospitals.

More in Life

Business perspective for the new year | Financial advice column

A monthly business column from a local financial adviser.

Embrace the struggle for a complete picture | Health column

A monthly column about mindfulness and general wellbeing.

KCLS continuing to build connections in 2020 | Submitted content

A monthly column about library happenings.

From left: students Riley Retinger, Abby Smith, Mimmi Hubbard and Sadie Rabinowitz. Photo by Calah Webb
‘It’s one of my favorite places to be’: School of Rock Issaquah gears up for January shows

In January, students will be paying homage to the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Chris Cornell and others.

Back row, from left: Eric Vaughn, Lisa Dreher and Hope Maltz, Hideo Fujita, Sheri Campbell, Warren Mainard. Front row, from left to right: Jenny Chang, Kendy Sasaki-Ross, Rob Kamihana and Monika Kannadaguli. Photo courtesy Eastgate Expounders
More than a speaking group: Eastgate Expounders look back at 15 years

Eastgate Expounders is one of many clubs under the overarching Toastmasters International nonprofit.

Photo courtesy of Larry Snyder
                                Larry Snyder collected 4,334 pairs of socks during his fourth annual sock drive in Bellevue.
Answering the call to serve those in need

Fourth Annual Sock Drive donates 4,334 socks to CFH, The Sophia Way and Dignity for the Divas.

Photo by Nityia Photography
Three simple rules for the holiday | Health

A monthly column about mindfulness.

Nancy Kartes and Bill Willard were both original event planners of the garden light show that opened in 1994. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Twenty-five years of Garden d’Lights

Garden d’Lights runs through December 31.

Boy Scout Troop 626 kicks off Christmas tree sale

The fundraiser began on Nov. 29 and ends on Dec. 20.

Photo courtesy city of Bellevue
                                Volunteer Rob Polasek at work. The Master Naturalist program currently is accepting applications.
Master Naturalist program connects people to environment, community

The program, which enables community members to work with the parks department, started in 2009.

Photo courtesy of city of Bellevue
                                Photo from evening Cultural Conversations event.
Cultural Conversations program approaching 10th year of bringing women across the Eastside together

For nearly a decade, the program has sought to foster inclusivity and togetherness.