Living in the United States, I’m very familiar with external standards of success. Success is defined by how much you have, and the status gained by having it. If we see someone driving an exotic car, wearing fancy clothes and jewelry, and living in a mansion, we automatically think they’ve achieved success. I’m not saying they haven’t, but measuring success by what someone owns is a good way to become envious of it. We’re also tacitly endorsing success belonging to those who have reached their goals, leaving the ones that have not to be considered unsuccessful. We cite lack of education, money, influence, and ambition all as clear signs of failure. Please note that every mention of success that I’ve made so far is measure outside of oneself. They are external and a concept of the ego. They say that self-esteem is dependent upon having things or being seen in a positive light. But the very achievements we base our idea of success on are not permanent. We’ve all seen people that are on top of the world one day and homeless the next.
There is a larger problem I see with material and power based judgments of success; there are plenty of people that follow the script perfectly, but just haven’t made it. They work hard day in and day out, but are never noticed. It seems that the role of luck is significant in our lives. Luck and chance can influence our external success significantly.
I view success as living a life of peace, fulfillment, and meaning, that produces as much pleasure and as little pain as possible while loving yourself. If you love yourself, giving back, and contributing to the lives of others, then you’re successful (IMO). This does not mean that if you don’t love yourself yet that you are a failure. You just haven’t learned how to do so yet. When you live a life of being, you have more control than you would a life of doing. You can always be successful in the eyes of the most important person – you.
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