Q & A: How does one define success in life?

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In developed countries, it seems that many people are driven towards a financially-free life. Even in developing countries, people are aspiring towards a better life in terms of financial achievements. Is this true success?

Well, I feel that the environment where you live in determines – to a large extent – what you call success. But of course the media plays a large part in this aspect as well.

For most mainstream media, the emphasis is on successful individuals but the basis is almost always financial. Investors. Businessmen. Entrepreneurs. Sportspeople.  It’s a great thing since featuring such individuals aspires us towards greater heights.

Then of course, there are interviews with academic luminaries where their views are sought on issues of current affairs. This is also encouraging since we should all aspire to be lifelong learners and we should always keep ourselves updated on current happenings to stay relevant in the workplace and in life.

However, the issue is that money does not equate to success. If you were to run a check through quotes on sucess online, you would probably have come across quite a number of accomplished individuals who had mentioned this.

You can have money and not feel like you are a success. This is because you might like to want more. And this becomes a virtual cycle.  I figure you know where I am getting at here.

Yeah, right. You meant contentment? 

Right, right.

We should aspire to greater heights whenever we achieve our goals. However, success has no ends since it has no definite definition, so we should be grateful for what we have achieved as well as being content with what we have now.

“Drive is a tricky business and we should strike a balance between achieving and being content.”

Most importantly, we must be happy with who we are. There are some of us who define our self identity with our success. But there are always ups and downs in life. If we are our success, would that make us less of who we are when we fail? And more of who we are when we succeed? This doesn’t make sense.

And when we talk about success, I can’t help but bring in happiness.

This is because some people equate happiness to success but this is not really so. Such individuals will strive and expect to be successful all the time and not some of the time, which is not possible.

“Success does make one happy for a while but if one cannot maintain one’s success or if one constantly strives for greater success, then one’s happiness actually fluctuates over time.”

So, the questions goes back to: do you want to be successful or happy? 

No, of course not.

Let’s not draw a dichotomy between success and happiness, as there are none. In fact, I would like all of us to be both successful and happy, with the latter taking precedence over the former.

It’s a matter of being content and celebrating every small achievements that we had and will have, that makes one happy. So, in this way. we  use success as a platform to create happiness.

But of course, there are more factors contributing to happiness, such as gratitude, contentment, spending time with loved ones, pursuing one’s interests and many more. So, we should not be fixated on success alone. Else, a primary focus on success alone will be detrimental to one’s happiness.

So, contentment rather than success is key to happiness, is this what you are saying?

Yes, absolutely.

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