I guess that most of us would hope that both happiness and success are the same thing. Ed came in with an article by Arthur Brooks “Success addicts choose being special over being happy” that got us thinking. The sub title to the article was…
“The pursuit of achievement distracts from the deeply ordinary
activities and relationships that make life meaningful.”
That statement was what connected with me. I have seen so many people over so many years chasing some notion of success while, at the same time, blindly destroying everything around them. All got trodden underfoot, colleagues, friends, family, loved ones. When someone is truly focussed on success and see their end goal as the most important thing in their life then nothing else really matters.
“What you feed grows and what you starve dies”
In every area of life in every situation the definition of success will vary. It might be the need to have the most money, the biggest house, the best car, to be the most famous ever, to have position and status. Success truly is in the eye of the beholder.
Are you good enough to be successful?
When we drive for success what we are saying, in one way or another, is that what we are or what we do, is not good enough. We feel a need to be different to what we are and to where we are or even who we are. I am not suggesting here that we should not have ambition or a drive for self improvement, these things are good. It is that when we seek to become the best we tend to see what is around us as not the best. That where we are and what we are is not good enough.
There is often a snobbery in people that would see themselves as more successful than others.
The key feature of mindfulness is to be at peace in the present, in the moment.
Be here now
As soon as we crave things that are other than what we are or have in the current moment we disconnect from the present. The craving for what we do not have now can lead to an aversion to what is in the now. This is often the seed of both depression from worrying about the now and anxiety for worrying about the future.
Fashion is often an accessory of perceived success
Often we define people by what they have, what they wear or where they live. Fashion and possessions are a common methods of broadcasting what success we have. designer clothing, the ‘go faster’ car model, the latest phone or iPad, the watch, the sunglasses, it all tells our story of how we see ourself and how we want you to see us.
The wise sage is often depicted in very simple and humble clothes as a demonstration that the inner world of wisdom is so more much important than the outer world ‘hey, look at me’.
Fashion feeds an inability in many people to enjoy their present moment. Their clothes are not good enough, their house is not good enough, their car is not good enough, their friends and social circle are not good enough. The real tough stuff comes when someone feels that…
…I am not good enough.
Any psychologist will tell that it is hard, if not impossible, to be successful when you feel that you are not good enough. Lack of self belief might be emotional with a lack of confidence and self esteem. It could be cognitive as in ‘I am stupid’ or ‘not clever enough’. It could be social ‘I have no friends’ or ‘my friends are good enough’. The one thing that I am seeing all around me now is ‘my body is not good enough’. It used to be that people bounced up and down on yo-yo diets needing several sets of clothes as their weight went form heavy to light and back again. This has scarily turned into a body dis morphia, ‘my body is so bad that it needs to be changed’. The cosmetic surgeons and the beauty clinicians filling people’s faces with Botox and fillers are colluding in, and reinforcing, psychological and emotional damage that could blight an entire generation or more.
Listening to people who are breaking down because their Botox is wearing off or their lips are sagging and need filling because without it they do not feel the self esteem of success and cannot leave the house. Some people cannot leave the house without make up, ‘putting their face on’. We have created so many ways of confirming to ourselves that we are not good enough. When you are not good enough you will never be, or feel, successful.
What is success?
Ed has problems with my definition that he sees as being too simplistic but, to me a successful person is some who is waking with a smile on their face feeling good about the day that they are about to have and then goes to bed with a smile on their face feeling good about the day that they have just had. To me being successful is being happy. I have worked with people who are financially, socially and famously successful who are the most miserable people that I have ever met. I have also met people on my travels who have very little other than the joy of their family and their community and they were amazingly happy.
So, for me it is not ‘is success better that happiness? It is, being happy is being successful, without happiness there is no success.
Take sometime, look at your life and ask your self the questions, ‘am I happy?’ ‘Am I successful?’
One thing that I have observed is that people that do things that make them happy often create success at the same time.