Many articles and books are written about success. A quick google search reveals that the meaning of success is about “the attainment of wealth, position and honours”. The dictionary defines success as “attaining wealth, prosperity and/or fame”.
If this is the case, only those who own a mansion, drive a Ferrari, run a multi-million dollar company or are movie stars would be defined as “successful”. This seems to be a very superficial way of looking at success.
Sure, having money and a great job definitely makes life easier – no doubt. But there is one thing that trumps money and fame.
And that is happiness. I think we need to re-define the meaning of success and put happiness on top of the list.
The challenge we need to face is ridding ourselves of all the high expectations, judgments and pressures put upon us – even from ourselves. From an early age we get pressed into moulds and told how we should live our life to get ahead and be successful. That starts in the family and continues on at school. We need to get good grades in order to get a great job. We need to work harder to earn more money, so we can buy all those (mostly unnecessary) things that are valued. While this might be all well-meaning, statistics tells us that many people are lonely, depressed and full of anxieties. Suicide rates are up and so are the number of antidepressants sold. Are we missing the point? Have we set the expectations so high that they are just too hard to reach? By forcing us to do more and reach higher, are we setting ourselves up for a steep fall?
Success certainly is not a one-size-fits all, but I don’t think it should only be defined by money or status. Most of us will never see our names up in lights, own a huge villa in Tuscany or become the president of the United States. But this doesn’t mean we can not be successful in our own life. Everyone needs to define what success means to them individually. The question you should ask yourself is “what makes me happy?” If your answer is a big house and a red Ferrari – go for it. But it would be pretty shallow, if that is all you want. I am sure you can live a happy life without a big house and a big car. But I don’t think you can live a happy life without love, strong values, a sense of who you are, belonging, gratitude, humility and integrity. This should be the true measures of success.
So let’s re-define success by putting happiness on top and then align your life around it.
First, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (1=extremely unhappy and 10=extremely happy) on how happy you are right now.
Then answer these 2 simple questions:
What is it that makes me happy?
What does not make me happy?
Write everything down – the more specific you can be, the better.
Once you’ve got the answer to those questions, focus on the things that make you happy and find ways to change the things that don’t.
Life shouldn’t be hard. Let’s leave all the expectations, pressures and judgments behind and focus on creating a life full of love, laughter and kindness.
A life centered around happiness is surely a far greater measurement of success than a 3 story mansion.