Success is commonly associated to a positive outcome, and even used to sum up someone's life.   For example:  "He is a very successful business man".    When you hear that about someone you may often think  "He must be rich, he must be respected, he must be happy".  Because of this, most people would like to be successful. 

How do we determine if someone is successful?   We often measure success by what someone has, and not what they have accomplished.   Here's why....  If you achieve 3 PhD's in Neurology, but have nothing but half a million dollars in student debt to show for it, how successful could you be?  It would be very difficult for someone to think you are successful when you're fighting with your roommate over who ate who's last box of Kraft Dinner.  In fact, if your life/assets fail to resemble your accomplishments, many may come to believe you are a failure at some level.    Take for example  MC Hammer.  Famous for his contributions to pop-culture such as his parachute pants, and sayings "Can't Touch This!" and "STOP! ... Hammer time!" ... he is also very well known for declaring bankruptcy as Stanley Kirk Burrell in the late 90's.   It was very hard for many to believe that such a rich and famous icon could end up like that.  Now many people do not see him as successful - but instead someone "who lost it all". 
Another example could be Oprah Winfrey.  She is one of the richest and most recognized women on television and even the world.  She is the epiphany of successful.  Why?  Not because she's intelligent (all she does is exploit people's problems and success by asking them stupid questions), not because she's beautiful, not because she invented a world altering device/medication, but because she is what everyone wants to be.    This is proof that success and how it is achieved is based on what you have.  A mere mention on her show can make you a millionaire.... in fact there are books and people who's career/job is to teach entrepreneurs how to have their merchandise picked as one of "Oprah's favorite things".   People will pay extra for an otherwise ordinary commodity JUST because Oprah likes it.  Why?  You would be retarded to think that Oprah will be your friend and share her riches because you read the same books... it's a status symbol.  If you can afford some of what Oprah has, you will appear successful to others.   It's much like why people buy houses with dinning rooms with tables big enough to sit 20 - while they only have 4 members of the family.    They want to show off to their guests.  They want people to see that they are successful.

But, (and here's where I get to my point) success does not always equal happiness.  Well, not enough to warrant society's eagerness to be what we see as "very successful".   I'll give you some examples based on my own experience. 

 Last week a guy at work bought a brand new truck (A really nice one I might add).  All of the guys at work were talking about how nice it was, and were asking him questions about it's cost, it's features, and even whether or not he picked up any chicks with it yet.  At break time him and a few guys went out to the parking lot to get a look under the hood.   He was the envy of the shop.  Even I said "must be nice".   That weekend I was in getting some overtime.  To my surprise the new truck owner came in as well.  He looked rough.  As a joke I asked him if he had a hangover from partying.  He said "No, I'm just really stressed"  
"How come?" I asked
"I think I bit off more than I can chew..... I didn't get as much as I was expecting from my old truck, and these payments are killing me..... I might have to sell and take a loss".
"I know what that's like" I explained "Sometimes you just have to do what you think is most important"
"Yeah" He sighed in a disappointing admittance to his mistake.
He still has the truck, and he still soaks in whatever compliment on it he can. 

Another guy was hired on for the winter a few days after I started.  A friend of my boss, he was hired on as a general laborer - like me.   While working together we started talking about what we do during the off-season.  Turns out he's a 2nd Engineer on a ship, and has been for 20 odd years.  This is one of the highest ranked and highest paying positions you can achieve on a freight ship.  Shit just didn't add up.  According to his position - he should be successful and shouldn't need to take an entry level position during his scheduled vacation.  Curious I asked him "You're an engineer.  Why are you working this shitty job?"  
"The wife.... or should I say 'soon-to-be-ex-wife'...." He explained,  "I'm going through a messy divorce.... I guess some women don't like it when their husband's never home..... she doesn't love me - she loves my money"
"Some things are more important than money" I said, reaching for something appropriate to say.
"Yeah, like getting away from a nagging wife, and getting a good laywer so she doesn't take my son away from me."  He said almost like a sarcastic joke.

I guess, when it all boils down to it, portraying success isn't all that it's cracked up to be.   What people think of you isn't going to change the truth.   Even the Pope has problems... if he didn't there wouldn't be bullet proof glass on the Pope-mobile.  

People look at my life and see a lack of success.  They look at what I want in life, and see a lack of ambition.  And that's ok with me.  Because I can honestly and proudly say I am happy.  I have everything I need, and the realistic expectations to appreciate it.  I have a family and boyfriend who loves me.  I have no debt.  I have no children trying to convince me that if they don't get an Ipod, that they'll be bullied at school.  I don't worry about losing my job, because I'm in a position where I will not lose all of the assets I've worked my whole life for.

If you're unhappy with your level of success, and even financial worth - Stop comparing yourself to a fantasy world that only a handful of people will ever experience.  Often times you will find that what you are really after is happiness that is falsely associated to having nice things.  No matter who you are, or what you have, there will always be hardship in your life at some point.  Our expectations/standards change as our situations and experiences change, so there will always be something wrong.  Me,  I'd rather lose a low paying job, than a high paying one. 

   I've got it made, and I don't need a new truck to prove it. 


Uploaded 02/16/2011
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