Success is an interesting concept to consider because it’s definition is hyper-variable from person to person. My copy of The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as:
“The accomplishment of an aim or purpose”
You may be surprised as to how general that definition is. Of course, when we talk about success in general we are talking about the success of one’s life; how satisfied we are with the accomplishment of our own personal goals. These vary from person to person from happiness to love, sex, money, power, changing the world, having kids, marriage, having material published in their name – the list is endless. But is there a right or wrong answer?
Arguably, as you define these goals yourself, you can’t be wrong. If you achieve them, then you’ve had a successful life. I, however, would counter this by saying that if you are dissatisfied with achievements of your own personal aims then they become null and void – the goals that you set yourself were an inaccurate portrayal of your desires in the first place. In this way, success in life for all human beings can be defined as the achievement of happiness and satisfaction with the way they have lived their life. The method in which you think you’ll achieve that is irrelevant.
A wise man once said “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You can always have a fairly good idea as to where your desires lay but whether they offer you fulfillment and satisfaction is another matter. You may think you know what will make you happy but people often realise that they’ve made a mistake with what they choose to invest in. A heroin addict will do anything to acquire their next fix, it becomes their goal, their aim. As this addict dies alone, having robbed their own mother for that last opium infused ‘happiness’, I wonder are they feeling satisfaction with the achievement of their goal. The same goes for the money-crazed business tycoon, the power-hungry dictator, the sex-obsessed nymphomaniac. Satisfaction isn’t in many of the things that make us feel good in the moment.
The temporary nature of these dopamine stimulants lead us into forgetting about the importance of personal relationships, something that, for most people, remain an importance until the day they die. It’s a common saying that in a moment of true helplessness, when people feel like their life is over or ruined, they cry out for their mother. It doesn’t matter who you are, humans are social creatures. You will always hold an attachment for people, it’s embedded in your consciousness.
I strongly believe that if important relationships with people are left damaged or broken then you will not be truly satisfied with how you have lived. Even then, I think you will struggle with the concept of those relationships ceasing to exist. For me, recognising the importance of relationship is what led me to a relationship with the divine. There’s something about human relationship that’s more than just the nerve-mediated contractions and secretions of the human body, something that I don’t think dies with the body. Success for me is maintaining that relationship, keeping it healthy because it doesn’t end for me. When I speak my last words, I die satisfied and fulfilled. I have achieved success in personal relationship.