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Knowing what success means to you sets you free and releases you from the confinement of living under someone else’s rules, expectations and mandates. What is more important? To be happy? To know the meaning of success? Or to have meaningful success? This is not a riddle, but if you look closely, you will find the difference. In this case, the order of the factors does alter the product. When we gaze at something as elusive as success, understanding the nuance can bring lots of satisfaction.
Success is very subjective. For some, it could be having money or fame, and for others, it is inner peace and deep interpersonal relations. I find there are many versions of success, but it is often linked to power and recognition, though it need not be that way all the time. If you disagree with such postulate–a sign of wisdom on your part–then you are ready to walk the path to success.
Knowing what success means to you sets you free and releases you from the confinement of living under someone else’s rules, expectations and mandates.
On the other hand, meaningful success is the advanced notion of this game. Once you’ve established what success means to you, it leads you to fight for it. It is no longer just the pleasure of being successful, but now you can devote your strength and might to attain something larger.
Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, talks about happiness in three levels. The first is the joy of a pleasant life, the one where we find positive and enjoyable experiences. The second level is the happiness of a good life using our strength to obtain gratification and doing things we like. The highest level is reached through meaningful life, in which we activate our virtues to attain an objective that goes beyond ourselves. The aim is no longer our own happiness, but also the desire to make others happy.
The same standards can be applied to success. What good is a successful life, if it is limited to the immediate pleasure and deployment of power, fame or fortune?
When in tandem, success and happiness are the results of a meaningful life, and it has nothing to do with the number of followers on social networks or a bank account. It is a matter of empathy, conscience, and a reflection of how we conduct our lives. Sadly, some of us find these ideas ethereal and intangible. They may sound good, but when it comes to defining someone (or ourselves) as a successful person, we tend to place more importance on their sexier, more coveted and striking characteristics.
You may call it bling-bling success, and it is rich and dazzling. But do not forget that success is also something you feel in your heart and it makes you whole from the inside out.
Whichever way you understand success, take it to another level. Go a little further; transform it into a meaningful, transcendental force at the service of something larger. It could be the most exciting search you’ll undertake. ■