When I ask people, adults in their 40s and 50s and beyond if they feel they are successful in life, very few people answer in the affirmative. Most people would go on to say, I built a house, have a car, have some money in the bank, so perhaps I can say, I have been successful but I don’t feel successful. When I look at some of my classmates, I feel I could have done better.”
Most people equate success with financial success. The reason is a financial success is easily measurable. We can put a number to wealth. Numbers can be compared and you can say you are more successful than your cousin.
But, financial success is only one kind of success in life. There are many areas in our lives where we are successful but don’t pay attention to it.
If a person, man or a woman has raised children and the children have gone on to have their own independent positive life, that is a huge success. In a world where there are so many temptations and so many dead ends, if their children are walking on streets without dead ends, no matter the career, no matter the prestige, no matter the money they earn, that is a success for parents. If you don’t believe that talk to a parent whose child has gone astray. Those parents would give anything for a normal path for their children. Just normal path.
If you have built wonderful relationships with people in your life, where people seek you out and you seek them out, you have been a great social success. A big chunk of our happiness comes from meaningful, joyous and conflict-free relationships in our lives.
If you have devoted time, money, energy to help people around you - both known and unknown people you have been a tremendous success as a community member. You have empowered people in your own way and that is a crown you can wear.
If you have been part of some cause - rescuing animals, saving trees, cleaning up the environment, building better civic amenities, awareness campaigns on public matters, you have been a success in doing things bigger than an individual.
If you have nurtured someone sick (friend, family member) back to health if you are taking care of senior citizens you are a success at a community level.
It is important that we should be aware that success and failure cannot be defined only in terms of measurable quantities like money and qualifications. Success as a parent, success as a son/daughter, success in terms of championing causes, success in terms of working for the community and larger family are all successes though we cannot put a number to them. In this context, someone rightly said, things that can be counted don’t matter, things that matter cannot be counted.