The Obsession with Success
The celebrity culture, the burnishing of the tech billionaires, the triumph of sports, all have had an impact on the way we look at success.
Fuelled further by the deluge of social media posts, the triumphalism of travel with its bucket list commitments and Instagram posts, and the competition to be part of the jet-set, some of the most popular cities are now unable to cope with the onslaught. The tourist experience degraded.
A World Built on Selfies
The evidence of success is now so pervasive that it is becoming meaningless in any usual sense. We must all be celebrities, at least to our families, which means the endless seeking of approval and chasing praise from anyone as a measure of success. A world built on a pyramid of selfies, where we affirm our triumph at least six times a day and show how successful we are through Facebook or Instagram.
Who cares about what the Kardashians do? I haven't opened a single post on them, and I know many friends who haven't, and they're fine.
Society, however, pays off this silly-success so strongly and forgets other areas of success. Success has become an obsession for many, resulting in crimes, and some say the destruction of the family role as it becomes a praise machine for children's "success."
Defining Success for Ourselves
What is obsession? According to the Dictionary, it is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind.
The obsession with having these fashionable top branded clothes and bags, the biggest house, the most expensive car, the highest paying job, the exclusive memberships, the trophy husband, and more is endless.
How hungry we indeed are for the evidence of success as if nothing can ever satisfy our needs. Is this all there is, or can the realization of how we have been manipulated by silly images be the catalyst to move us from the brass ring of superficiality to achieve more and develop our definition of success?
If buying things and chasing other peoples' dreams is what moves you to accomplish your goals, hunker down, and pursue the Amazon purchasable dream. But if you want to provide well for your family, give children values and define success as what you do to help others achieve, it's time to move on.
When you realize that your neighborhood is the second level of family and helping others is a cornerstone value that you can teach by being generous, you are ready for a new direction. For some of the very wealthy, we see this now, as many share whatever wealth they have achieved with those who need help, by providing excellent health and education. It is what drives them to go beyond what is possible.
Carefully defining success for ourselves is crucial. Climbing up a ladder to the top rung and finding the ladder is on the wrong building is heartbreaking. Think clearly and carefully define your idea of success. Pick the right structure.
The Obsession to Get Better
The obsession with purchasable success has made those unable to compete depressed. Many young people are taking opioids for depression. As the impossibility of the purchasable dream becomes evident, anger, depression, and self-delusion take over.
On the other hand, there is an obsession that drives people to get better, to be more than what they are now, to give their families a better life than what they have had, and to give their children a better education. With a solid definition of success, they spend their time and energy to develop a more sensible world. What's wrong with this?
Where Do We Stand?
Obsession can be useful. It pushes us to succeed and to achieve more. It is when we allow others to determine for us what we value in life or what is valuable in life and drive ourselves to accomplish those regardless of its impact on our personal experience, then, it has to stop.
Most of us just let our friends' choices dictate what shoes to buy, let our neighbors determine what cars to have, and let those glossy magazines make us buy things we don't need.
Because we want to belong, we don't want others to look down on us. We want to be the ones looking down on them. We say to ourselves, "Once I get to have the biggest house on the block and the best car, too, I'll stop."
Time to assess where we stand. Are we to feed this obsession created by the market or focus our energy in a better direction?
Tips on How to Deal with this Success Obsession
1. Post on social media alternative ways of success
Today on Twitter, someone posted a picture of an old WW2 soldier marching to celebrate in an anniversary parade. She posted it and remarked that no one retweeted it, so she did. Yes, we do retweet what would give us more likes, more recognition.
2. Ask why and for whom you're doing things
We traveled to Croatia and Spain in November and December, and because it was a bit chilly, we were always with our coats. We could wear the same clothes underneath, and nobody would notice. Because we were still moving from city to city, we did not want to carry enormous suitcases from the parking lot to the hotel. All those clothes we packed were so unnecessary. Before we do things, ask why we are doing it and for whom we are doing it.
That's in travel, but in our homes, how many things have we not used in several years? For some people, how many of your houses have you not gone through completely in the last two years? How much of your jewelry haven't you used in years? How many of your bags have gone out of fashion before you have used them five times? Why are you buying new items when they are not needed?
The temptation to buy is all around us. The bargains are just too good to pass up. It takes strong discipline to walk through those stores, putting out deals at the end of the season. But ask yourself before you go in. Do you need it, or is it one of those things you might need in case something comes up?
3. Live your values
For some of us, this is not clear. What we stand for and what we truly value remains a mystery. So, here's what I suggest. Make a list of ideas, things, experiences that are or were important to you. One by one, eliminate what you no longer use. What's left? Take a look. You may want to add something that you think is more important. Maybe, you need to refine your list, but it gives you a peek right now of what is essential. Start offering this your time and energy.
4. Share your Success
See what you can do for those who don't enjoy what you have and share with them. It doesn't have to be money. It could be attention, time, recognition.
5. Be with people who value what you value
Associate with people who value the same things as you do. Then, you choose the things that are of value to you both.
There can be as many definitions of success as there are people. Design your own, or you will never be satisfied. Happiness is planned, not purchased.