Every single day we are told to be the best we can be. Our friends push us, our family pushes us, society pushes us, all under the guise of this one belief: success breeds happiness.
We are told that successful people are the happiest people. We are shown wealthy, smiling faces in the media, told stories of the success and fame and fortune of those individuals the world over, and made to feel like we too need to achieve this in order to be the happiest we can be. For our lives to be fulfilling, we need to try our very best, at everything we do, every day.
Now let me be the first to say this: holy smokes does that get tiring…
Yet, in order to achieve what the media deems as, “the goal,” we must. Be beautiful. Be famous. Be rich. Ultimately, be “successful.”
But what is success?
What defines a successful person:
Is it the career we have, the house we live in, or the car we own? Is it the hair cut we sport, the clothes we wear, or how much money we have in the bank? Is it our position in the hierarchy of society, is it our power, or is it our happiness?
Success is not black and white. Achieving something doesn’t make you successful, just like becoming rich and powerful doesn’t make you successful. Succeeding is a state achieved from a set goal having been met. Someone who aims for straight A’s through college and achieves them is successful. Someone who plans to have a wife, and a family, and a cozy house, and then obtains those things, is successful.
Simply being happy for some, is success.
So why in our society do we paint such a diverse image of success? Well, in truth, we don’t. You have to look beyond the marketing ploys and see the people responsible. You have to bend the image portrayed by the media to look past it and see the truth.
Success is a mindset.
When we are young, we are told to do our best: our parents and grandparents, teachers and peers, all rooting for us and urging us onward— to be better and better and better and better. They only wanting what is best for us, what will make us the most happy; and we, only wanting to take a break and breathe.
The pressures to succeed can be overwhelming. When you feel like the only person telling yourself to slow down, it can often feel like you are slacking— even if you are not.
Though our friends and family care for us and want only what’s best, their constant reinforcement can become too much pressure. We can feel so overwhelmed with everyone else’s cares and desires that we begin trying not for ourselves, but for them. This is a recipe for disaster, because somewhere down the line we realize what we have been doing, and this is one of the most soul crushing things to experience; knowing that you have not been doing what you want, but what others want of you.
Success comes in multiple forms. We often equate success with one of the many things I listed earlier; money, power, status, fame, etc. However, these things are not what make a successful person successful.
Success is a mindset, remember— one that we constantly have to keep in check, because it falters under pressure. Success is not achieved in a straight line. It is achieved through constant failure and constant set-backs, by staying determined and consistent, and by overcoming any obstacles in your way until you reach a place where you feel like you can stop.
Men, like women, are constantly under pressure to succeed–– to BE something else; more in shape, make more money, get a better career, live in a better house, have better things, etc. For some reason, the world is under the impression that only the best creates happiness. Only once we’ve reached the top can we turn and face the world and say ‘I’m successful.’
Success for each of us is specific to the individual and varies based on time. I had a successful drive to work this morning. It wasn’t in a Bentley, nor was it to a six figure corporate job, NOR was it my last day and a retirement party— it’s just another day of work; but, the point is that success can be measured in moments that make us feel good:
Waking your kids to see them smiling and not too sick for school. Leaving your wife a breakfast so good that she texts you how much she loved it later on. Throwing a paper ball into your wastebasket and making the three points from your desk.
Success is truly in the small things. The things that get you through the day. The things that make you smile. The things that make you happy.
So how do we combat the pressures of the world driving us towards our success? How do we know when a helpful hand has become a harmful hand? How do we continue to be successful, even when we start to feel beaten down and fall behind?
Take a deep breath and exhale. Are you ready? This answer is going to blow your mind…
We are creatures of time. We scurry here and there, always rushing, always in a hurry to be somewhere or do something; but for what? We are constantly striving to be successful so that we no longer have any work to do. We have a goal, a place to reach, and we imagine that once we reach it, we will no longer have to work hard. Our entire lives we wait for the next thing— we work towards the next goal. Instead of stopping to smell the grass, we merely tromp through to the parking lot in search of our car. Always somewhere to go. Always something to do.
Relax. Life is long. Pushing yourself so hard that you keep falling is a waste, when you could alternatively take a day off and complete the same task with a fresh mind. The true goal, is not to be overwhelmed. Carrying too much weight, too much pressure, can turn a successful venture into failure, right quick. We must know balance in all things.
Balance your mind. Balance the flow of pressure. Balance your desires and your energy. Success is measured by how something makes you feel— which makes personal success, first and foremost, the most important kind of success.
Previously published on Goodmenproject.com