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Why "Success" Doesn't Always Mean Happiness: Success Redefined

Success Redefined
SUCCESS! What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word success? What makes a person successful? Is it money, status, power, fame, or is it something else? The reality is, that in our Western society, most people identify success as some mixture of money, status, power, and fame (and with women, beauty is generally a necessary component to add to all of that) but is that truly success?

When I was in college and university I remember mulling over the topic of success and that's when I came to a powerful realization for myself - personal success is not defined by money, status, power, beauty or fame at all. That's what the outside world tells us or demonstrates as success. It's what we see emblazoned in ads and in our media. It's what we pass down to each other and what we talk about in social media. All of these things are what we equate with success - and success equals happiness right?

Based on our notions of success shouldn't celebrities, politicians, and top professionals (doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs...etc.) be the happiest? When we look at these people from the outside we might think that they have it all, that they have reached the pinnacle of success and their lives must be full of rainbows and sunshine. Many times that's the image they paint for us, it's what we see in the media or it's simply what we imagine their lives should be like. Yet, look at how many celebrities have had very public personal battles, committed suicide, had drug over doses or did something crazy or harmful to others. Politicians and other professionals are no exception to this and many of their own issues have been made quite public.

How can we define success as money, fame, power, status and/or beauty, if it really doesn't bring long-term happiness to the people that are graced with these things? In fact, sometimes it increases their instability and unhappiness. "Mo' money mo' problems" as Biggie would say - a famed rapper who was ultimately murdered. There is something sickeningly wrong with the way we see and define success. What's worse, that very definition destroys the happiness of many people who measure themselves up to these ideals and believe that they fall short.

For some people, their contentment is derived from simply being a stay-at-home parent. Others may choose to work a regular 9 to 5 to support what truly makes them happy in their lives, whether it's just to relax on the weekend or perhaps to fund their hobbies. Alternatively, some individuals are fulfilled by being entrepreneurs or leaders, while another group of people find purpose in being an artist, a doctor or a philanthropist. Why should our societal definitions of success detract from anyone's purpose and happiness in their lives?

We need to redefine what we consider success to be. Success should be a measure of actual happiness and fulfillment rather than a measure of fame, money, power, status and/or beauty. If we are not happy in life, what is the point of all that other stuff? Sometimes, the people we think are nothing special, are those that feel the most happiness in their lives. Why? Because they feel contentment and peace in who they are and what they have chosen to do.

In Western culture, we are in a state of perpetual unhappiness with short bursts of what seem like fulfillment. We are taught to keep chasing for more and that nothing in our lives is ever enough - that's a sentiment felt by even the most powerful and famous people out there. We need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing and stop listening to what society states is success. Instead, we need to look inside ourselves to define what success truly means to us as an individual.

It doesn't matter if you're the richest cat on the block or if you're a stay-at-home-mom. It doesn't matter if you're a cobbler or a famous actor. It doesn't even matter if you're an Instagram star or a factory worker in the boonies. None of that matters! Regardless of whether you're the President of the United States or the owner of a hot dog stand - what truly matters is that you are fulfilled and consistently happy.

Finding your purpose, utilizing your gifts and feeling contentment in your life and who you are - that is true SUCCESS and no one, I mean no one, should tell you otherwise.


What are your thoughts on this topic? I'd love to read your opinions and I'm always open to feedback! Leave a comment below.


  1. Thank you for this. It's insightful and something I needed to read.

    1. I'm so happy that this had a positive impact on you!

  2. Abigail FrancisMay 5, 2017 at 9:53 PM

    Wow this is incredibly relevant to me, I kinda appreciate you putting yourself out there and thinking out of the box about it.
    I always question myself about whether my life is considered successful or not, and it hurts me that by western standards my current lifestyle wouldn't fit the criteria. Ur post sorta inspired me to feel different. ��

    1. I thought of you when I wrote this. I know it's hard sometimes because of the social pressures we have around us. I struggle with it myself. ❤❤❤❤


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