Monday, June 14, 2010

Redefining Success and Happiness

I've added a description to the blog - redefining success and happiness - which I think is apropos to my situation and therefore my subject matter here.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I thought happiness could be derived through vocational success (i.e. more money.) Money would afford me the ability to have more toys, travel more often and more luxuriously, eat better food, drink better wine and generally buy more joyous experiences. However, as noted previously, I've actually been decreasing the amount of stuff that I own and increasing the amount that I'm doing with what I already own and I'm feeling happier every day.

So if happiness isn't about stuff and is about doing, then should I measure my success by the amount of money that I make? If no, they how should success be measured? Even Merriam-Webster includes "the attainment of wealth" in their definition. Continuing down the definitional path (last link to a dictionary for today, I promise) wealth is an "abundance of valuable material possessions or resources." The crucial word in this definition seems to be or and I think the the key to redefining success will be uncovering the resource(s) I will aspire to attain.

How do you define success?


  1. I once heard someone say "Success isn't getting what you want, but wanting what you have."

  2. Just last night, I wrote about this very subject in a letter to Theadra! What an uncanny universal connection moment.

    I hear you, brother. Being one who has chosen to effectively make very little money for the rest of my life (and sometimes even spend a lot to get to do this), I know very well how money doesn't do much for happiness, and therefore, it has little to do with my definition of success.

    Success to me, depending on the day, occurs when I do something healthy for myself, for those I love, and for the world each day. Sometimes, the same thing works for all: riding my bike makes me feel good, which makes me more patient and calm toward those around me, and it saves gas and doesn't contribute to traffic congestion. Success is making enough time in my morning to sit outside in the sunshine and read for 20 minutes.

    Granted, I do often struggle with our lack of finances because I too love travel, good food, and wine. Does that mean that it's more meaningful for me when I can get it? I suppose so. Plus, I do learn a lot from creative accounting, or ways to get money for free or find free fun (we have lots of free summer concerts and whatnot that I am attending this summer, for example).

    I once read that experiences we purchase that make memories rather than increase our stuff (say a night at a concert versus a new outfit) comparatively increases our satisfaction and lessens consumer guilt. I try to remember that when I think, "I really want a pretty couch that doesn't look like something a friend gave us because we were too broke to buy a nice couch."

    Your blog is awesome, and I am going to start reading more (I posted anonymously because I don't have any accounts of my own). You have a knack for reflection, and I love hearing about your personal journey this way. Keep up the good soul work--you are inspiring me to do the same.

    Now, if only I could get back to yoga...