What is Success, Anyway?

I talked to a friend the other day about success, and she said that she has been frustrated by how she has always defined success. Her definition was someone who was entrepreneurial, or someone who has clear focus and determination to start something big. I spoke to another friend about success just before that and she said that she feels unsuccessful because she doesn’t have enough money to move out of her parent’s house yet. And even before that, a friend told me he feels unsuccessful because his photos don’t always come out how he hopes.

The problem is not that we have hopes and dreams, it is that we measure those hopes and dreams against how someone else has defined success. And the funny thing is, that definition will always change. We will agree with some people and disagree with others. We will form our own opinions and those opinions will change. We constantly chase those new definitions, and we constantly change them.

What if we stopped thinking about success at all? What if we took that out of the equation? That is a very difficult thing to do in the society we live in. People are constantly flaunting their success on the internet. Magazines feature the “most beautiful people” on their covers. We watch reality TV shows and wonder why our lives aren’t so amazing. We constantly compare, and at the heart of those comparisons is the basic question: Who is more successful? Me or them?

Who cares about success? When all is said and done, and we’ve gone to our graves, no one cares about how much money you had, or how famous you were, or anything else for that matter. You are the only one living life every single day, every single moment, with yourself. You are your best ally and friend. You are the one who is going to get up in the morning, try hard, and go to sleep at night. So erase the word “success” from your vocabulary and try replacing it with something more productive: happiness, for example. Or love. Or meaning. Or…Anything at all.

Because we don’t have the time to waste on thinking about something so intangible and destructive. Success is a word that inherently means competition and comparison. The only reason we understand how to measure success in society is because we are fed a daily dose of news about who is successful and who is not, and we are taught to judge those people based on that. From there we are taught to be those people, and to strive for more, and to allow success to define who we are.

Focus on bliss.

Follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say.

Find what it is that makes you whole, and become that.
Chase it.
Let it fill you.

 

  • November 4, 2014 - 7:56 am

    Margherita Introna - Bravo!!! I almost leapt up from my seat when I read this!ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 8:40 am
  • November 4, 2014 - 8:55 am

    Jen Sulak - love love love…i just defined mine last week…and it all has to do with RELATIONSHIPS……………………

    here is what i wrote:
    “I feel successful when: i don’t follow trends and have successful relationships. I also feel successful when I’m leaving others better off when I’ve found them. (in other words, encouraging the best out of someone! giving all the love i have to give)ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 9:01 am

    Samantha S. - Seriously in tears. How do you constantly write such beautiful soul inspiring advice? Kudos to you for being so in touch with who you are and what you are doing to teach others the same values and beliefs. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 9:03 am

    Paulo Alexandre Carvalho - I can only say the following: magnificent and beautiful words! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Nikki Mulkern - I can’t even describe how much I loved reading this!!!
    Thank You!!!!ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 9:17 am

    kim ackerman - success is when a concept photo shoot comes to life, that new cake you made tastes delicious, your kids are good, honest people…money is an added bonus if you can aquire it. I am tired of people asking me how my business is doing, and if I’m making money? I LOVE what I do, do they?? LUV U BROOKE!ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    Beate - Great post Brooke and thank you for sharing!
    To me success is accepting my failures and being able to move on and improve. The feeling of happiness I get after conquering my own hurdles is a good driving factor for me. I just need to learn not to put too many hurdles in my path – something I find quite difficult.
    I agree that it is challenging to stay focused about my own personal achievements rather than be affected by the success of others around me, may it be in my immediate environment or stories read and heard from the various kinds of media. However, I always tell myself that these people have their hurdles as well and good on them for conquering them.ReplyCancel

  • November 4, 2014 - 1:27 pm
  • November 4, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    Jérôme - Thank you for this nice topic : ) at least we are maybe more to think that our life will be more benefic for ourselves in removing this word from it.
    Having the courage not to compare us to anybody help us really to enhance our own personality, feeling and realize wonderful things.ReplyCancel

  • November 5, 2014 - 2:41 am

    Julene Evans - I needed to hear this today. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • November 5, 2014 - 6:09 am

    Mary-Claire - You have just made me realize that I have never thought about whether I was a success…

    I guess I gauge myself on how well I take care of my family and how I feel about my images and work I’ve done as how I’ve impacted others (hopefully in a positive fashion). And I always strive to be better.

    But am I successful? I have no idea! 😀ReplyCancel

  • November 6, 2014 - 12:06 pm

    michaeljohn - To wake up in the morning and be above the ground, is all you need to be a success.
    The rest of the day, well that’s up to you.ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 11:07 am

    Kayla Dawn Thomas - My writing career hasn’t been moving fast enough to meet my definition of success. Am taking some time to reflect on where I’ve been so far on my journey and realizing there is a lot more success there than I originally thought. Reworking my definition of success as we move toward the end of 2014. I have a feeling 2015 is going to look and feel a lot different. There will definitely be more peace and joy.ReplyCancel

  • November 20, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    Juan Ortega - I agree 100% , i erased that word from my mind back in 1968 ,i was 15 years old , and i am happy and living a full life thanks to that, i only compete with myself, trying to be better every day .BTW do you know that you are a soul that used to live in the 60s.
    Thanks for your teachings they are great, not only the photo lessons but the spirit lessons
    ThanksReplyCancel

  • November 25, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    Howard Koor - Lovely advice.

    Follow your energy…..ReplyCancel

  • November 27, 2021 - 12:00 am

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