Written by Evi Idoghor
How do you define success? A million views on a viral video? 1000 comments on an article, or a high-paying job? Everyone defines success differently. For some, the definition might include the amount of money in their bank account, the number of followers they have on social media, or the level of influence they have on a group of people. In the world of social media—a place where people flaunt their material possessions and exotic vacations, some might equate all of that to being successful. However, that is not what life is all about.
Sometimes, I catch myself comparing my life to the people I follow on social media, desiring the things that they flaunt for us to see. I used to be discontent with my life and wanted to be someone who could just hop on a plane and travel to any part of the world. I once measured success by material and superficial possessions. I failed to see how blessed I was—having a family that loves me, and friends that would stop at nothing to come to my aid if I ever needed it. I remembered my blessings which made me content with my life.
As such, I had to redefine what success means to me. I have seen many young people who are hungry for more in their lives, and as a result, they turn to various ways to get to the top quickly. While there is actually nothing wrong with aspiring for more; if you have to steal, cheat and oppress your way to the top, then there is a huge problem.
A famous fashion blogger passed away from cancer at 40 years old. In one of her last posts, she wrote, “I have a brand new car parked outside that can’t do anything for me; I have all kinds of designer clothes, shoes, bags, that can’t do anything for me. I have money in my account that can’t do anything for me; I have a big well-furnished house, that can’t do anything for me.
Look, I’m lying here on a twin-size hospital bed; I can take a plane any day of the week if I like but that can’t do anything for me. So do not let anyone make you feel bad for the things you don’t have, but the things you do have, be happy with those. If you have a roof over your head, who cares what kind of furniture is in it? The most important thing in life is love. Lastly, make sure you enjoy the ones you love and don’t give up on them.”
She indeed shared a powerful message. We now live in an age where comparison is one of our most significant issues, all because of social media. People are discontent with their own realities based on what others post online. We must be careful. At the end of the day, what truly matters is our relationships, impacts on others, and living a life full of purpose. No one thinks about material things (except how to distribute them) when they are near the end of their lives. If all you have is material possessions, you will pass away full of regrets.
We can often be misled by observing, and even being jealous of other people’s wealth and accomplishments. Sometimes, we think if we have all of that, then we also will be termed successful or become happier. However, there are many wealthy and influential people who aren’t happy. We’ve all woken up to the news of famous people (who we believe have everything) taking their own lives. Clearly, money and fame are not metrics that should define success.
Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of The Huffington Post, said in an interview that money and power are not enough metrics to define success––there must be a third. The third metric, according to her, consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. I completely agree with her, because some people in the quest for success, money, fame, or power neglect the things that really matter.
No matter how much money or influence you have, if you don’t have good health and more importantly—love, then you have nothing.
This point reminds me of a passage from the Bible that reads: “Beloved, I pray that you prosper in all things, and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Your physical and mental health must be sound, for you to have an effective life. Both have to work hand in hand as you make your mark in the world. And if you’re not seeking wisdom during the process, then it’s easy for you to stray down the wrong path.
There is always room for growth, so you must maintain that child-like wonder along the way because you haven’t seen it all. Also, if you are accumulating a large amount of wealth and aren’t giving back to society, then you are doing a great disservice to the world. Acts of giving help provide meaning and purpose to our lives; even when you do something as little as putting a smile on someone’s face—you have accomplished something great.
Regardless of your definition of success, ensure you pursue things that are meaningful. We all have a purpose and should strive to accomplish that. We must influence people positively along the way, by thinking not only of ourselves along this journey but others who are tied to our lives. This quote sums up the point I am trying to pass across—“If your prayers get answered today, would it change only your life or the lives of others as well?”
So how do you define success? It is perfectly okay for our answers to be different; however, we each must define this free from the pursuit of material possessions and the comparison of others’ successes. It should be full of compassion and less of selfishness. Nonetheless, how we choose to define success will influence the direction of our lives and shape the marks we leave in this world more than we can even imagine.
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