Have you ever wondered about what defines success? If success is what we are striving toward, how do we really become successful in life? As a college student, I have asked myself this.
I have questioned which degree to declare, which career path to pursue and what my role in this life is. Success is a journey and a process which comes through finding lasting joy, impacting the lives around us positively and leaving the world better than we found it.
Success is not something we simply stumble upon. Triumphantly finishing your finals takes work. Getting yourself up in the morning takes work. Are these things the definition of success? I believe success is not an event but an entire process. Success depends on our direction and on what we ultimately look to achieve. Are we doing it all for a grade or are we working to learn? Does success have to do with a credit count or with merely having the ambition to develop and improve? Deep down, all anyone wants is happiness. Happiness is found by making an impact and flourishing through human connection.
Human connection is essential in life. For example, newborns seek the connection of other humans. One of the first things doctors do after a newborn is born is to place the child on their mother’s chest. Simply touching and hearing their mother’s heartbeat brings a newborn comfort. Just as we learn from the start of human life, we also learn from the end of it.
When connecting with the elderly, they tell us to pay attention to those outside of ourselves. At the culmination of their lives, we honor their success with a funeral. They have victoriously made it to the end and we talk about the ways they have impacted us. We exchange heartfelt memories involving their character and love. Is this what success is? Is it getting to the point where people celebrate our existence, even after we are gone? Success in life is about pausing and noticing those around you, impacting them, living and feeling.
Some may say success is an individual matter, arguing it has little to do with others’ opinions and more to do with how we view ourselves. Although it is important to feel satisfied with the lives we live, I think everything we do in life comes back to the people around us.
For example, if success for a person is becoming a lawyer, what does that person do once they gain the title? They don’t hang the plaque on their wall and simply stare at it, but they use the certification to impact others. There would be no need for lawyers if there were no other people. The same idea goes for a doctor, a teacher or an engineer. Whether we like it or not, life is a team effort.
Success in life can only be reached through the help of others, as they are the ones who will remember our successes after we are gone. We will feel fulfilled in this life when we have created a life worth living. We become successful when we can say, “because of me, this world is a better place.” Success means we have overcome the temptation of living a “go-go-go” lifestyle as society tells us to, and have seen the true beauty of the little moments. Success means we have discovered the joy and beauty of stopping, taking a great big whiff and smelling the roses.