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Success & Happiness – Are these mutually exclusive or interdependent?

When I am asked this question, I always say it all depends on how you define both of these terms. Before I delve into the explanation of my response, I would like to quote the great scientist, Albert Einstein. He, famously, said – “…If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it's stupid.”

Each one of us is born unique – our abilities, strengths, weaknesses, worldview, fears, and aspirations are all unique. No two people can be completely identical, not even identical twins. Therefore, it is only fair to say that no two people can have the same measure of success. Unfortunately, this is not how it happens in the real world.

We are often driven by what we see around us – we are fed images of what success looks like. All our lives we a bombarded with measures of success as defined by other people. In academic years, success is measured against marks scored by the topper, in the professional world success is measured by higher salaries, designations, corner offices, etc., in personal life, success is measured by the right age to be married, the car you drive, the balance in your bank account, etc.

We are constantly striving to overtake the person ahead of us, only to find that there is someone else we are trailing behind. There will always be someone ahead of you in the race of life. And here we come back to the questions of success and happiness. If you are a fish and you are trying to climb a tree, you will neither be successful, nor happy. Even if you did manage to slide up the trunk a little, you will die of asphyxiation!

To be successful and happy, you have to set your own standards and measures of success. Don’t be bogged down by the measures of success defined by people around you, set your measures based on your abilities and aspirations.  You can look at others for inspiration, but never for comparison. Because, the comparison will always leave you feeling short, on the other hand, inspiration will propel you to succeed.

You are at the cusp of a big transition in your life. The choices you will make now will impact not only the quality of your life but also those around you. Learn that material success does not bring happiness - Finding a purpose in life, realizing your potential, and living in the moment do. Be happy! That is the meaning of a successful life.


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