We all want to be successful. We’re all pushed to be successful, so we can be easily identified as either winners or losers. And we struggle all our lives to get into the winner’s team to be accepted, loved and admired. But have we ever stopped to think and define what exactly does it mean to be successful?
In this culture, we measure success in terms of fame, fortune, reputation, recognition. All external things. Most of these things are directly linked in our minds to happiness. We’re told via everything that surrounds us that if we obtain these things, we’ll be happy. And that’s what we’re all really after.
But, is it true?
Ask that to the many rich and famous that are clearly miserable. Maybe we need to get some more information, ask ourselves more questions, in order to decide what success means for ourselves. Doing this may take us to a different path and, hopefully, save us some good years of desperately running after something that won’t pay off.
There’s a documentary I recommend you watching, released by Netflix, called Happy. I bet you can find it on the web too. The filmmaker goes around the world in search of what that means, for different people in different cultures. And it will surprise you that we’re not that different after all.
So, if at the core what we want is to be happy, wouldn’t it be worth it to explore what makes you happy?
In this article, I talked about flow. We as artists have a special opportunity to enter such state, being one of the things research shows makes us happy. That’ why I talk in so many articles about how art making is good.
I think success is the measure of achieving something that is valuable to you intrinsically, not as the means to get to other ends (money, for instance).
I value learning, so I feel successful when I learn anything new, big or small. And when I find someone learned something from me.
I value trying to make the world a better place, so I feel successful when I, even in a small way, make a change (especially in people’s minds, which is what I think is necessary to make the bigger, meaningful changes).
These are just examples of things I value, so hopefully you get what I mean.
So what do you value? If you try and accomplish things that are aligned to that, I think you are successful.
A rich and successful life is, in my mind, one that is lived by being true to our values.
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina.