What is the measure of success?

She comes across, at first, as ridiculously self-indulgent and narcissistic. However, read a little further, and look a little deeper, and slowly your incredulity is replaced with a bit of sympathy. Amy Molloy may be successful on paper – having a book published at 24, editor of a fashion magazine at 28, running marathons and all-round high achiever. She should be on top of the world, the envy of all her friends, and supremely proud and happy of everything that she has achieved.

However, she has no friends, except one girlfriend. And she’s not happy at all. She describes herself “lonely and joyless”, is extremely self-critical, and admits that she’s boring. It made me wonder, is she really successful if she’s so unhappy? If you’ve reached the pinnacle of your career, you earn more money than anyone else you know, you work hard at your health and fitness, and you have a supportive partner, surely you should be content, satisfied, and happy.

happiness

Happiness can be a pretty elusive state. We often find joy fleetingly when we’re eating ice cream or when we get a hug from someone we love, but to be a state of happiness and contentment is more difficult. It usually means that we have the love and support of family and friends or a partner. It probably means that we are making a bit of a difference in the world somehow, either to society, or to the people that we love. It definitely means being able to look back on how far we’ve come, and be proud of what we’ve achieved. And it hopefully means that we’re doing something meaningful, following our burning ambition.

Perhaps these are the things that Amy has completely missed. Driving yourself to make your parents proud, or because you care about how other people will view you doesn’t seem to be the path to happiness. It’s about having wonderful people in your life, devoting time to things that make a difference, and stopping to smell the roses every now and then.  More than wealth, job titles, annual salary, or the size of your car, perhaps it’s happiness that is the best measure of success?

* Image courtesy of bbessentials

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