The Paradox of Success And Money

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In our society today, successful people as portrayed by the media are people who have acquired money, status, and hence success. It is rare to see “successful people” in the newspaper that are not at least a millionaire.

Living by the society’s perception and opinion, most people would only pursue the kind of success that includes the money factor. No matter what profession or what trade you are in, the ultimate yardstick of success is still based on how much money you can make. High earning professions like lawyer, banker, accountant, etc are elite and envy of the society.

Even creative trades are measured by monetary terms. People respect and admire millionaire authors rather than those who produce timeless literacy works of great intellectual value. Few people would accord success to a talented artist if his/her works have not gained celebrity status and command high commercial value.

The definition of success is so intimately linked to monetary achievement. There is no wonder why most people go all the way out to pursue money and hence success, as their life goals.

I for one have been lured to such perception of success. Following what is known to be prestigious and glamorous, I had pursued the banking job single-mindedly in the early years of my career. Despite having a prestigious investment banking job, and the envies of my peers, I found myself trading off with other things in life: Health, hobbies, relationships, etc. I found myself becoming more and more unhappy. My spirit and life force seems to be dwindling by the day. I finally realized: The concept of success that I was holding was such a great fallacy.

This concept has been so ingrained in people’s mind that many have gone so far away from their truth. Their truth, which lies in happiness and fulfillment, has little to do with money.

Both success and money are subjects of paradox in our life, particularly in relation to our life happiness and fulfillment. Success need not be defined or be associated with having lots of money.

Anyone who does not live by the standard and perception of the society will have little motivation to amass money. More specifically, they do not covet money. For they know that money and the material possessions that it brings, though may be able to attract the envy of their neighbors, rarely contribute much to real happiness.

The pursuit of real happiness is an inward journey. Most of the happiness people in the world rarely attribute their happiness to the money they have. We should each have our own definition of success. As a rule of thumb, being able to think independently from the society’s definition success, is itself a kind of success.

Success is different thing to different people.

Bill Crosby said: “I do not know what is the rule of success. But I know the sure rule of failure is trying to please everybody.”

If one is mindful about how he is judged and defined by other people, he is like a puppet manipulated by the external rules. His life success, and hence his happiness, will be controlled by others. Only when he defines his own success, can he plays by his own rules. He can still play the game of the world, but success is defined by his own terms.

Our value system of success and money determine our happiness and fulfillment in life. We need to establish a healthy relationship with money. It is important to note that, not to covet for money is different from disdaining money.

The fine art of a healthy relationship with money is to welcome its flow into our life without coveting for it. There is nothing wrong to aspire to a better life, to enjoy all the abundance that life can bring. Focus your thoughts on the good things that you desire is an important step to achieving success.

However, the key thing to remember here is not to be obsessed with wanting them. It is important to maintain a sense of freedom without becoming a victim of bondage to the material world, including money.

In the book “A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life”, Nina Wise wrote:

“Our longing for freedom cannot be satisfied by cars or houses or diamonds; by private jets or offshore bank accounts or caviar; by miniature computers or mighty weapons. Our longing for freedom can only be satisfied by recognizing that we are each sufficient as we are, and that what feeds us has nothing to do with what we buy and everything to do with an inherent vitality of soul.”

Personally, I believe real success is:

– Having the freedom in mind and spirit, to be able to experience the world and beyond, and to enjoy the beauty and abundance that life offers.

– Being aware of the unlimited possibilities in life, and to take conscious actions to fulfill life’s deserved greatness.




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