Success?

I might suggest that when it comes to the goal of success, we are all in the same boat.  We all want to succeed in life!  This may look different for many of us and we may not realize what our specific goals are.  But nonetheless, we all have a goal to succeed in something

But are we perhaps intimated by the goal of success at times?  Have you ever felt like success can just set you up for failure?  I think we all may feel aspects of this in some way.  We are almost afraid of “too much” success in certain areas of our lives.  Perhaps we have seen friends or family achieve success, only to fall into a personal crisis.  Others are afraid of the negative character qualities that can masquerade in the clothes of success (greed & pride are examples). We may have seen a friend have the perfect marriage and then get a divorce after a short period of time.  Or a friend has a large financial windfall, only to soon after have financial problems.  These problems can be disheartening and confusing to anyone.

But don’t we all ultimately want to be successful?

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “The Happiness Data That Wrecks a Freudian Theory” that tackled the issue of possible negative outcomes coming from personal success (Cohen).  The article talks about the famous Sigmund Freud who had concluded that people become “wrecked by success,” falling into depression, poor health, and becoming largely unhappy.  But a group of psychologists decided to look into this topic more.  They wanted to determine if Freud’s conclusions were accurate. 

The psychologists used a vast repository of data to conduct their research – “The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth.”  This in-depth study was conducted on over 2,000 people, tracking the individuals’ salaries, marriages, health, self-esteem and other factors for over 50 years.  The psychologists used this extraordinary amount of information to determine if there was a correlation between these things and the individuals’ overall happiness. 

The study was completed and came to the conclusion that being successful does not put you at risk for being unhappy.  A study like this should give us confidence and freedom to allow ourselves to be as successful as we may desire to be in a healthy and wholesome manner.  We should view success as a good thing and consistently strive for success in some capacity!

If we can seek to accomplish our personal goals gracefully and patiently, it will only benefit us over time.  Those around us should see the results and be inspired.  Sometimes opportunities require us to act, while other times opportunity knocks on our door.  Elon Musk recently said “If you want the future to be good, you must make it so.  Take action to make it good, and it will be.”  We should take this advice to heart and let our actions welcome us into the future that we want. 

I always look to the Bible as a source for wisdom and timely advice.  The verse in Hebrews 10:24 says: “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”  We need friends, peers, and mentors that are sources of encouragement for us.  We want to be a source of encouragement to others as well. It is amazing how much we can be strengthened by having others around us that want the best for us!

So as we all go through this journey of life, we should realize that success is not a bad thing.  We all want it and we should not be afraid to succeed!  Identify specific goals and make it happen!

Kyle Kaspar

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Cohen, Ben. “The Happiness Data That Wrecks a Freudian Theory.”  The Wall Street Journal, 30 June 2022.