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Success or happiness?

Success or happiness - which comes first? Which is more important? Can we be happy without being successful? If yes, why do we need success at all?

A boy, when asked which comes first chicken or egg, said, "Depends on what we order first!"

Isn't the famous 'chicken-egg' situation that we talk about in our day-to-day lives synonymous with 'success-happiness'? 'Chicken-egg' and 'success-happiness' are instances of circular reference, where a parameter is required to calculate the parameter itself. As per the principle of non-contradiction, the oft-repeated contradictory statements, 'success is necessary for happiness' and 'success does not necessarily bring happiness', being mutually exclusive, cannot be true at the same time. It is like saying, 'X is Y' and 'X is not Y'.

Irrespective of which of the two - success and happiness - comes first, the question is which of the two is more important. I have conducted seminars on this topic and whenever I ask participants the above question, they say it is the latter. (At a seminar, it is unlikely that you can get any other response because everyone loves to take a high moral ground!)

It is true that success in the materialistic world does not guarantee happiness, just as a soft pillow and bed do not guarantee sound sleep.

There are hermits living in the Himalayas in a state of perpetual bliss, without having the slightest comforts. But we are not hermits and we do not live in the Himalayas. The materialistic world in which we live is governed by specific and objective rules and parameters. We need food, clothing and shelter. We are not ascetics and have a family to support. We need to pay our bills, buy food and medicines, pay school fees for children and entertain friends and relatives. All this requires money in pockets, not just happiness in hearts. Being able to do this in a satisfactory manner without much heartburn is 'success.'

The urge to succeed is true in both materialistic and spiritual worlds. Each one of us wants to succeed in every single aspect of our life - be it health, wealth, career, relationships or social standing.

Even a highly evolved spiritual person wants liberation, realisation and merger with the divinity, in that order. One of the spiritual masters had said that we come from infinity and we want infinity.

Children aspire to study in the best school, aim to score top grades and pass examinations in flying colours. Youth crave lucrative jobs, fancy titles, periodic promotions and illustrious careers. Married men and women desire fulfilling relationships. As a member of society, we strive for recognition and honour.

The yardsticks we apply to measure success in each of these facets of life might be different; the degree of success we achieve could be high or low; but one fact is indisputable and that is, we always want success and more success. The law of diminishing marginal utility seems to have been suspended or is inapplicable in this regard.

The above translates into one fundamental truth and that is, success means a lot to all and everyone wants a lot of it! It has become our LCD: Least Common Denominator, a measure, yardstick and benchmark that defines humans in the materialistic world.

Being born here in this worldly and object-oriented world, everyone wants to progress geometrically as well as exponentially. It could be that such wishes are not proportionate to our abilities and competence, but that is the complexity of human nature.

One in a million may abandon the material world and seek spiritual elevation of the highest order. However, for us, the lesser mortals, abstracts do not appeal unless and until we become successful in this mundane, materialistic world.

(From the book by Hemant Joshi 'Success

at Your Doorstep.. It's Knocking')

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jan 18, 2013
Words:642
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