What is success?

boat sunsetWhat is success? I asked some friends and acquaintances, some weeks ago, in a discussion.

The answers varied according to each ones belief systems, values and cultural background.
Because isn’t that just how it is; we can’t say what real success or real luck is for anyone. In this world of today and in Western societies where much emphasis is on having the ‘right’ education, partner, job etc., we are fostered into believing what it is to succeed and be happy.

Many Zen stories have inspired me in life and one of them especially fits well on the theme of what real success and happiness is. It is about this fisherman who lives a simple life and every evening just catches as much fish as he needs for him and his family. One evening as he sat on the beach with his small draught and enjoyed the beautiful sunset, a business man approaches him. He asks the fisher why he doesn’t try to get more fish so that he could sell some of it. That could in return give the fisherman enough money to buy a bigger boat, go further out on the sea and catch even more fish. Eventually he’d be able to start a fish factory with employees and then, he concluded, the simple fisherman could withdraw and live a simple and good life. The fisherman looked at him for a while, stunned... – That is exactly what I already do, he replied. The business man, coming from another world, shook his head and left.

I firmly believe we have to find within ourselves what is important to us. What kind of life do I want to have? What makes me really happy? Which people do I want to surround myself with?

I remember once reading a book about what it was like to live in the ancient Egyptian culture. Even for being a novel it gave me an insight about how similar people are in whichever time epoch and whatever country they live in. Too much effort is wasted on what image we show to the rest of the world. Too much care of what other think about us. Instead of just doing and living as we want.

For many people living an authentic, simple life is however enough to be happy. Once we get down to what really matters in life. Our life surely needs balance in many areas to feel good. But, as mentioned before in these blogs, a lot starts from just being happy and grateful for what is good here and now. And to train ourselves to see that over and over. Then we become successful in whatever we do - because we are real. Real in ourselves and in our lives.

Petra Skogsberg

Written by : Petra Skogsberg