If your definition of success is very narrow, for example, getting into the Guinness book of records for eating the most hotdogs or having the longest fingernails, whilst a bit weird, it is essentially harmless. But if, for example, a business has profitability as it’s only measure of success, then it will sacrifice the wellbeing of both its workers and customers to achieve this. Sadly, there is no shortage of examples of this.
If we are awake to the reality of connection, then success must be defined as something that is good for not just you, but for others too. What is the point of success if we have to hurt or damage others to achieve it? Also, success would seem very hollow to me without peace in my heart, without health, without a deep sense of connection.
However, it’s easy (and habitual) to compare our lives to the lives of others: what they have compared with what you have, what they have achieved compared to what you have achieved, feeling critical or smug when you come out better or envy when the comparison is not so favourable. Comparing ourselves to others, except in very limited situations, is usually not at all helpful. This is especially problematic nowadays. We no longer compare ourselves with our neighbour or a work colleague; nowadays we compare ourselves with the imaginary “perfect” lives of others on Instagram, Facebook, Google or some other advertising corporation masquerading as a tech/social media company. Apart from stealing our attention to sell it to others, these companies will keep us feeling inadequate and hungry as we compare our natural physical selves with the heavily edited images and lives of others -lives which in reality do not exist.
Observe tourists at a place of natural beauty; many seem to have forgotten how to simply absorb the view, to be still, to be present, to connect. Instead, they are obsessed with creating a picture which will most impress their virtual “friends” or “followers”.
If your perception of success is contingent on the approval of, or the favourable comparison with others, then you have already lost yourself. When you live by someone else’s idea of success you are giving the responsibility for your happiness and wellbeing to another. You will experience fleeting moments of happiness, but essentially you are doomed to always feel inadequate at some level, hungry, wanting (perfect for advertisers).
True success can only be on your own terms; it cannot depend on the opinion of others. It comes with recognizing and meeting our needs which, in turn, is based on knowing and accepting who we are.