• Susan Pattis

What Does Success in Life Mean to You? (Part I)

In the last six months I have received more than fifty private requests from readers asking me to discuss the topic of “success in life”. Honestly, I don't have a complete definition for "success in life” because it doesn’t mean the same to everyone. I invite all my lovely and intelligent readers and supporters to participate in our discussions by sharing your perspective or thoughts on success in life. I enjoy the warm touch to my heart and soul when I receive comments and ideas from my readers. Please write to me and share your suggestions on making this blog a free and open place for discussing the topics that are meaningful to you.


For me, a successful life means to live a life where you have no regrets about your decisions or past experiences, a life where you have no worries or anxieties about the future, and, if this were your last, you would die with a smile on your face. Success is about making peace with your past and preventing worries about the future. Success is about living in the present moment and chasing your dreams without doubt or hesitation.


In my early 20's, when I was obsessed with the trappings of "success", amongst other things, I desired an advanced degree, or preferably two degrees, a prestigious career, a luxurious automobile, a comfortable home, and a good reputation. I thought that acquiring these things would mean that I was now considered a "successful" person whose life had been completed and made whole on such achievements. However, as nearly half of my life has passed, I now realize, looking back, that this desire for "success" was nothing more than the manifestation of insecurity about my sense of structure, personhood, and a place in the world as a young adult.

Over the years, most people I know had very little in terms of guiding values and core principles in their early adult years. All they knew was that their parents' had high expectations, face-saving hopes, and intentions for their children to be very successful in life. They hated those expectations at a conscious level and rebelled against them in favor of their own ambitions. Still, they unwittingly allowed such demands to be assimilated into their psyche. They allowed them to define their sense of self-worth, much to their detriment, both physically and mentally.


So, if you had asked me about thirty years ago, "How do you define success in life?" I would have answered with "law school, an MBA or with a professorship”, the socially acceptable typical answer. Nowadays, I do not think of being "successful" or pursuing "success" anymore, partly due to my accomplishments but mainly because of my growth and development of a sense of internal serenity. Public protocols or standards do not define success. Pleasing the whole world at the expense of personal happiness is not success.


So, success is to have a sense of "completeness," which is not contingent upon fulfilling a desire for "success," defined solely by other people's expectations of me or my perceptions. Humans like to judge others' "success" status by asking "what do you do for a living" without caring about other persons character or happiness. In my mind, you have gained a significant victory if you can answer the above question by saying, "I am doing what I like the most, and I am happy."


To Be Continued.