Success. It is something that everybody strives for, and for some it is this ideal of success that makes them feel complete. But what is success? How do we know when we have it? And is our relentless and tireless effort to find it wasted?

Good morning/afternoon! Today’s post is about success, how we define it, what is wrong with the definition, why we believe it and how we should define it.

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I am sure many of you are aware of how western culture defines success and just how wrong it can be. Success is something everybody wants. And many people have been manipulated into thinking of it in the wrong ways. When we measure success in problematic and misleading ways we are bound to encounter predicaments.

Current definition of success

The oxford dictionary defines success as : “The fact that you have achieved something that you want and have been trying to do or get; the fact of becoming rich or famous or of getting a high social position.”

This is a half a definition. Success is not a one size fits all thing. It is immeasurable as every single person is solely and uniquely themselves, therefore having unique and varying lives. Which consequently results in us having a loose term.

Another point worthy of raising in this article is that success is not money, fame or status. Too often do we allow ourselves to be convinced it is, but success is not wealth, nor is it fame, nor power.

What is wrong with this definition?

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Our definition of success comes from many years of stereotypes, falsehoods and ultimately lies that have been planted in our brains. We are constantly being spoon-fed information from all sorts of places and our brain adapts to this new information accordingly. Through use of media, this is how we allow ourselves to be manipulated; we do not distinguish the truth from the lies. We therefore allow ourselves to be persuaded into striving for an ideal that is eluded from our reach consistently.

When we continuously make strenuous and draining efforts to accomplish something that constantly moves further and further from our reach it takes a toll on our mental state of being.

Falling victim to this cycle of strenuous futile effort, is dangerous. There is much research to show that setting impossible targets drastically increases your risk of mental illness.

Ultimately this continuous strive for “success” is almost like perfectionism. Having to have what we consider to be the perfect life.

In a study conducted by social psychologist Thomas Curran, it was found that more now than ever the “drive of having a perfect body, mind and career” is being indoctrinated in people. Dr Curran say that this is “not only a result of parents are pushing their children harder but rather a larger shift in ideology in a societal level”. According to the same study, pushing people for greatness does not always create inspiration but on the contrary, has detrimental effects on ones mental wellbeing.

After some research I believe striving to please others and achieve an elusive form of “success“ is very much connected to the idea of perfectionism.

Achieving ultimate wealth, fame and power is something many people would deem as perfect a perfect life or “success”. It is also as I previously stated elusive. It is a cycle of which there is no end and no reward. It is not difficult to understand how mentally draining this would be.

Who is feeding us these ideas?

Photo from: @camilojimenez on unsplash

As mentioned before we are constantly being spoon-fed information. From where? Mainly the media. The media are not the only cause but they are a big one.

It is now becoming more and more well known how manipulative the media is. That everything we see is being sent to us. It is no secret that social media can be a very negative thing and it is for this reason exactly. Seeing people with so called “perfect lives” makes us feel like we are not enough. We then therefore strive to be like these people who we have deemed “enough”.

When we see these people with their perfect lives they seem so happy, so content and it really does seem perfect.

So as human beings we feel the need to be happy, content and perfect. This all contributes to your perception of the world around you.

Who is benefiting from these falsehoods?

Photo from: @mufidmajnun on unsplash

The answer is the rich, elitist, famous and powerful.

One thing that I don’t think people realise is that by setting these impossible goals we are consequently idolising those who have achieved them.

We idolise them by following, liking, reading, buying etc we endorse these people. Which subsequently gives them more money, more fame and more power. The people who benefit are benefiting because of our idolisation. We are the ones who give these people more power money and fame.

It is yet again another cycle. We keep giving them more, and so than the bar gets higher, and higher. The expectations rise. These people benefit whilst we work on achieving something that we are likely never to accomplish.

Redefining Success

So now that I have rambled on about all the things that are wrong with our definition of success you are probably asking “well what should I define success as?” And that is what I’m about to answer.

Now I personally don’t think there is a set definition of success and if there is I don’t know it. Success is something that will vary from person to person. However with all that said this is how I define success: achieving something of which you had desired to accomplish; the positive impact you leave on the world. Now obviously not everybody is going to have the same resources or experiences so my definition is not perfect either. But for me personally this is a good and relevant definition.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope that you were able to gain something from this post! If you enjoyed this post and wish to see more articles such as this one please consider dropping a follow. Have an amazing day!


  1. The Deleted Story says:

    Good post…saved for further reading. read a lil but I felt like reading more.

    Thank you so much,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sophie says:

      No problem! So glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

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