You Are More Than Your Professional Achievements - Quartz
Contemporary society has some very wrong-headed ideas about what constitutes success. Popular thinking holds that a person who went to Harvard is smarter and better than someone who attended Ohio State; that a father who stays at home with his kids is contributing less to society than a man who works at a Fortune 500 company; that a woman with 200 Instagram followers must be less valuable than a woman with two million.
This notion of success isn’t just elitist and misguided; it actively hurts those who believe it. For my book, The Power of Meaning, I spoke to many people who defined their identity and self-worth by their educational and career achievements. When they succeeded, their lives felt meaningful, and they were happy. But when they failed or struggled, the only thing that gave their lives value was gone—and so they fell into despair, and became convinced they were worthless.
Writing my book taught me that being a successful person isn’t about career achievement or having the most toys. It’s about being a good, wise, and generous human being. Cultivating these qualities, my research showed, brings people a deep and enduring sense of fulfillment, which in turn helps them to face setbacks with resilience and meet death with peace. These are the criteria that we should be using to gauge our own success in life and the success of others, especially our children.