Success in life is a question of perception

March 7, 2013 | By | Filed Under Letters 

A very interesting subject – “Secrets of a successful life” – was recently raised in your letter section.
How does one define ‘a successful life’? I think it is something personal to everyone. I might see myself as being successful but others might not see me so. Many years ago I was lunching with a mixed group of colleagues, two of them recent graduates of Oxford U. The Oxford chaps were trying to define ‘happiness’. One said that happiness was contentment; the other said drily ‘Happiness is happiness’. End of debate. Very droll. A hyperactive boss once described me as not ambitious. I told him that I saw myself as ambitious but not competitive – I could never become a crab in a barrel, climbing over others to get to the top. He paused and seemed to think of it. I happened to be in a line of work I enjoyed doing and had a lifestyle that suited myself and family, so my life was stress-free.
Better still, I was doing a job I enjoyed doing and got paid well for doing it.
There are two schools of thought about such matters. One says “A man’s reach should not exceed his grasp”; but, according to the poet Robert Browning, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
To me, success in life is a question of perception. To the onlooker, it may be the visible trappings of wealth; to the individual, peace of mind and being comfortable in one’s skin.
What do others think?
Geralda Dennison

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