Success can mean very different things, depending on your upbringing.
In the US, success seems to be gauged on how much difference you make, whether by building schools in Bangladesh or revolutionizing the industry of orthopedic mattresses, it doesn’t really matter as long as your contribution causes a memorable change.
Conversely, in France, people feel successful when they maximize their level of comfort, keeping things just the way they are, or cosier if given a chance.
Although quite different, the French and American models are a sure way to make your life a tragic failure and resent god for being an insensitive jerk.
Reality makes it rough for the Americans desperate to reach excellence: being outstanding is statistically unlikely, otherwise it would be a norm. Furthermore, it’s quite silly to insist on making things differently or better than others when there’s no need to. Perfect-Moms are a sad illustration of that trend.
On their end the French fail to achieve their ideal of comfort when impermanence gets in the way: you can’t hide from pain forever, things change all the time and problems show up no matter how you barricade your life. Not only that, but the very tendency to run away from discomfort often predisposes the mind to more pain.
I don’t believe there’s such thing as an ideal happiness strategy (I really wish it existed, though), but Tibetans seem to be better equipped than westerners in that regard.
Tibetans are brought up with two useful beliefs:
- Pain is normal and transitory, no need to obsess over it.
- It’s perfectly OK to be just…yourself (and not more than that).
My education lacked these elements, but I’m trying to catch up now, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are, too.