What is Real "Success"?

A Quiz to Help Sort Real Success From the Phony

The word "Success."

We all use it and hear it. We dream, think, wonder about it, and work for it. We seek it, find it, lose it, and seek more of it.

- but to ask the basic question . . .

- what is it, exactly?

There's real success in life, and a thousand imposters.

We - your loveable LiveReal Agents - wanted to get to the bottom of it.

...because we figure, if we're all searching for it, we should first get clear on what it really is.

What Is "Success"?

A) Financial: Success is measured primarily in terms of wealth; i.e., success means making enough money to afford the very best antidepressants available on the market today.

B) Mystery: Success is something mysterious and intangible that we cannot define . . . but should all be striving for anyway.

C) Social: A person's success is measured by their status in society and their rank on the social ladder; the more status, connections, or friends one has; the higher one's rank on the social ladder; the more famous or desired by other individuals one is, the more successful they are. (Examples: Cleopatra, Elvis)

D) Power: A person's success is measured by the power one has over other people, the ability to control or influence the lives of others (Examples, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Adolf Hitler, etc)

E) Intellectual: A person's success is measured by the number of facts one can remember, the number of concepts one understands, the number and depth of knowledge one has on certain matters. (Examples: Albert Einstein)

F) Aesthetic: A person's success is measured by the amount of beauty and/or truth one can capture, create, express, embody or purchase.

G) T. S. Eliot: "Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things."

H) Physical: A person's success is measured by their body's physical health and vitality, and freedom from disease or un-health.

I) Joseph Heller: "Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure."

J) Sexual: A person's success is measured by their attractiveness to and quality and/or quantity of sexual acts they engage in or relationships they have.

K) Moral: A person's success is measured by their ability to do the right thing, or to do good to other people.

L) Hedonistic: A person's success is measured by the amount of fun one has, pleasure one enjoys, good times one participates in.

M) Tennessee Williams: "Success and failure are equally disastrous."

N) Genetic: A person's success is measured by his or her passing on of genes to the next generation.

O) Mediocre: A person's success is measured by their ability to just get through the day.

P) Psychological: A person's success is measured by their mental and emotional health.

Q) Emotional: A person's success is measured by the frequency or rarity of which they experience fear, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, confusion, irritation, etc.

R) Hierarchical: A person's success is measured by their position in the hierarchy; i.e., the closer to the top they are, the more successful they are.

S) Gore Vidal: "It is not enough to succeed; others must fail."

T) Familial: A person's success is measured by their involvement and participation in the success of one's children or family.

U) Acquisitional: "There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it." (Logan Pearsall Smith)

V) Philanthropic: A person's success is measured by the degree one has helped other people succeed, or, by the degree that one has helped something besides oneself, such as the planet, dolphins, the poor, the homeless, etc.

W) Spiritual: A person's success is measured by whether or not one has attained salvation, enlightenment, or degree of spiritual maturity, by the station one has attained for oneself in the hereafter, or by the nature and quality of the relationship with one's Creator, or one's true place in the universe.

X) Abraham Maslow: To work one's way up a hierarchy of needs (Physical, Safety, Belonging/Love, Esteem, Self-Actualization)

Y) "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Z) Albert Einstein on Self-Overcoming: "The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self."

AA) Purpose: A person's success is measured by whether or not they have done what they were born to do. (Abraham Maslow: "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.")

BB) Anna Pavlova: "As is the case in all branches of art, success depend in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by dint of hard work."

CC) Character: it is something that is preserved, achieved, measured or reflected as a quality of your character.

DD) Unique: Something different for every individual.

EE) Common: Something we all have in common, to one degree or another.

FF) It's a matter of happiness.

GG) It's knowing why you're here, and then living according to that knowing.

HH) The classic American Dream: the ability to go from having nothing to having something, from being nobody to being somebody, from being forced to live according to someone else's wishes to living a free, self-determined life.

II) "...all of those gifts, they don't mean a g#$d&#! thing. And this dinner doesn't mean a g#$d&#! thing. And the Social Security and pension don't mean a g#$d&#! thing. None of these superficialities mean a g#$d&#! thing!
What means something - what really means something, Warren - is the knowledge that you devoted your life to something magnificent. To being productive . . . and working for a fine company - hell, one of the top-rated insurance carriers in the nation. To raising a fine family, to building a fine home, to being respected by your community, to having wonderful, lasting friendships . . . At the end of his career, if a man can look back and say, "I did it - I did my job" - he can retire in glory and enjoy riches far beyond the monetary kind. All you young people here, take a good look at a very rich man..."
- from the movie About Schmidt ( - a movie which, interestingly enough, makes an argument against this very definition...)

JJ) It's winning whatever game in life you decide to play.

KK) It's choosing the right game in life to play.

LL) Meister Eckhart: "The very best and highest attainment in this life is to remain still and let God act and speak in you."

MM) Ammachi: "At the end of our days on this earth, after all our successes and failures, the measure of worth for our life will be how much we have loved."

OO) It's tasting of "real life." As D. T. Suzuki said, “Life is, after all arguing, a painful struggle. This, however, is providential. For the more you suffer the deeper grows your character, and with the deepening of your character you read the more penetratingly into the secrets of life. All great artists, all great religious leaders, and all great social reformers have come out of the intensest struggles which they fought bravely, quite frequently in tears and with bleeding hearts. Unless you eat your bread in sorrow, you cannot taste of real life. Mencius is right when he says that when Heaven wants to perfect a great man it tries him in every possible way until he comes out triumphantly from all his painful experiences.”

PP) All of the above.

QQ) Some of the above:______________________________

RR) Other: __________________________________

Your Answer: ________.

When you finish your quiz, please pass your papers to the front.

Please note:
You will probably be graded, but may not be;
we're not sure when or even if you'll find out what your grade,
and we might know who will or won't be grading your papers,
but then again, we may be wrong.

So, what is "real" success?

We often see "success" as one of the most important things in life, yet rarely take time to define it clearly.

As a result, we often default into defining success in predictable and conventional ways: "success" means achieving wealth, status, fame, power, access to pleasures, and so on.

But of course, many people have achieved those things and yet still have regrets or are miserable.

This raises the question: if we can achieve success in several "games" in life, which game is worth playing?

What if real success in life is something we often ignore?

What if real success really is measured by things like meaning in life, "love," our level of sanity, our relationships, or the degree we're in touch with Reality? What if these are determined much more by our life philosophy, or how well we know ourselves or "become" ourselves, or our answers to the Big Questions in life than other yardsticks, such as bank accounts, social media following, or status symbols?

These are questions we plan to keep exploring. Stay tuned.

If you liked this, check out:

Why Are We Here?

What is "Happiness"?

15 Games of Life, and the One Most Worth Playing

Why Soft Nihilism Is So Popular These Days

10 Existential Riddles Life Asks Each Of Us

"Antifragile Happiness" and the Three Little Pig Problem

Existential Fitness: Boot Camp for the Soul

Spread the love.