I believe that no matter what you do in life, true success is measured by the happiness of your own heart. Though I firmly believe this now, it was, unfortunately, not always the case. Even from early in my childhood, I remember people constantly telling me that in order to be successful in life, I had to have a decent job that yielded a sufficient amount of earnings. So my fantasies of becoming a painter, a musician, or even a writer were prematurely burst with the sharp needle of reality. But then, when I was 17 and battling with the harrowing dilemma of figuring out what I wanted to do in life to succeed, a remarkable thing happened. This event changed the lens of perspective in my life forever.
I was at a prominent academic summer program when a seemingly ordinary man gave the most extraordinary speech of my life. As he stood behind the podium, I expected to hear yet another dull speech about going to college, getting a good job, and settling into a normal life. But instead, he stood confidently in front of his audience with a smile on his face and vehemently stated that it doesn’t matter what we do in life, as long as we enjoy it and pursue it with passion. He told us to have the courage to be different. “So go out there and tear it up!” he exclaimed. “Sing! Write! Build! Philosophize! Stand up and stand out!” And he told us that if we fail at first, to keep going with our heads held high even though it is not the easy thing to do. That day, though my recount can never do his speech justice, this ordinary man taught me the most important lesson I have ever learned in my entire life: success is measured by the happiness of one’s own heart.
So whether you want to become a doctor, open up a flower shop on the corner of the street, or just travel the world and not know what adventure life will bring your way, it should be kept in mind that success in life is how you define it. Attaining true success means that when you look back on your life, you know in the end that it was all worthwhile. And no life, even though the realm of society may deem it otherwise, is unsuccessful if you pursue your dreams with sheer desire and passion. I, myself, have learned to celebrate my individuality and my dreams with confidence. I now hold the courage to do everything I am desirous of, even when it means conquering the odds and the norms of society, because I know in my heart that it yields the greatest profit of all– happiness. Live your life to your own definition of success, and do it with passion. As the wise philosopher Confucius said, “No matter where you go, go with all your heart.” This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.