Perhaps, you have numerously come across the point of view that for general happiness, self-satisfaction, personal completeness, it is necessary to achieve some measure of success, some result in a particular activity. In this regard, there is a very common opinion that by a certain age every person should achieve some position in society, find respect among other similar individuals, not only for the sake of their ego, but also for the so-called public image.
There is always pressure from society, regardless of whether it is implicit or explicit. One way or another, it is impossible to completely superficially detect and identify it, this requires a scrupulous, painstaking introspective analysis. Any human being is always a social product, a reflection of the immediate environment. All the events, all the information that were absorbed or forcibly provided to him on the way to adulthood as unquestioning postulates, all done or not done actions and consequences from him— all this somehow affects the worldview and some conscious or unconscious motives, worries, opinions.
Nowadays, in the 21st century, such concepts as achieving success, high productivity, progress, results, self-improvement are very popular. All these tools of clouding the mind are alluring with their sound and unclear underlying meaning, and their intentions are very insidiously presented in the mass media quite broadly. The world has become extraordinarily obsessed with all these beautiful words that promise golden mountains of joys, happiness and well-being both external and internal. However, no one can suspect (and if they can, then only a few “awaken”) that all these concepts that can be put under the emblem of a “luxurious and complete life” are quite not all right.
If you actively have or had account on social networks, it is likely that sometimes you have encountered such advice in the manner of: how to work harder and increase your productivity, how to create your own business, how to earn a billion dollars and become a multi-billionaire, and a huge variety of such captivating statements. This galaxy of “tips for success”, oddly enough, also includes tips on self-improvement, positive thinking, self-awareness and so on.
This theme of the eternal, incessant “pursuit of success” has grown, swelled to such a scale that numerous business coaches, success coaches, financial coaches have appeared, who are yelling from all sides and tearing everyone’s ear membranes with their expressive stimulations: “do it”, “work harder”, “strive resignedly to your goal and don’t look back”, “constantly improve yourself”. Consequently, some has begun to take advantage of this idea of “success”, which so obviously brings huge income to a greater extent with empty words, numerous sheets of paper to their dexterous leeches, and has made a tremendous career in this developing niche. Courses, trainings, self-help books — all these are perfectly sold to the vast blind masses of the population around the world and win its honorable rank for impudent deception and the exchange of money for meaningless throwing of words.
To figure out how it has happened that many people are so eager and serious to achieve this inviting “success”, it is necessary, first of all, to determine what this word means, and since when the seed of desire has been planted in each individual subject to achieve this goal.
What does this word “success” mean? Various kinds of answers can be given to this question, diverging in their essence and content, not coming to the same denominator, not standing in one row. By its nature, this is an abstract word, and any meaning can be attributed to it. In a broad, widespread, modern implication, success, in most cases, is understood as financial well-being and independence, and having material assets, resulting from these two: elite houses, apartments, cars, yachts, premium clothes. In general, everything that can be recognized as a comfortable, elite, expensive life in modern society with complete financial satisfaction. The ostentatious image which is so widely advertised and stuffed on social media.
There are also less popular interpretations of this word. Many consider the achievement of personal/social results and goals to be a success; it does not matter what scale this goal was, small, medium or large. Any perfect laborious, petty undertaking can also become a candidate indicator of success for an individual.
The very desire to achieve something, to strive somewhere, may be explained by biological factors. Akin to all living beings, it is in human nature to solve the problems of survival, food and reproduction. Evolutionarily, there are motives for any action in the form of pain, physical or mental, therefore, there is a goal to get rid of unpleasant sensations as soon as possible and as quickly as possible, to satisfy the need. As a result, the very satisfaction of the need, the closure of the need, the departure from negative states into a state more comfortable and preferable for existence can be considered a success. However, people have separated themselves from the animal world, natural flora and fauna for a long time; they had built developed civilizations, achieved technological progress, which have contributed to a less energy-consuming way to cover natural needs. For most of the population, the basic, fundamental needs for physical existence are more or less satisfied. Therefore, there is no such acute incentive to independently get food, build a home, equip the interior for the sake of a quiet and unencumbered life. Thanks to the distribution of labor and specialization of professions, survival even in the harshest, diverse places of this planet has become possible and effortlessly.
When the basic needs are satisfied, another problem arises along with the appearance of a sufficient amount of free time — existential emptiness which needs to be filled with something. As stated above, biologically, our brain is programmed to solve problems of the basic needs to exist. When these primary needs are absent even for a short period of time, we still need to keep our mind busy in order to avoid mental negative states in the form of depression, overthinking, anxiety due to high self-awareness, thereby we should resort to escapism, run away from our being. In addition, by performing various kinds of tasks, the brain gets natural high from achieving them in the form of a innate drug — dopamine.
Of course, some individuals might object that it is better not to do anything, but to hapilly chill, to consume the ready-made works of human activity in the field of entertainment, to enjoy life as it is. This thesis is partially true and only works properly for a small amount of time. With a large consumption of the finished product of entertainment, distraction from everyday life, the reward mechanism becomes less sensitive, and oversaturation occurs, many things get boring and become tedious and monotonous. The brain begins to produce the “buzz” hormone in a smaller volume, since the goal seems to it simple and unhindered. This is where the next impulse arises to change the situation, to find a new occupation, hobby in order to make the brain produce dopamine as much as possible; to replace the old and repetitive routine with something new and exciting.
Thus, humans, beings completely biologically dependent on their natural drugs, due to the devouring emptiness inside or the reactive oversaturation of easily accessible entertainment/reality, start to look for more and more, new and pretentious, fascinating things, which could take up almost all their free time to build thick and high walls from a variety of possibly small and large plans for the future, set for yourself either insignificant or grand goals. There is a certain pattern in achieving goals, a certain correlation between the reward and the amount of effort spent on the achievement itself: the more mental or physical energy invested and spent on achieving the goal, the greater and longer the reward from achievement, the dopamine “high” is last. Definitely, even in this case, the principle of oversaturation is working properly — the old results, no matter how difficult and insurmountable they had seemed in the past, already cease to please their owner after the lapse of a certain period of time, and the person strives to achieve more and more, better and more honorable than he has at the moment.
Thereupon, the modern trend of self-development, aspiration to achieve goals, develop a career, get successful is directly or indirectly related to the pursuit of a fleeting dopamine dose. Any person, who has fallen for the sophisticated trick of their reward mechanism, is constantly in a state of agitation, continuous fuss and artificially created noise in the guise of tasks set for himself. The subject is afraid to feel that primordial emptiness inside, does not tolerate the peace of silence. He feels inferior and insignificant if even for a moment he stops chasing the imposed goals and contemplates the reality surrounding him among the same individuals as him which are running without a single respite on the treadmill to illusory “success”, maintaining the illusion of the necessity and usefulness of their vain existence.
From the very first stage of socialization in society, from kindergarten, every newcomer to this world is taught, trained norms and commandments, which are a means to be a competitive unit among the same units. At the next stage, in school institutions, there is more fierce propaganda which encourages the individual to set great, sometimes intricate and honorable goals that are approved by society. This school goal-setting indoctrination is reflected in program textbooks, the edifying agenda of teachers, mandatory-to-read books, encouraging grades to learn the educational content more meticulously and thoroughly. Further, in college or university, this mechanism of coercion to achieve goals, “success” is honed to its maximum limit.
Of course, in this list there is not enough mention of the most important, the most primary success coaches — parents who recklessly brought a defenseless and unintelligent being into this world; and, in most cases, they crave that the latter will hit the jackpot in this life, make a revolution in public life, become a prosperous and positive person. With the family the psychological pressure begins, the tyrannical setting of problems for the next generation, which should not have existed in the first place, unrealistic dreams and hopes burdened on the child, hypnotizing mantras for rat race, competition, success, achieving significant results.
From the moment you appeared in this world, it has become necessary to justify your existence, to exert your efforts to prove to society or related people that you are worth something. Starting from the first, innocuous successes in kindergarten competitions, ending with a significant public contribution to the history of mankind in various fields of science, art, or simply in everyday life.
This incredible tension and pressure is already felt from the first years of life from the people around you. Otherwise, with a rather apathetic and disinterested attitude towards achieving any awards, titles, places, a person is censured and ostracized by the majority. Now he is a loser, a weak and spineless individual, if he choose a calm, measured life instead of running around in a limited space, striving for illusory goals, which society cunningly imposed on them, a vain journey through the same boring planet with the same-looking, bland people and scenery.
It is worth mentioning the modern image of a “successful person” that is probably a standard and a dream for many people — rich, good-looking, has the opportunity to live large and without restrictions, expensive houses, yachts, cars, increased attention from the opposite sex, frequent travelling. Perhaps, looking at such a tempting and attractive image, the average person would be offended to some extent and feel flawed mentally compared to that lucky guy on the striking cover. It would have seemed to him in a dysphoric paroxysm that he, in fact, had achieved nothing in this life, spent their golden years in intoxicating idleness and laziness; if he had achieved the same cherished position, he would have been much happier.
If you carefully look at this situation with a sober eye, you can perfectly see how short-sighted and partially blind people are to social processing of minds. The impressive image of a successful person, advertised by social networks, inspires an inferiority complex and a sense of the insignificance, makes someone fall for the bait, the sophisticated scheme, and, consequently, to look for a way out of his deplorable situation. Success coaches, business coaches, who are so fond of selling them a magic antidote which will soothe their lamentations and ordeals for a moment, will give the key to genuine happiness and will make a huge profit from the suffering and torments of an individual.
In reality, everything turns out not so smoothly: there is no guarantee that everyone who zealously follows the prescribed postulates of a successful person will achieve any significant result in a certain area. Of the thousandth audience of loyal pursuers, only few will be close to the goal, the rest will be in a big gap from those lucky ones; many intricate factors have infuence on this, it does not even matter how much effort and energy were invested in their cherished dream. Most likely, a deceived person with flimsy hopes will be even more disappointed in his potential, and the huge amount of energy spent on this enterprise corresponds to the amount of bitter frustration.
It may sound a little nihilistic, but void does not care about a huge amount of money, success, the number of expensive cars, penthouses, yachts, personal and public achievements, titles. All this only matters to the individual, their reputation in the eyes of himself and society.
In addition, in the widespread idea of the cult of success, the desire to be more productive, to grind hard, there is a distinct capitalistic flavour that applies to all types of activities. Thus, in any case, it is beneficial to the employer that the employee is always highly motivated and ready to work even overtime and without extra pay; and the goal of a salary increase or personal gain loomed before his eyes. Even in the most low-skilled job, there is a ladder of growth that can motivate people to strive for a higher status in their occupation and keep grinding even more harder. As you can see, such a sly, fraudulent motivation tends to exploit the extra strength and energy of the employee in return for pleasant and beautiful words heard, read from different people/in different sources, but not fulfilled in reality.
To accomplish goals, even if they are to some extent infantile, illusory, to engage in development in your niche — I believe, that this should be a free and deliberate choice of every person, not imposed on him by guilt from social pressure, compromising and the threat of ostracism. As well as the lack of long-term goals, hegemonic perspectives should not be blamed and condemned by various derogatory verbal patterns. In any case, the enveloping realization that a person has received something from the life, has achieved his goal is just one of the ways to happily and with a tranquility of mind go back into that indescribable void from which everyone has come out and into which everyone will go.
There is a very prominent line between how a person consciously strives for the assigned for himself task and how this task was imposed on him from the outside: relatives, friends, colleagues. With an independent pursuit of the goal, the element of the game turns on, everything happens as if automatically and easily, and a person does not need to listen to many hours of lectures, read motivating multi-line quotes about how to overcome laziness, procrastination, force himself to be more productive. However, there is a second case here when a person is trembling in agony, writhing in remorse that he allegedly could not achieve and justify the expectations imposed on them from the social dictatorship.
In conclusion, we can once again mention that the idea of “achieving something in life” is unquestioningly a social dogma, imposed on us from early childhood, the source of many troubles and torments. The cult of success, which has received its widespread and ubiquitous distribution in social media, and on which many maneuverable scammers have managed to cash in, is still based in the minds of irrational masses. Mischievous and domineering shepherds easily command a herd of trusting and naive sheeps, believing in their commandments as the basis of guaranteed happiness and well-being.