Wisdom from Books

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Happiness and Success

Happiness and Success

Whether conventional wisdom is applicable to any individual depends on the definition or interpretation of “happiness” and “success” by that individual.

Is “happiness” synonymous with “success”?

In today’s fast-changing and ever-shrinking world, new ideas, methods, and processes are being conceived, installed and operated at breakneck speed like never before. As a result, many of us may become overwhelmed and confused with the true meaning of “happiness” and “success.”

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is in the doing, not the getting—in the trying, not the triumph.” Wynn Davis

Success means accepting yourself as who you are and whatever potentials you may have, and then act accordingly as if everything depended on you.

Reflective Thought

Success is to tab into your own potentials, irrespective of your background.

Case in Point

Howard Buffett, the eldest son of multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffett, turned himself into a farmer, instead of pursuing success by following his famous father’s footsteps.

Success means maintaining integrity and honesty regardless of the circumstances. After all, honesty is still the best policy in interpersonal relations, although it may come at a cost and even with sacrifice. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom may imply otherwise, as our culture glorifies deception and we are constantly bombarded with familiar terms, such as “everybody’s doing it”, “cutting corners”, “pulling off”, “getting away with murder”, “just a white lie”, “rules are meant to be broken” and many others. Surrounded by all forms of misconduct promoting deceit and dishonesty, we may come to believe that conventional wisdom condones any wrong doing as long as it does not “break the law.”
We must challenge this “street-smart” conventional wisdom. To live without human integrity is to be an incomplete human being; this unwholesomeness may undermine your personal growth and social development, leading to your inability to fully realize your full potentials as a human being in areas of self-worth and healthy relationships. The impact is life lasting and long term. Do not strive to move up the ladder of success by deceiving and manipulating others.

On the other hand, honesty and integrity can benefit your mental and physical health. According to research studies at Southern Methodist University, efforts to sustain false intentions stress the nervous system, leading to anxiety attacks. Being honest in all things makes one let go of the ego-self or self-centeredness, which is the root cause of all human miseries.


In conventional wisdom, motivation is looked upon as the key to success. As a result, there are many books and motivation speeches to fire up success: “the will to win is everything”, “you can have it all if you will it” and “you can be anything you wish to become.”

But motivation books and speeches in the form of positive thinking and affirmations may or may not produce the desired results because they are a short-lived and shallow approach to ultimate success.

For motivation to work effectively, you must not wait for someone or something to motivate you. As a matter of fact, the word “motivation” derives from the word “motive” which is an internal quality within you, not an external factor, and that propels you into action. That is to say, you feel deep inside you the needs to act. Inspirational books, affirmation messages, and motivation talks provide stimulus that is external and therefore only temporary. How often do people make their New Year’s resolutions only to see them evaporate into thin air before the month of January is over.

Success has to come from within, and not without. Remember, the desire for success has to be internal and deep within you to propel you to achievements beyond anything you ever thought possible.

Thinking Questions

Do I have what-it-takes to succeed in life?

Am I prepared to put in my best effort and sacrifice my present life?

Challenging conventional wisdom is a must in the art of living well because true wisdom does not have a blueprint, just as Confucius said, “It’s not truth that makes man great, but man that makes truth great.”

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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