Many people try to define success. Our society certainly defines success. Its default mode is: success is determined by job status, money, possessions, and recognition of elevated status by others. This is the idea that Alain deBotton questions in this video.
During the holidays, many people feel less-than-great. Sometimes they compare themselves with others in a negative light or think about hopes that failed to materialize. If you've ever thought that you weren't as much of a "success" as you thought you should be, this talk from Ted.com may help.
Most people have doubts and regrets if they've lived long enough. And one's work or career is a lightening rod for feelings of success and failure.
DeBotton says that, in our Western society, the very first question anyone asks is: "What do you do?" If you are currently out of work, working in a company that's going through a reorg with its attendent uncertainties, unhappy in your job, not rich, unable to reach your dreams, then his perspective may give you some helpful perspective.
There are many wonderful things about self-help books and the principles, attitudes, and methods that are said to produce success and wealth. They can motivate us, give us new ideas, and give us hope.
Think and Grow Rich has sold millions of copies worldwide. And many credit the ideas in the book with helping them make their fortunes. The only problem with wonderful inspirational resources is that they are based on the absolute belief that one can control one's life absolutely.
The flip side is that if you aren't a "success" by society's terms, then you are completely responsible for being a "failure". In this philosophy, there is usually no room for accidents, whether fortunate or unfortunate (were you born in the US or in Myanmar?), randomness, societal inequalities, etc.
Better to go into family, work, and community gatherings at holiday time with a sense of generosity towards yourself and other people, regardless of work situation. Neither overly admire those in high places or blame those who appear less fortunate. Life is too complex for us to make judgments and/or assumptions about another person's work or lack of work.
No one needs extra helpings of blame upon self-blame, especially at this time of year. So be gentle with yourself. And regard others with compassion.