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Real Success is Becoming the Person You are Meant to Be

Updated on August 26, 2011

Aristotle, one of the pioneers of western philosophy who lived in the 4th century BC, said: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”, and “All men seek one goal: success or happiness”.

In fact, there seems to be a void within the human soul that presses us toward this goal. Everybody wants to be successful and happy, but only few ever achieve success. Why?

The reason of this sad reality, simply said, is a wrong definition of success that leads to embrace wrong approaches to life. The truth of the matter is that success, as defined by the world, may bring you some kind of happiness, but not necessarily the type that can fill the void mentioned above.

Different Levels of Happiness

According to Martin Seligman, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the founders of Positive Psychology, there are three levels of happiness:

  • Pleasure: The delight caused by the satisfaction of your physiological needs and your other deficiency needs such as your needs for safety, security and for belongingness. The accumulation of possessions, material wealth, and everything that contribute to a pleasant life procure this kind of happiness;
  • Engagement: The feeling that you experience when you are lost in the moment, completely engaged in whatever you are doing. You experience engagement whenever you feel a sense of gratification for being of service. This type of happiness comes also with a certain sense of self-esteem and significance;
  • Meaning: A feeling of fulfillment produced by being engaged in a cause greater than oneself. This type of happiness derives from striving to be and do what you are meant to be and do in life. It characterizes the state of mind of he whose “soul sings for having awakened to the totality of his calling”. In No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline , Brian Tracy, referring to this level of happiness, wrote “The happiest of all people are those who feel that they are doing something worthwhile and important with their lives.”

These three levels of happiness correspond to the satisfaction of needs that are felt at the three different constitutive parts of our human nature. I would not like to engage into the debate on whether man is tri or bi-partite being. After all, everybody seems to agree that human beings have basically two dimensions in their constitution; one immaterial and another material.
We are made of a spirit and a body, and the bible reports that the union of these two components produced a functional entity called “soul,” the organ of consciousness which comprises the intellect, the volition, and the “heart” (seat of our feelings and emotions).

Recognizing Your Need for Fulfillment

All human needs can therefore be categorized in three groups: physical, psychological and spiritual needs. The satisfaction of our physical needs produces pleasure whereas the satisfaction of our psychological and spiritual needs produce engagement and meaning. What satisfy one category of needs cannot help meet the needs of the other categories.
The void referred to in paragraph 2 is the expression of our need for fulfillment; it is a spiritual need to become all that we are capable of being. Abraham Maslow called it "need of self-actualization". Our mistake is to try to quench a thirst which is spiritual in essence by material means, and as a consequence of this wrong approach we seem to be interminably empty and, in some cases, depressed and exposed to the risk of committing suicide.

Real success in life is not something to be achieved, be it wealth, fame, or power. The object of life, according to T.D. Jakes, author of Maximize the Moment: God's Action Plan for Your Life, is to get “there” before the bell rings, and its challenge is to wake up to the totality of your calling. In another words, real success in life is becoming the person you are meant to be, which implies knowing your purpose. Being precedes doing, and doing precedes having; material things and recognition come as rewards or bonuses.

It is when you engage yourself in fulfilling your life’s purpose - a lifelong process - that you become successful. You then experience the higher level of happiness that makes you feel content even in times of lack, anonymity, and hardship.


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    • Stolive profile image

      Stolive 6 years ago from Botswana

      Thanks for dropping this comment, Akune. I totally agree with you, flowing in our talents and calling(s) requires the right positioning. I like your wording.

      Thanks for the blessing as well.

      Stay blessed!

    • akune profile image

      akune 6 years ago from Surrey, England, United Kingdom

      Stolive, thank you for writing this and allowing people to reflect on their levels of engagemnet and fulfillment in their undertakings. You know, when we are rightly positioned, we flow in our talents and calling. Bless you.

    • Stolive profile image

      Stolive 6 years ago from Botswana

      Hi Panguerita. I'm happy you enjoyed reading this Hub. It is a privilege to be counted among those you can learn from. Wisdom comes from above, and God knows how much I need it. I love and respect TD Jakes, as well as his teachings from which I, myself, don't hesitate to learn.

      Thank you so much for your comment.


    • panguerita profile image

      Rita Hanks 6 years ago from Little Elm, Texas

      Enjoyed your wonderful Hub, and I am learning much, from your wisdom and also from the comments. I am quick to respect anyone who loves the teachings of TD Jakes and his God!

    • Stolive profile image

      Stolive 6 years ago from Botswana

      Thank you for your comment, Temirah.

      M. Seligman is following the path laid by A. Maslow. The promise of Positive Psychology of a fulfilling life through focusing on and developing our strengths is very seductive, and I must admit that I like it.

      But the problem with it is that its approach is humanistic, therefore too ambitious...

      "It is easier to be pulled up rather than to be pushed up while climbing". The spiritual approach, to me, is more effective.

      I really feel welcome.

      Thanks again, Temirah.

    • Temirah profile image

      Temirah 6 years ago

      Beautifully written and expressed. I'm a Martin Seligman fan too - his research is so simple but so true. Welcome to Hubpages Stolive and keep writing!

    • Stolive profile image

      Stolive 6 years ago from Botswana

      Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comment, Kimh039. I really appreciate it as it makes me feel very welcome in hubpages community.

      Positive psychology and self-actualization studies have brought their stone to the building of our current state of knowledge. But i think there's still more to discover, understand, and realize about human nature. It seems that positive psychology is unable to explain why or how some people with certain basic needs not yet met can be happy, I mean really happy...

      I agree with you that the needy should be met where they are and be given what they need, but my point is they can be given more than what they perceive as need and be content. The subsequent question would be then, what is it? My answer is something that transcends everything that is material.

      Their basic safety needs, contrary to what Maslow taught, are not a handicap to them being fulfilled.

      Thanks again Kimh039.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thanks for the refreshing opportunity to reflect on human value and spirituality. Positive psychology studies the positive character traits of successful and well adjusted persons with the idea that we can develop positive character. Maslow studied the most successful people of his time and is quoted as saying, "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a crippled psychology and a crippled philosophy."

      I hear stories all day every day of people filled with despair and hopelessness whose basic safety needs are not met. They are so badly damaged that the idea of self actualizing is incomprehensible. In today's economic climate, working people are worried about job security and insurance, indicating that their safety needs are not met either.

      I'm not sure how this relates to your point, Stolive, but these things came to mind as I was reading. I suppose it is like the parable of the fishes - where the people were hungry and were given food rather than a sermon! They were met where they were and given what was needed.

      I think positive psychology and self actualization studies are commendable and worthwhile, yet disowning and devaluing what is "crippled" is a bit crippling as well.

      Welcome to hubpages. I look forward to more hubs from you, Stolive.

    • Stolive profile image

      Stolive 6 years ago from Botswana

      Failing to differentiate our need for fulfillment from other needs, and attributing inappropriate resources to its satisfaction is not only frustrating - more especially when the realization that what we’ve been aiming at in life is not as satisfying as we thought it would be takes place - but can also be fatal.

    • Stolive profile image

      Stolive 6 years ago from Botswana

      Thank you, Happyboomernurse. You make me feel warmly welcomed in this place, which is encouraging.

      Regarding your comment, you're right. The time is particularly appropriate to remind us this truth: we can be happy in times of difficulties when we're engaged in fulfilling our respective life's purpose.

      Thanks again, Happyboomernurse!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Welcome to Hub Pages, Stolive. This is a great first hub! I like the values you embedded in it, and agree that "It is when you engage yourself in fulfilling your life’s purpose - a lifelong process - that you become successful. You then experience the higher level of happiness that makes you feel content even in times of lack, anonymity, and hardship."

      In today's hard times, this is particularly important to remember. Am rating this hub up and useful.