- Politics and Social Issues
The secret of good times, of achievements and success
What is the secret of good times, a life of achievement and success?
A Good Question?
Walk into any library. The subject with the most number of titles can be seen to be hovering around success, management of progress or, how to become an achiever.
Most Common Answers?
Look closely to find that almost all of this deal with a few essential ingredients of good life and success, an imaginative selection from a rich collection of abstract entities that form part of human culture. Look more closely to find this as nothing but an intelligent combination of certain basic tenets, of course dispersed meaningfully among different titles.
(If, say some time in the future, one is to go through the literary wealth of the twentieth century and thereabouts to make an opinion of people and their lifestyle, the most significant finding shall be this: Twentieth century humans were always obsessed with the idea of success, as though it is not a natural element of life.)
Why is it so difficult for humans to achieve success and be happy in life?
Some More Answers
One of the earliest to pontificate on such matters, Greek philosopher Plato, has deliberated at length on such questions. If I risk giving a simplified version of his views, it goes like this. In each one of us, abstract ideas exist that accept, reject, celebrate or enjoy other abstract ideas. For example while facing a question from a child, it is the abstract father who should (ordinarily) respond. If question is from wife, the abstract husband, if it is about certain facet of the republic, the abstract citizen, if it is about enjoyment, the abstract child in one, and so on appropriately take position as the responding form. As long as the idea and the responding form in each of the cases is matched properly, communication and all the ensuing affairs also shall proceed in a smooth manner, ensuring that every transaction reaches its completion and every endeavor ends fruitfully.
From the look of it itself, the above approach can be considered as a wise step towards achievement. All writings on success, all the books about happy life which were prevalent at various instances of time, more or less depend heavily on these findings of Plato. So also is the advance we made in many branches of science dealing with human transactions.
But the matter didn’t end there. Our quest for the secrets of success and good life continued regardless. Through many of the expositions of later years, like, Epicurus and pragmatic thought, St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and the theologians, Machiavelli and the thought that end justifies the means, the relentless search progressed. John Calvin and predestination, Francis Bacon and the need to look beyond what we see, Thomas Hobbes and the need for an equitable society, Descartes and the primacy of free will, John Locke and the desirability of a liberal approach, Leibniz and the thought that man can’t have all answers, Voltaire and the love of freedom, David Hume and the significance of rational approach, Rousseau and the importance of personal liberty, Adam Smith and free market, Immanuel Kant and the role of human mind in worldly affairs, Karl Marx and the suppression of classes by classes, Sartre, Camus and the existential existence, as well as Simone De Beauvoir and the feminist onslaught are some of the better known ones to mould our present. Such pontification on philosophical issues is continuing unabated, however at a noticeably reduced scale, as we cross the period of industrial revolution.
Where do you fall
I feel successful with my life
The Missing Stuff?
Couple of things stand out. In these writings, there is a well discernible slant towards the obscure, as we move away from Plato and advance in time. (Though the ‘learned’ ones may view this as an indication to the fact that humans are thinking deeper as time moves by, I take this as our desire to move more towards the irrational.) But, as we saw above, after industrial revolution, such approach seems to have taken a hit. I think, as science moved more and more secrets of the nature to our drawing rooms, the topics of discussions naturally took recourse towards the rational. In place of esoteric topics to hold our interest, as we had to resort to deeper and deeper insight into the newly learned secrets of the universe, each and every part of our daily life became a perfect fit for concentration, devotion and reflection. However, rational topics were found to be grossly unsuitable for these acts, since, sooner or later, an answer originates, effectively putting a stop to further transactions of the intellect. This necessitates, either another topic to ponder or, resorting to deeper consideration (and other intellectual commerce!) of the one already in use. (Concede, deeper insight into anything can result in welcome changes in our life and living, however, certain unwelcome intrusions are also our share. A visible effect of such bombardment is the constant attempt of our society to grapple with these changes. This many a time result in an unforeseen and destructive ambience and send out a rather incorrect message, of a race constantly at war with itself.)
What Stands Out
One of the few abstract topics left is the one dealing with achievement, success or good life. Naturally, repeated use of this topic will have to be necessarily proposing different approaches to these issues, each having the potential to result in many books. Some parts of those books may contain findings and recommendations that are appropriate to certain instances of time, place, or the type of people involved.
However, the secret of success, as explained by Plato, still remains the only analysis, valid in all circumstances and at all times, while having applicability in real life.