"The world envies success." Thus spake Barbara Streisand, as quoted in the Sunday New York Times.
Is that true? It may well be. In any case, let's suppose it is. Then we have the question: Why?
Well, for one thing, I've seen far too many people pursue success in what becomes an almost totally selfish way - presenting the specter of one small ego ludicrously inflating itself and fighting hard to rise above all others, who are often either doing the same, or keeping busy resenting those who are. An old Hindu proverb says, "True nobility consists not in being better than some other man, but in being better than your previous self." From a deeper perspective, success isn't about beating others. It's about developing yourself.
An Australian once told me that, in her culture, people resented stand-out success, almost always seeing it as an unfortunate and unseemly assertion of the self over others. But could Streisand be right that it's ultimately envy that underlies even such resentment?
I've come to believe that we're all born to flourish and succeed, with our own talents, in our own ways, and on whatever stage is right for us. That success could look very small from the world's point of view, or large. But consider the possibility that any such appearances that seem to equate size with importance are just wrong. When we unconsciously believe that bigger is always better, and judge size by physical parameters such as money, fame, and power, then we put ourselves into a position where unnecessary and inappropriate envy can indeed arise.
Consider the possibility that common standards of success are just crude measures that sometimes manage to mark real achievement and life impact, but that also just as often miss the heart of the matter altogether. A humble person with a small life may be a huge success in things that really matter. And perhaps that's the sort of success that should be envied.
Are you making the positive difference that you're here to make? Don't waste your time worrying about whether your current form of success is big enough by the standards of the culture around you. Just be concerned about whether it's right for you. And if you're not yet where you truly want to be, you'll have a clearer sense of the direction you need to move in.
Know yourself. Know your proper form of success. And work toward it with a mindset that allows others their own suitable forms, however different, and without resentment or misplaced envy.