If you Believe Success is About Money you Need Better Values

What matters most in life cannot be expressed in dollars

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Depending on what side of the Atlantic you’re on, success isn’t measured quite the same way.

A capitalistic society that commodifies everything is wont to equate success with money, assets, and fame. Conversely, one that puts people first is about deep meaningful relationships, be they family or friends.

Countries that emphasize solidarity at institutional level as is the case of France and the rest of the EU are big on collaboration. America, meanwhile, is big on competition. It always has to be first, it always has to great, and it now has Donald Trump.

When it comes to goods and services, competition means suppliers remain on the top of their game, always seeking to improve their offering. But when it comes to humans, it can turn us into products and brands, which is quite dehumanizing when you think about it.

Why would we even want to package our person, our values, our beliefs into a consumable? If we take this approach then we must remember that all humans come complete with built-in obsolescence.

We’re all going to die sooner or later so do we really want to spend our every day wrapped up in ourselves seeking to amass as much cash and stuff as possible?

Money and things won’t wipe away your tears, give you a hug, look out for you, or hold your hand when you desperately need it; we, humans, get to do that for one another.

What if success were universally guaranteed?

What if instead of leading individualistic lives, we all strived to empower one another? It can work if we’re all prepared to take the matter in our own hands at individual level. What’s more, there may already be a blueprint in place.

In the EU, we have domestic and European frameworks designed not to leave anyone behind. While most every member state speaks a different language and we have different cultures, we’ve come together for the common good. In practice, this means that an EU passport is worth 28 because we’re free to live, study, and work in any of the other member states. While there’s some bureaucracy involved, it’s minimal and easy to navigate even if you don’t speak the language.

On the one hand, English has become the lingua franca almost everywhere — including in France — and on the other, there’s always a local to help you out. Or even a fellow expat because transnational mobility is quite common in certain professions.

This makes a good life — what some would call success — within everyone’s reach as long as you’re not against exporting yourself. In that sense, it’s not dissimilar to Americans who move to another state in search of opportunities.

What makes the EU work runs far deeper than fancy public buildings in Brussels or Strasbourg: it is people. Many of us are unfailingly curious about our neighbors, whose country, culture, and language we so easily fall in love with.

Curiosity is the currency of human exchanges so why are we so stingy about it?

Striking up a conversation with a random stranger has the power to upend our life but we’re losing the intellectual willingness to do this.

It’s so much easier to seek comfort in the familiar and known than to make the intellectual and emotional effort to go toward others. And even when others come toward us, we sometimes look away because we don’t like what they have to say.

We’ve forgotten questions are how we express our interest.

If we measured it in human terms, what might success actually look like?

Could it be another name for belonging?

If society is the fabric holding us together, many of us are loose threads, seams that are unraveling and might get snipped off at any time.

Such is the endemic grasp of loneliness on a constantly connected society that we no longer know how to communicate. We don’t talk to one another anymore, we talk at one another; it’s all about selling ourselves and convincing the audience we’re right.

And that, as a result, they’re quite wrong because we yet have to realize there’s actually no “they” and “us”.

No matter how many sub-groups we split ourselves into, there’s only ever been just us, humans, crammed onto this tiny blue dot.

But when life becomes all take and no give, where is the love? Where does it come from? Those who add zero value to the lives of others might get fawning fans and followers who are drawn to fame but once the moths get their wings singed, they’re unlikely to turn into friends.

How about we take it upon ourselves to put our heads together and redefine success through a universal rather than a personal lens?

What if the true measure of a human were how much love they spread around?

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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