Jean Pollack Ph.D.

Creativity as a Way of Life

Is Success A Choice?

What is success?

Posted Jul 20, 2011

A woman caught my attention while I was flying to south Florida recently.

The woman behind me was having a discussion with a man sitting next to her. She was describing success as a comfortable place, where she can live the way she wants and be happy. "Say, that's how I live my life" he responded, as if he needed approval before sharing his lifestyle."I don't have to work. I get up at 5:30 am. I live on a lake in Maine, walk 4 miles, kayak an hour, eat breakfast, read, maybe take a motorcycle ride, come to Florida for the winter and bring my Harley. Last year I did 16,000 miles in 9 months on my Harley".

"I love to walk and kayak" she responded. "I am settled and happy where I am. Life is good. Never stopping....I think that keeps you young and feisty maybe" she added.

1. Staying active is part of success.

"When you stop, things change" he added.

Inspired by the topic I thought more about what success as I wrote notes to myself. The woman next to me asked if I was a writer. I replied that I was writing a blog about success. She was a young lawyer, and mother of two. She lived outside of DC. "The media and our society measure success with the size of your car, your bank account, your house, level and quality of your education neighborhoods, but I think if you love your work and stay true to your beliefs in spite of what you are pressured to do around you, that is success. I see so many mothers over scheduling their children, the children are stressed with constant structure, no free time, with the goal of getting them onto the best teams, into the best schools, best colleges, best jobs etc, but human interaction and casual ability to relax is missing. It's very hard not to get caught up in that", she explained.

2. Love your work and stay true to your beliefs in spite of what you are pressured to do around you.

Many of my clients come to me after they have given up such a large part of themselves to achieve 'success'. Some of them are in their 30's and 40's are financially successful, with a large homes, admirable degrees, high income, children in the best schools and highly structured in many activities. Everything looks good from the outside, but taking a closer look; people are overly stressed, have insomnia, and are too tired to engage with each other at the end of day. Women and men emotionally overeat and men more often use pornography as an escape (when men watch pornography, 58% of their marriages end in divorce). Couples also reduce stress by having a  couple of alcoholic drinks at the end of the evening to relax. Many times their children are highly stressed from a schedule that doesn't allow for down time so they develop symptoms of ongoing stress that carries into the school, where the teachers are overly stressed by the demands of children who are coming from these high expectation homes. The teachers are also trying to cope with their lives which are stressful from demands at home, not enough down time; expectations of them at work....STOP! Is this success or are these people working toward the idea of what they've been told success is?

3. Success is staying active, being healthy, doing what you enjoy, laughing and having loving relationships with others.

Later, my friend that I was visiting told me that success is speaking your truth, not denying yourself. Contentment and having a set point of peace at the center of your being, pure in love, where daily challenges are met with integrity and creativity is success. Her partner's description of success was succinct. He said that success is an honest monogamous relationship with millions of dollars which allows us the freedom to travel and explore.

4. Success is living your truth, speaking your truth in an honest relationship.

5. Success is freedom to live your life the way you choose.

Albert Einstein said "Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value". I thought about my son and what a man of value he is. I believe that success is not financially measured but is about developing oneself into the person you are here to be.

"'There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way". Christopher Morley

Is success a choice? We can have moments of success if we are present. It may be a moment of interaction with a loved one, a breath of fresh air, the sun on our face, but in that moment we can be successful and build from there to more moments, but if we are never present, we will never experience the success of developing our truth and enjoying the time we have here with those we love. See more about successful creative living at

* Copyright (Jean Pollack)