What makes for a successful life?
October 28, 2002 5:48 AM   Subscribe

What makes for a successful life? Luc Ferry, French minister for education, recently released a best-seller which aims to work out what is success today and what makes for a successful life. So, what do MeFiers think - what is success? Who today is successful? What makes for a successful life?
posted by jonvaughan (17 comments total)
dale carnegie! keke :D
posted by kliuless at 6:02 AM on October 28, 2002

The Amazon.fr Gift tokens: a means simple always to give pleasure!
Nothing better when one cannot what offer or which one is caught there at the last minute to buy a gift! You can send several in an order of them.

It looks like David Sedaris translated the Amazon.fr page into English.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:10 AM on October 28, 2002

Two, it is better!

French fun aside, I think succes = Keeping up with the Joneses, n'est-ce pas?
posted by thijsk at 6:33 AM on October 28, 2002

You win when you get this house.
posted by owillis at 6:48 AM on October 28, 2002

What is success? Not dying.
Who today is succussful? So far, nobody.
What makes for a successful life? Figuring out how to not die.

Alternately: not potentially leaving the floor open to existentialists after asking those questions.

While you're figuring out how to go about not dying, however, I've found it it helps to take some time out here and there, lest the life you are trying to live drive you to suicide.

Some preemptive responses follow. The objectivists amongst us (and there are a few) will say that earning money and achievement in a more abstract sense makes you successful - what would be the point? You can't take any of it with you, and self-improvement is ultimately a losing battle. Those of an epicurean hedonist bent would say that happiness and pleasure are all the matter - happiness that is inconstant, fleeting, and you can't reflect back on after you die because there is no longer any 'you' there. I'd answer those who live for family in much the same fashion - you can't reflect back on your family, they won't really be you, and they'll forget you shortly after you're gone.

My, what a cheery topic this is.
posted by Ryvar at 6:54 AM on October 28, 2002

To paraphrase some wit from days gone by: "If you have to ask you ain't got it."
posted by Postroad at 7:04 AM on October 28, 2002

Biologically speaking, a successful life is one where you either reproduce or ensure the survival of your siblings to breed. Immortality is apparently unattainable, and hence outside the scope of this discussion.

So, apart from the obvious biological measure, you decide for yourselves if your life was "successful" or not: it's purely a relative measure and the only one setting any meaningful goals is you.

But don't lose any sleep over it: constraints outside one's control may make one feel artificially successful or unsuccessful, out of proportion to the effort one expended ...
posted by walrus at 7:06 AM on October 28, 2002

yeah, ok, the translation could be better. There is more about the book here and someone slagging it off here.
posted by jonvaughan at 7:07 AM on October 28, 2002

What makes for a successful life?
Good food, good wine, and better friends. Working to live instead of living to work. Anything else is extra.

/my .02 euros
posted by romakimmy at 7:09 AM on October 28, 2002

Success is having more kids than your neighbours. Success is not just survival.
posted by bonehead at 7:16 AM on October 28, 2002

Success implicates that there has to be something to be successful at. Since, there is no real point behind life other than to procreate, then that seems to indicate success. On the other hand, we as humans consider ourselves to beyond simply mating like rabbits. That would take away the only true reason for life, thus I say that success should be measured in happiness. I am completely happy right now, ergo I am successful.
posted by dazed_one at 7:30 AM on October 28, 2002

Ryvar/walrus: I beg to differ about the immortality thing: doesn't anyone remember the brilliance of Alex Chiu?!? [Am I the only one who just loves that he offers extra strength immortality devices?]

As for success: the word is empty of meaning without context. It refers to the culmination or achievement of a stated goal. 'Success' means that one has satisfied a hypothetical (rather than categorical) imperative.

A lot of people seem to use the word to refer to some abstract, Platonic form, particularly the self-help gurus. For centuries, philosophers have debated how to be a good utilitarian without ever settling on what 'utilitarianism' means. The debate about 'success' is a similar, but less engaging, case. I suspect that if advocates of 'success' were more clear about the terms of discussion, 'success' would boil down to little more than "being rich and not too miserable" or something equally devoid of depth. But that's just a guess.
posted by dilettanti at 7:46 AM on October 28, 2002

Success is (or should be) measured by the degree to which one establishes independence and achieves understanding of the universe into which he is born. The lower the percentage of your life that you enslave yourself to others for emotional or financial security, the more successful you are. Also, becoming aware enough to avoid the biological trap of playing pawn to your genes by breeding mindlessly allows you to transcend mere meat and achieve a certain kind of success.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. --Albert Schweitzer
posted by rushmc at 7:56 AM on October 28, 2002

There's always Ralph Waldo Emerson's take on the matter, one which I've thought is an interesting take. In the last two years, I've had more experience with "the affection of small children" than I've had since I was one, and realized that it's not insignificant.

rushmc: Great words from Schweitzer.
posted by namespan at 8:37 AM on October 28, 2002

What makes for a successful life?

posted by semmi at 8:47 AM on October 28, 2002

Success is being the all-time most commented MeFier...?
posted by *JazZ* at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2002

"I wanna claw my way up to middle management."
posted by Space Coyote at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2002

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