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How Society Values Success

Updated: May 25

I hear people say, money doesn’t make you happy. Looks mean nothing. Success is not just about how big your house is, what car you’ve got, how big your pay packet is.


And I completely agree. But do most people really believe it, or do they want to believe it?

Because we do live in a society where value is placed on these types of “things”, these extrinsic values, that cost a pretty penny.


Materialism and success and good looks and “perfect” bodies... we all know in our intellectual minds that of course they won’t make you happy and fulfilled. So why is so much emphasis put on them. It’s an oxymoron, a paradox.


Materialism and money are a religion. In western society we are indoctrinated with success being measured by wealth and status.


I’m guilty of it myself, I struggle sometimes with what I believe and what I feel. I have a job and I’m good at it, but it hasn’t made me rich. I’m successful in helping people, I have a very busy, thriving counselling practise, with some who have been suicidal, some who are struggling with anxiety or depression or a relationship breakdown. So yes I’m successful.



That’s probably going to be said at my eulogy. Joanne helped lots and lots of people, she was such a good counsellor. And I agree. But there’s still a part of me that feels I’ve failed because I’m not financially as successful as I think I “should” be. Or is it society that’s telling me that, is it my parents, the way I was raised? I know in my head that what I do is revered. I bleat on about hedonism and conspicuous consumption, and I could fly the flag for spirituality and enjoying the simple things in life. And I’m much more content being around people who have simple, interesting lives. People who are satisfied and have enough.


But by the same token, I’m greatly influenced by the 80’s, working in banks in the city, when Yuppies were around and bonuses were huge, seeing and believing that those earning high salaries, were in fact successful. I saw them as that.


It’s a belief we don’t have to believe.


The lack mentality

I’m not good enough

I don’t have enough

I’m less than


I’m not pretty enough or slim enough, leads to feelings of dissatisfaction, lowered self worth, and always wanting more.


We all, no matter what our socioeconomic status, will experience loss, illness and pain, I think I’d rather experience those things in comfort and security. Money gives us choices, takes a layer of stress away from an already stressful experience. And enables us to live a comfortable life with material privileges. Obtain the best health care, good quality food and a comfortable retirement. But, you can make some unhealthy choices too. Sometimes too much can be as bad a too little. Money makes things easier but doesn't necessarily make you peaceful and content.


Hearing about Caroline Flack taking her own life yesterday is what propelled me to write this. Now, I know nothing about her, only what the media tells me. So I’m assuming here. On the surface she seemed to have it all.


Good looks, successful career, money, good health, friends, family, charismatic personality.

Clearly something fundamental was missing. I’m guessing that her sense of self was largely made up of what she thought she had lost. She couldn’t cope with the job loss, her image being fractured, that people would dislike her. Which is all rather vacuous in the grand scheme of things. But once again, society tells us that the Caroline Flack's of this world are successful. Maybe she believed that too and found the loss was too much to bear. If only she could have believed that it’s the simple basic things in life that are far more important than looks, money, high acheiving careers and status.

We must remember that the press and other people who really knew nothing about her apart from what they chose to tell us, need to bear some responsiblilty of how negative press can impact someone's mental health. The gravity of it is horrendous and tragic. She clearly seemd to be a vulnerable woman at this time in her life. She already had a dagger in her heart from the situation she found herself in, she didn't need more daggers from others.


How about we all take the time to look at the bigger picture of each others' lives and be less judgemental of what we see. People in the public eye, celebrities like Caroline, have two faces, the one that wears the coat of armour, the beautiful face, the charismatic personality. This doesn't "look" vulnerable. Please see beneath the surface. As someone who works in the mental health profession and has suffered myself please be kind and when asking someone 'how are you' really listen...


RIP Caroline













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