There are many tried and tested methods to achieve happiness and success in life, yet many of us feel pressure to conform. We doubt ourselves when we do not want what everyone else wants, or when we don’t see the value in achievements in which others do. Maybe there is something wrong with us? The truth of the matter is: success is relative. Both happiness and success mean totally different things to different people. And there is not just one way to achieve both these states.

For instance, we all know the benefits and advantages of higher education, yet it is not the only way to achieve your career goals. Some very successful people, who never even completed high school, have gone on to establish themselves as entrepreneurs. Education is important, however so is perseverance and determination. It doesn’t really matter how expensive or illustrious our education was, if we don’t have the right attitude it will be of little consequence to our success.

Some believe success to be home ownership, some a happy marriage, some a career; the definitions are endless. The important thing to keep in mind is success is different for all of us and comes at different points in our lives. No two people live identical lives; the common social conditioning which tells us that by a certain age we should have established our careers, gotten married, or bought our own home, is not the absolute truth and should be regarded as such. A comparison with others breeds contempt and ultimately we realise they are just thoughts; thoughts we can’t always rely on for validity and truth. As we are all aware, our thoughts are not always true reflections of life but a concoction of our own beliefs and insecurities.

How dull life would be if there was only one way to live!

It is challenging to go against the flow when everyone else is doing the same thing and pursuing the same goals, but it just takes a change in mindset to view it from a different perspective. If we imagine everyone living the same lives, trying and achieving the same goals, going about their lives in exactly the same way, there would be no diversity, joy or spontaneity. Life is unpredictable and what better way to enjoy its riches than to live it without conforming to regimented ideas.

Unhappiness and frustration are born of the pressure to conform to what everyone else is doing. For instance, if we look to the art world for inspiration, how terribly limiting if there was only one mode of creative expression, if every other mode was viewed sceptically because it was not the norm. What if painting was the only acceptable form of creative expression? How would other artists, sculptors, performers, writers, and musicians express themselves? It is the same for our own pursuit of goals; what if there were only one way to achieve success and it was through career? What would happen to those who are not at all career focused, how would they achieve success?

Perhaps we can learn to stop our thoughts from running wild with comparisons when we are pursuing our goals. If we become aware of the diversity inherent in life, then maybe it’ll remind us there is no single way to happiness and success but a multitude of ways.