As I see it, there are two types of success: external and internal. External success deals with what we acquire or accomplish—the kinds of cars we drive, the homes we live in, the awards or honors we win, the positions we hold in our companies and the net worth we amass. Our culture places a high value on external success, and as a society we commonly strive for it before—and often at the cost of—internal success, which is concerned not with what we have but instead with what we ARE. Internal success is rooted in intangibles such as the quality of our relationships, our health and vitality, our connection to divinity, the depth of our compassion, the amount of peace and beauty in our lives and our capacity to give and receive love.
Larry spent the better part of his life achieving a remarkably high level of external success. In the last half of his life, he began to place a greater emphasis on internal success, but by then he’d already paid a terribly high price in a number of ways, most notable of which was his health, and he passed away at age sixty-four.
My father always seemed to have a great perspective regarding money, however, and he had a number of sayings regarding it. One of my favorites is, “Money’s just numbers on paper and a tool for doing good.” He understood that no amount of money can bring us happiness.
Studies show that once our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are met, an increase in money will only increase our happiness to a certain point. After that, a large increase in our income or our net worth doesn’t bring a corresponding increase in happiness.
There’s nothing wrong with external success, but I encourage you to keep in mind the importance of internal success as well. As you climb the ladder of success, make sure it’s not leaning against the wrong wall.
What are the ways that you balance your internal success? Leave a comment below and share what you know!