Have you ever thought about what defines success? Or more importantly, the cost of getting there? It is very tempting to think that success is fame and fortune. That life’s purpose is about having a lot of money and being happy – regardless of how you get there. Examples of this lifestyle are paraded in front of us all the time. This past year we saw Jon and Kate‘s marriage dissolve into oblivion as both looked for happiness. South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford abandoned his post (left the state AND his family) in his quest to be with his “soul mate”. Another not so well known example was Maria Housden who appeared on the Dr. Phil show to defend here choice of being a non-custodial parent as she traveled and wrote her book.
I’m not here to judge anyone, yet I see a trend that I think is jeopardizing our culture. We all have dreams, but the question is what do we do about our family while we pursue them? Here are some examples I have seen over the years:
- A mother or father (I’ve seen both) leaving the family because he/she believes he/she is gay
- A couple divorcing because one of them needs time to follow their dream and the full time responsibilities of raising a family is getting in the way
- Moving your family very often while having a new company on your resume every two years
- Continuously working 60 – 80 hour weeks to get that promotion and neglecting your family in the process
- A couple divorcing because one of them has “found someone else” that makes them happy.
I know everyone has a story. And every story is different. But in today’s society we are seeing a trend towards hedonism, or the unhealthy (as compared to healthy) pursuit of happiness. The question I am asking is, whatever happened to commitment? The problem I have with people abandoning their spouses and families in pursuit of a dream, is that it is changing the underlying fabric of our culture.
I believe that the recent financial meltdown was a result of this trend. It wasn’t just bankers, real estate agents and mortgage brokers who were responsible. We all were. All of us believed that we were “owed” happiness. We all believed that we could basically do whatever we wanted and that there would be no penalty to pay if we were wrong. We were all trying to get rich, without thinking about the underlying methods of how we were trying to get there. This is a direct correlation to leaving our families in pursuit of happiness. The basic underlying principles are the same. That self is more important than anything else.
So what is success? In America we have the freedom to pursue happiness. However, there is an unhealthy trend that has been growing over the past 50 years that may unravel the very soul of our country. Are we chasing the wrong things? I know sex and money always sell. But is that what happiness is really about?
At what point does our culture crumble because we are putting self before family?
I would love to hear your thoughts!
All the best!
All the time!