How does a woman in the workforce find success and happiness? We have explored a variety of media in an attempt to find answers to this question. Success and happiness are often linked. Mary Jamis stated that, “If I have success without happiness, then the success is empty. If I am not being successful at what I do, then I can’t feel very happy” (M. Jamis, personal communication, October 15, 2013). Like success, happiness can mean something different to everyone, however the same cultural beliefs that contribute to the definitions of success also contribute to the definitions of happiness and common themes appear.
The definition of success is often linked to cultural expectations. The “American Dream” is closely associated with success. The house with the picket fence, the cars, the summer vacations are all possible with success. “Success is probably the highest value in American life. It relates to so many other characteristics of American life--individualism, freedom, goal-setting, progress, experimenting, social mobility, pragmatism, and optimism. Americans want to ‘make a success’ of themselves” (Nussbaum, 2005). This is something that has been instilled into us as American citizens since we were small. We spend our lives trying to achieve this goal.
Comparatively, other cultures have differing views of success. In many Asian cultures, the drive to succeed consumes them from the time that they are small children in school, up to when their own children go to school. According to a USA Today article from August 2013, education in Asia is seen as the only path to success. Fear of failure, competition, pride, and parental demands fuel their success, and thus, their survival (Breitenstein). An article in Bloomberg Businessweek discussed how the cost of education in Korea is the second largest factor in the decline of consumption, greatly affecting their economy. Their culture of high priced education as a key to success is such a concern the government is trying to intervene to curb this belief that contributes to 42 percent of their university students being considered “excess supply” (Kim, 2013).
In class, we discussed the Danish view of success and watched a 60 Minutes episode from 2008 titled “The Pursuit of Happiness”. An interview conducted with Dr. Kaare Christensen referenced a 2006 study that illustrated how the Danes set lower goals for themselves, thus achieving them more often and being more satisfied with their lives. They themselves do not feel that they are any more successful or happier than any other culture, just that they are content with what they are able to achieve in their lives (The Pursuit of Happiness, 2008). The Danish culture sharply contrasts to the American culture of “never enough” discussed by Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly. She advises that we should “be grateful for what we have” and not be tempted by society’s notion of scarcity (Brown B. , 2012).
Success is often thought of as being a linear path....