A note from China: the strange and relative feeling of success

The 48th floor in the Club Lounge of the Sofitel, Kunming. A bartender rushes towards me with sparkling water and fresh lemon every time I finish my drink. Through huge windows I watch the Chinese city stretch out all around me. It’s night and the city lights seem no different than the ones in Perth or Amsterdam.

It feels strange to me to stay in a 5 star hotel. I’m feeling successful, but the setting confuses me. I’m normally not the type that judges success by money, right? Then why am I feeling successful?

I then realize that the feeling of success is relative. Of course money doesn’t buy me happiness. I have friends and family who I love and who love me in return, which is my main source of happiness. But love can be cruel, when you can’t enjoy it. Sadly enough, money does buy me time. Time to spend on the things that make me happy. When I’m able to manage my happiness well, I feel successful.

As I look down at the city below, I think of how many loving people are working late nights under horrible conditions. The lady who has driven me here from the airport, had her 10 year old son with her in the car. She works at night, leaving her other 3,5 year old child with her mother. She hates her job, yet she’s been a taxi diver for the last 9 years. But, she said, “at least it’s better than the factory job I had before”.

I have family, friends and the socioeconomic position to spend time with them. Yet I am sitting here by myself in a foreign country that uses symbols that I don’t understand. Am I doing something wrong? No. In fact, I’m doing so extremely well, that I have enough time to spend it with my family and friends ánd alongside it I can see the world in order to satisfy my curiosity and intellect.

My current position is ludicrous. It’s important just to have enough. Enough money, enough time and enough health. In short enough absence of worries. In a consumer world that is built to create needs, being happy isn’t always easy. Through advertisement and the people around us we’re made to feel like we always need something more. A new TV, a bigger car, a holiday, a better job, a fitter body. But the less we need, the more easily we’ll have enough. And the happier and more successful we’ll feel.

I feel successful, because I have WAY more than enough. I feel like my possibilities are endless.

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