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The definition of success

The definition of success varies widely between cultures and individuals, depending on their goals in life. A prime example of this differentiation exists between members of industrialized and unindustrialized societies, due to the great variation in their member’s day to day lives and value systems. Many of these differences become apparent when one examines the daily existence of the individual- for example, the acquisition of basic food and shelter. In a non-industrialized society, members frequently reside in close-knit communities.

This is often the case due to the daily pressures of subsistence living; that is, growing one’s own food supplies and maintaining living quarters. Non-industrialized societies typically require a greater amount of manual labor input to sustain themselves, and in that light the majority of its people will spend most of their time farming and raising animals for food. Such work is typically done more efficiently when efforts between individuals are coordinated, therefore encouraging group cooperation.

An individual I such a society would likely deem themselves successful if they succeeded in furthering this group dynamic- they would be a successful farmer and an active member of their community. Industrialized societies, however, place far less emphasis on the community and more on the individual. Members gain the benefit of greater automation in their everyday lives, and therefore can spend less effort in acquiring basic living needs, and can focus more of their time on more complex activities such as trade.

Since basics like food and shelter are more plentiful, the individual would begin to take these things for granted and not use them as a measure of success. Instead, they would consider themselves successful if they did well in their business interests (the president of a highly valued company, for example) or owned a large amount of “luxury” type goods- that is, personal possessions not needed for survival (such as a nice car, ostentatious house or fancy electronics).

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