Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Success Trap

We tell children that their inborn enthusiasm and joy are wrong. Stop goofing off, we say. Study harder! Excel! Don't make a fool of yourself! We teach them these things because we want them to succeed. We think that success requires striving, and if you're happy, you must be slacking off.

But a lot of what we teach isn't true, and those of us who are still following those rules as adults, still living our lives in fear of judgment and striving, striving, are dead inside.

We should teach children what we know in our hearts is true: It's impossible to be perfect, so give yourself a break. Do what excites you. Laughter is good. And some people will hate you no matter what.

That way, they won't have to live in fear until they're forty, like we did before we finally realized what's important.

Hard work is good. So are accomplishment and belonging. But what is not important is living up to someone else's standards.