What makes a successful life? As we enter an era of decreasing expectations and lowered living standards, we can welcome the growing recognition that focus on material accumulation fails to deliver lasting contentment. The Protestant ethic of ambition and accomplishment likewise is proving unreliable, as it becomes harder and harder to achieve amidst intensifying competition.
Of course, by midlife most of us recognize that satisfaction more reliably derives from aligning life toward love. We appreciate the comfort gained from attending to our circle of friends and family.
So can life be considered successful if we develop deep and abundant relationships? Certainly these go a long way toward creating happiness, but an intractable problem remains. All our loved ones are mortal. Tragedy could strike and unexpectedly deprive us of those we hold most dear. And even if no unexpected calamity occurs, the relentless passage of time will eventually sever all our attachments.