The thing about being a fish is that you don’t know that you’re swimming in water.
The thing about being an American is that you don’t know you’re addicted to success.
For the fish, the water is its whole world.
It does not even register on whatever primitive consciousness the fish may have that it is in this liquid medium, and that there is another whole world of air and space that exists outside of it.
Unfortunately for the fish, he can’t survive outside of the water, so he’s probably better off not knowing about the world of air.
We humans are in a similar situation.
From virtually the day we are born, we are taught to orient ourselves toward success.
As we learn to walk and talk, we receive praise for each new word and each new step.
As we grow up and go to school, we learn how to get the affirmation and attention we need by conforming to the expectations of adults and peers.
And as adults, we climb the career ladder, try to make more money, get a bigger house, take more impressive vacations, get more promotions.
We count each trophy our children earn and tick off each box on their college prep resumes.
There’s nothing wrong with this orientation toward progress per se.
In fact, it helps us accomplish a lot of good things in our lives.
If we didn’t value and strive toward success, we never would have learned to walk and talk and read and get into college or get a job.
We need success to get the basics of life taken care of.
But just like the fish, there is a whole world outside this water of success orientation that we don’t know about. Continue reading