Letters from the Dorm: How do you measure success? It’s not about money, but relationships with friends and family

By Abiel Ma, University of Sussex, Britain

Let’s not focus on how big your bank account is or how fancy your home is - ultimately it’s about your faith and the people around you

By Abiel Ma, University of Sussex, Britain |

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In the face of looming exams, Abiel's friends took time to celebrate his birthday.

What is success? Typically, when someone says, “Oh that person is so successful”, they tend to mean someone who has a nice car, a big home, and lots of money.

I grew up in Hong Kong, a city many people come to to make money. I can’t count the number of times I heard of someone being “successful” because of how many businesses they own, or the square footage of their home, or how much they make in a year. But you know what? Money doesn’t matter when it comes to success.

British philosopher Alan Watts once said: “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing to go on living; that is to go on doing thing you don’t like doing, which is stupid.” That doesn’t sound like success to me.

I was raised in an amazing family with parents who love me and care about me. They’ve taught me, inspired me, and encouraged me, and even sometimes made me do things that I didn’t want to do, because they knew it would benefit me.

I grew up with a younger sister, whom I’ve listened to music with, shared memes with, had fun with, and ultimately get to call one of my best friends. I get to be a role model to her, which makes me want to live my life to the best of my ability because I have someone looking up to me.

I have a group of great colleagues that I work with as we try to make a positive impact on the world.

I have Jesus in my life, someone who will always have my back, will support me, and will lead me throughout my whole life.

I have a bunch of best friends who value the same morals and standards that I do. In the face of looming exams and deadlines, they were willing to sacrifice a day to celebrate my 21st birthday with me.

These, to me, are better markers of success than money. An even greater success will be when I am able to take care of my parents, my family, and my friends. It will be getting married and having children with my future partner and, when that day eventually comes, teaching my kids the way my parents taught me, and caring for their every need and helping them through life. It will be growing old with my future wife, and loving one another day after day.

Don’t look for success in the amount of money you make, or how many material possessions you have. Open your eyes to the successes that are already in your life.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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