Thomas Merton On Success: Best Advice Ever?


As I’ve written more than once: there is nothing at all wrong with pursuing goals, chasing dreams, and seeking the best that life has to offer.

These are all positive, life-affirming, and enormously fulfilling daily pursuits and long-term aspirations.

They can motivate us to get out of bed each morning. They can help recharge and renew us throughout each day.

But as Thomas Merton warns, the sole pursuit of success – the overriding compulsion to obtain and to achieve at the expense of everything else – can be both counter-productive during this lifetime, and perhaps deadening to our fragile souls:

If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success . . . If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.

Seek, strive, pursue, and profit.

It’s all good.

But remember: even “madmen, drunks, and bastards” may have something to teach us about the ways, and costs, of success.


Copyright 2017 (my verses)

Image Credit: Pixabay

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