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The Obsession and Lies of Success

Of all the subjects we obsess about, success is the one we lie about the most. That success and it’s cousin money will make us secure. That success and it’s cousin power will make us important. That success and it’s cousin fame will make us happy. It’s time to tell the truth. Why is our generations smartest, most talented, most successful people flirting with disaster in record numbers? People are using all their means to get money, power, and glory, and then self destructing. Maybe they didn’t want it in the first place. Maybe they didn’t like what they saw when they finally achieved it.

– Helen Rubin, Fast Company article “Success Excess”, October 1998.

After going through the book of Ecclesiastes this past month in our church, it has been made clearer to me what life is all about and why the wisest most successful man, Solomon, concluded that life is meaningless under the sun.

As people, we are so obsessed with success. We want fame, knowledge, power, money and success. Everything to be in control of our lives and the lives of others.

Jim Carrey said something that is worth pondering about since most of us go and chase after the things the world tells us to chase.


Ecclesiastes 1 English Standard Version (ESV)

The words of the Preacher,the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?

Everything under the sun is vanity. There is no human solution to man’s search for meaning, life and happiness. Solomon said it was like chasing after the wind. It is a mist, a vapor that we want to embrace. Our world tried everything it can get its hands on – lust, power, beauty, knowledge, wealth. We see it in the headlines from our fallen politicians, the once high and mighty Napoles family, actors who committed suicide, businessman ending their lives when there business was going down the drain.

We have no earthly solution. Humanistic philosophies tells us that man is searching for the solution within himself. The problem with this method is that man is the source of the problem, therefore he cannot be the solution.

We are the product of three things

  1. Genetics
  2. Environment
  3. Personal choices

Two out of three we have no control over. Even if I want to play in the NBA – my genes denied me that right and my environment never gave me the opportunity. It is actually cruel to say you can be anything you want to be. Why? Because we are not in control as we profess or project to be.

Here is a powerful talk given by Ptr Rey Corpuz on the meaninglessness of life and what God offers us: