I was at the dentist office this afternoon and overheard the following conversation. One of the dentists said:
You need to brush your teeth so they will look white and shiny. Once you're a dentist then people will come to you because you have white and shiny teeth. You will have an excellent business.
If you have bad teeth as a dentist, nobody will come to see you. You will have a bad business.
You need good business as a dentist, so make sure to brush your teeth so they're white and shiny.
When you're a successful dentist with a lot of money, you can buy an expensive sports car and drive around town to show all your friends.
I was in the other room so I couldn't see the dentist and the patient. Presumably the dentist was talking to a little kid and teaching him/her a lesson on dental hygiene. The kid was probably getting his teeth fixed or something, hence didn't speak a word. In the back of my mind I found it fascinating and mind boggling that the dentist was making the association that being successful meant having a lot of money and having an expensive sports car. Is this really the message that we're giving to the younger generations? The dentist was implying that having an expensive sports car meant one is successful. Does successful mean having a lot of money? Why do we seem to associate success with money?
Successful by definition is accomplishing an aim or purpose, or having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction. I would say that being successful does not mean having a lot of money. You can be a successful parent by raising a great kid and spending quality time with your kid; you can be a successful husband/wife by loving your spouse and always be there for her/him; you can be a successful individual by being involved in the community and volunteering your time to help others around you; you can be a successful person by finding your life purpose and fulfil your purpose in life.
Associating money with success is like associating attractiveness with anorexic bony-stick thin. It simply doesn't make sense. One problem of this association is that we're always comparing ourselves with people around us. That $25,000 "expensive" new car isn't expensive anymore when your neighbour just purchased a $40,000 car. Instead of feeling happy and successful, we feel that we're unworthy and some of us may even become depressed. The only solution is to beat our neighbour by having an even more expensive car. This eventually leads to a vicious cycle of buying more things for the sake of showing others that you're "successful."
Is it right for us to judge someone whether he or she is successful or not? Perhaps we may see this person as unsuccessful, but perhaps this person sees himself or herself as extremely successful. Why? Because they're happy and content with their lives. They feel that they're making others around them happy; they feel that they're contributing positively to the world around them; they feel that they're making a difference in their communities by helping others. If this person does not drive an expensive sports car, does not have the latest electronic gadgets, does not live in a mansion, or does not dress in well-known brands, does that make this person unsuccessful because he or she has nothing to show for?
So how is this kid in the dentist chair going to grow up?
What do you think?