In this essay, there is an analysis of the concepts of success and failure. My hypothesis is that success and failure are human-built and subjective concepts that are changeable to the point of being retroactively altered due to a change in perception. My analysis shows that success and failure are constructed by the mind, and are therefore defined by human experience, emotions, decisions and judgment, ergo success and failure do not have standard parameters or set rules that apply to all people and all circumstances.
Success and the release of endorphins
The idea of success is often associated with some sort of achievement, and that is somewhat correct, except that success should involve some sort of effort. As a result, one also assumes that the effort is challenging enough to create a hit of endorphins once it is over. So long as the endorphins are not released due to artificial stimulation, then one can assume that success has occurred. Some people do enjoy the process enough for a substantial release of endorphins, but one could argue that in that case, the process is just as much part of the success as the outcome is.
Failure and feeling bad about it
One has to assume that if success involves feeling good, usually with the aid of naturally occurring endorphins, then failure should feel bad. Most research done into the concept of failure has shown that people feel some form of sadness, regret, anger or negative emotions about failure. One assumes that in evolutionary terms, the negative feelings around failure are part of our survival instincts. However, even if it feeling bad about it is a natural compulsion, it does suggest that overcoming your basic instincts is all that is needed to turn failure from a negative experience into a feeling-less, void, or even positive experience.
Retroactively changing a scenario in your mind
It is quite possible to look back in hindsight and see a possible failure as a success. In a crude example, people that have talked themselves out of a poisonous or destructive relationship may feel rotten at the time and think they have failed. However, over time, the person that walked out may see the relationship for the destructive mess that it was and therefore see the breakup as a success.
Failure only occurs when you actually quit
One undeniable fact is that you can define failure as giving up, in which case, failure only occurs when you quit. A nice example is Edison and his light bulb. He tried over 3000 prototypes before finally making a sustainable and commercially useable light bulb. After his first prototype failed, he could have chalked the project up as a failure and quit, in which case the project would have been a failure. However, he kept going until he invented the light bulb, ergo he was successful because he didn’t give up. It can therefore be argued that he never failed, and that what appeared to be failure were simply steps towards success.
As you can see by my essay, success and failure are human-built and subjective concepts that are changeable to the point of being retroactively altered due to a change in perception. My analysis shows that success and failure are created by humans and are defined by human experience, emotions, decisions and judgment. The “human” element, when it comes to the definition of success and failure, is the reason why success and failure do not have standard parameters or set rules that apply to all people and all circumstances.