It seems to me that a successful life is one that has been spent trying to do the right thing; the accumulation of wealth or power are at best unimportant and peripheral.
A truly successful life is one in which a person has wisely and intelligently done his or her best to make the world a better place on whatever scale: local, regional, global; either for Mankind or for any or all sentient life.
A few examples of wasted or misspent livesTony Abbott was, for a time, Prime Minister of Australia and he would love to be again. While in power he did all he could to slow action to limit climate changing emissions in Australia. He gained a high position in the Australian hierarchy for a time, but will be condemned for his actions by the historians and people of the future. The same applies to the Prime Minister at the time of writing, Scott Morrison.
Are these successful lives? I think not.
Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer have made millions if not billions of dollars out of mining and exporting coal. They have resisted the introduction of the renewable energy technology that will replace fossil fuelled energy and is needed if future generations are to have lives that are not greatly inferior to those enjoyed by my generation. They too will be recorded as some of the worst criminals of the era.
None of these people have been living what I would call successful lives.
More recently (March 2019) ex Vice-chancellor of
Western Australia's Notre Dame University,
Celia Hammond has decided to run for federal parliament denying anthropogenic climate change.
She will quite probably be despised by her grand children (if she has any); what a foolish decision!
A few examples of what I might call successful lives, lives lived with the needs of the people of the future in mind.Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has been very active in pressing for renewable energy development and funding innovative Australian projects.
Elon Musk, with his concentration on batteries and electric vehicles, is helping the world to transition from fossil fuels to renewably generated electricity.
Similarly, Sanjeev Gupta, the English billionaire who 'saved the Whyalla steel-works' in South Australia, is showing that renewable energy and energy storage such as in pumped hydro power is the best way for Australia's energy dependent industries to go in the future.
I know nothing about the lives of Musk and Gupta until the last few years, I have given their names because they are doing good while Abbott, Morrison, Rinehart and Palmer have been behaving very destructively and evilly. Both Musk and Gupta have their failings, but they seem to me to be doing far more good than harm.
Bob Brown is a very different person, but he certainly is someone to be admired. He is probably the most successful environmental activist in recent Australian history and has been trying to do good for decades.
These three are examples of people who will go down in history as progressive and visionary.
I would call these people successful.
The unsung heros and villainsThe few people I've named above are either Australian or well known to Australians. There are a great many less known names that could be placed in the groups that are on the right or wrong side of history. I've also written a page on good and bad people.
How will the people of the future look back on your life?
Ask who?: if you were able to ask the most respected people in the world about climate change what would they say?