Driving to work in downtown Dallas, there are a couple of places where it makes sense to exit the highway for a mile or so and then get back on in order to avoid traffic bottlenecks. In doing this, I've noticed a stray dog for the past couple of weeks hanging around the same general area. After a few days of ranging over an area, then a smaller area, then a specific intersection, and then a particular corner of the same intersection, he has remained in that same spot day after day. I didn't know why, until Monday when I was behind another vehicle at the stop sign that the dog hangs out at and I saw the driver roll his window down and toss a mostly-eaten Egg McMuffin to the dog, who promptly devoured it in one bite. This animal has figured out that if he hangs out at this one specific point, people throw food to him.
Similarly, when I first started working downtown, I noticed the street beggars that asked passersby for money. There weren't a huge number of them, and it didn't cause an uncomfortable feeling for me. But day after day, I grew to recognize the exact same people in the exact same places, indicating that they, like the dog, had concluded that inhabiting those specific places resulted in people giving money to them. You may ask yourself, "well, if they make enough money to eat and live and do whatever it is they do when they're not there, why wouldn't they continue to do so?" In the case of the dog, I can agree with that train of thought: his only thought is of food, and he can run around for enjoyment as much as he likes.
But with people, the thought should not be of only food or alcohol or money; it should also be about what is done in exchange for that money. When an action is taken, it is taken either for the intrinsic value of that action, or for the expected outcome of that action. People should not be assessed as successful or unsuccessful on the basis of their net financial worth (a mere outcome of action taken); rather, success should be judged based on the enjoyment they experience in the activities undertaken in pursuit of their livelihood (the intrinsic value of the action taken) as well as the contribution, positive or negative, that is made by them to society as a whole (an effect of the action taken that extends beyond the individual taking the action, of which our awareness makes us human). If a person makes $100,000 per year by stealing other people's belongings, and he thoroughly enjoys himself while doing so, he is still not "successful" because he places such a drain on other individuals. If a person makes $5,000,000 playing basketball and brings great joy and excitement to millions of fans, yet he does not enjoy himself in the process, then he likewise would not be considered a success as a human being. And finally, in the case of the person who enjoys the work he or she does, and makes enough money to sustain a lifestyle that agrees with him or her, and helps their fellow man in the process, that person may be considered successful - at least by my standards, which may be different from yours or anyone else's. Those people are exceedingly rare to come across, and if you are fortunate enough to know of one, then you will know what I'm describing. Almost all of us fulfill one or two of the three requirements, but not all three, and to me, the realization of all three is what every one of us should be striving to attain.