"It's very easy when you've had success to buy into the ego world of safety and the status quo of doing what everyone around you is doing, calling that "normal," and to drop into a habitual life of doing and staying busy, raising a family, buying a house and decorating it, and changing cars. But once you've chosen a spirit-driven path at any time in your life, you may go to sleep for a while; even the modern-day mystics do, but there's no going back. Spirit will speak - no matter what!" - Kristine Carlson ("From Heartbreak to Wholeness")
Now I understand more clearly why I feel uncomfortable every time I hear a friend or a former colleague of mine wish me "success" in reply to my confession that I'm leaving academia. This is because what they seem to mean by "success" (in the materialistic world) is nothing but one of what I consider subtle distractions in life. I've even asked some of them and verified that the most suble distractions, or what they call "successes", are professional achievements, which in turn lead to power, status, fame, approval, recognitions, etc.
All these "successes" can only flatter our egos. I've heard quite a few spiritual sages I admire repeat that not only don't they make us truly happy but they also distract us subtly from looking inward, so to speak. Worse still, many people equate these subtle distractions in life as their life purpose while they aren't even means to the true purpose.
So it's so sad to see so many cognitively intelligent people brag about their illusions to get instant gratifications, which are illusions of the second order, in the social media, etc. It's even sadder to see that they don't even seem to be aware of all this.
I've learned the hard way that the so-called "failures" in the materialistic sense of the world can often lead to true successes in the spiritual sense of the world, helping us grow spiritually and raise the level of our consciousness. Unfortunately, few of those who live in their egoic illusions don't seem to understand what I mean, and some of them have even accused me of trying to preach what they - or to be more precise, their egos - consider utter nonsense (they confuse post-rationality with pre-rationality).