I like to think of success as internal or external. External can probably summed up in money. Wealth is not only wealth, it’s both power and perceived power or status. There are a few ways we can achieve this and there are many resources to learn more about it. But what about internal success?
The thing is, in the west, if you want to achieve a high quality of life, what do you do? We take care of our bodies (eat well/exercise), avoid things that harm us (don’t work in too stressful environments etc) and do things we enjoy (be with family/hobbies/etc).
Then there is Psychology. And I don’t mind telling you, the pragmatic in me is not impressed. I believe there just isn’t a very healthy base of assumptions to work up from. It’s mostly theoretical. For example I saw an interview with an “expert” on Flow (a Psychologist) that claimed you cannot always be in Flow. Also all the tips he had to achieve Flow were “external”, that is do that thing that puts you in Flow. There is no technique (like meditation) to create an internal, let’s call it a feedback loop, to create more Flow in your life. The only really effective thing Psychology has achieved is CBT, and there are some serious questions as to it’s efficiency.
In the East, they are more evolved in this area. They have Buddhism. The point of Buddhism is not really (depending a little on who you ask of course) to be a religion, but to create a bunch of tools to achieve “Enlightenment”. Enlightenment is when you always have Flow. You never -ever- leave it. In my humble opinion, if you want to reach a higher quality of life, Buddhism is probably the most mainstream way to achieve it. But there are a lot of issues, even with these 2500+ years of techniques. First, the nomenclature is absolutely horrible (imho). They are designed to be poetic, rather than descriptive and to the point. I do love the idea of Occams Razor in terms of keeping things simple! There is a lot of ritual also, that’s just not nessecary. Then you have to find the right type of Buddhism (the most efficient one) and then someone who is actually skilled! Not an easy task. And even then, Buddhism is, relatively speaking slow.
Buddhism is also, the same as Psychology, mostly problem oriented. Some call it solution oriented, but the solution to what is the question. For me this is a question of fundamental Philosophy. Do I want my main focus to be on the problems, or do I want my main focus to be on where I want to go, in the future? For me the answer seems simple. I like to think of the brain like a dog in this regard. It works best if you give it simple instructions. Present it with the future you want, in a correct way, and it has a tendency to move towards that.
My primary focus is human cognition, from a pragmatic standpoint. I have focused on two things there. One is to teach dyslexics to read and write perfectly, the other to teach Flow. The more Flow you have, the more internal success you can be said to have. The latter is also very useful if you want to teach people anything. The more fun we have the better we learn. I hope this is something that will achieve greater acclaim in traditional pedagogics. But more on that later.