Friday, May 18, 2012


The Contented Achiever: How to Get What You Want and Love What You Get
[by Chris Crouch, Don Hutson, and George Lucas] is a book I recently purchased for my Amazon Kindle ebook reader. Much of it revolves around a discussion of being contented or not, successful or not, two important characteristics of human life. I agreed with most of it and recommend it to you highly.

In the ongoing game of life, we play the cards we are dealt. We seem to win or lose. We respond both to winning or losing and to how well we feel are playing the game. “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game” is one approach. “Winning is everything” is another.

Our external results are conventionally labeled “success” or “failure,” and are measured in terms of money, fame, power, honor…. Our internal state of mind can be characterized as falling between “fulfillment” and “frustration,” largely affected by our personal evaluation of our degree of success. In his poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling advises us to meet triumph and disaster with equanimity, to “treat those two impostors just the same.” Hard to do.

The Contented Achiever's authors, Crouch and crew, present a chart with degree of fulfillment running vertically (y-axis) and degree of success running horizontally (x-axis). This gives four quadrants, which they use to illustrate types of outcomes.

High success and low satisfaction (“I can’t get no satisfaction“) typify many soap-opera types, Unhappy Beautiful People. They have it all, except happiness. Avoid this.

Low success and low satisfaction typify life’s losers, “Tar Pit People,“ some with well-earned unhappiness, some merely victims.

Low success and high satisfaction describe the group the authors labeled “Oxymoron People,” because not succeeding and yet being happy seems contradictory. The authors noted, “Oxymoron People may be artists, writers, engineers, parents of a dozen foster children….they are living the life they choose and feeling happy….” Viewed from their own perspective, they have redefined “success” and moved into our fourth category.

“Contented Achievers” have succeeded and are satisfied. Be there, if you can, and most of us can. Ambitious, but not infeasible, goals and a philosophical approach to life can put one here.

I have written this for the readers of partly because Asian Americans, such as my step-children, are among America’s most successful groups, and deserve to enjoy satisfaction, rather than enduring dissatisfaction from the gap between their achievements and their aspirations.


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Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is the author of Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, available from,, and Outskirts Press. He is a freelance writer and a book-writing mentor. Contact: