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By: Dr. Afiniki Akanet, author of Fortitude and Life Without Coffee, Choosing Happiness Over Stress
Posted on: Jul 10, 2019

Why Success is the Best Revenge

I have always been interested in the saying that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’. As human beings, we like to see justice being done - even more so when we feel unfairly treated. We can often choose to take matters into our own hands to try and give people ‘a taste of their own medicine’. We purposely or unconsciously try to make people pay for the wrong they have done or said to us, because it sometimes seems easier than forgiving and letting go. You can hear it when people scream with excitement at the television when the bad guy in a movie meets a terrible end. The satisfaction of seeing good overcome evil is something we all enjoy.

The only problem with this is that we all have different perspectives. Some people believe ‘the end justifies the means’, and will easily argue that their wrongdoing was for a greater good. Others, especially if they are the unfortunate victims, will never see the good in that same act, no matter how well it is painted. Besides, human beings can be naturally selfish and defend whatever side favours them. If you have lived long enough on this earth, you will also know that we sometimes get things wrong. We might misread situations or people’s motives, sometimes because of our own mental state or limited knowledge at the time, and later find out that they actually meant well all along. I know, for sure, that someone ‘stealing’ my sandwich is a much bigger issue when I am hungry or stressed, than when I am not! It would be a shame to react harshly straightaway and later realise that we actually over-reacted. This is probably why the ‘cold revenge dish’ is not a completely bad idea - because it, at least, gives you time to think about your plan of action and be intentional. My main problem with this idea, though, is that people who refuse to forgive are often unhappy and even bitter without realising it. Whether it takes ten days or ten years to prepare that ‘cold dish’ of revenge, it is time we willingly invest into the hurt and pain that we could have moved on from.

I know that it can be hard to completely abandon the idea of revenge. We often like to feel in control and see people regret the wrong we feel they have done to us. Some will spend hours day-dreaming of a cheating ex-boyfriend coming back to beg on his knees, or a nasty boss losing his job, or an arrogant woman losing her wealth. There sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why some mean people seem to be doing well, while bad things happen to good people. Could it be that they may not always be the bad guys really? Could we have misunderstood or misread some situations?

All this has made me decide that success is the best revenge. Instead of wasting time wishing bad on people and hoping that they get what we think they deserve, we can invest our energy into developing ourselves and doing what makes us happy. Success and happiness are very personal. What makes me happy may be different from what makes you happy, but we all know happiness when we see it. It is worth taking a moment to decide what success means for you and focus your efforts on that. Running after success as others define it will only make us more stressed and unhappy. Achieving ‘success’ just to spite or impress others will only make you more miserable after all is said and done.

We have different life journeys, different strengths and different passions. It is usually obvious when people are desperate or trying too hard to be what they are not, and that does not look like success to me. People respect you when you are true to yourself. It is best to focus your energy on being the best version of you, so that even those who really didn’t mean well for you will see the successful person you are becoming and hopefully change for the better. Everyone likes to associate with success. If, by any chance, you actually misread people’s intentions towards you or had a flawed perspective, then they will genuinely be happy for your success because they truly meant well for you. If they were really being mean and wanted your downfall, then there is no worse pain for them than to see you succeeding and living a happy life, despite all they did.

I remember being part of study group once, where the girls seemed slightly clicky and I was not sure if they really wanted me there. Eventually, they started meeting without me and only one of them had the decency to tell me the truth when I kept asking about the group meetings. I could have taken it personally and remained bitter for months, but I chose to discuss it with my husband and move on without any grudges. I later started another study group and passed the exam, only to find out that some of the girls from that click had still not passed the exam and even humbly joined my group for revision! If I had misread their intentions, then no harm was done to any of us - I did not waste my time being bitter and they got to enjoy their group; but if they really meant to treat me badly, my success was the best revenge.

The fact is, people will always ‘reap what they sow’. Do not let someone’s actions or attitude stop you from enjoying your life and purpose. Whether it is in friendships, marriage, work, family, studies or business, continue to be the best you can be, ignore the negativity, and choose happiness over stress.

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