Can you die of success?

In his piece, “The Patient As A Person,” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says:

Striving for personal success is a legitimate and wholesome ingredient of the person. The danger begins when personal success becomes a way of thinking, the supreme standard of all values. Success as the object of supreme and exclusive concern is both pernicious and demonic. Such passion knows no limit. According to my own medical theory, more people die of success than of cancer.

Heschel contends that “making money is expensive” and that “making money may cost us values that no money can buy.”

To combat the “virus of commercialism”, Heschel proposes the creative solution of making a personal decision to establish a maximum income.

This reminds of this episode of the Poco a Poco podcast titled, “Your Stuff is Holding You Back” about attachment.

The Franciscan Friars also speak about “the burden of stuff” and testify to the authentic freedom of learning to say, “I’m good.”

If it is possible to die of attachment, acquisitiveness, and ambition, then it is worth cultivating the antidotes – detachment, generosity, and humility.

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