Success is the best revenge, or so they say.
If someone has scorned you, whether they be a lover, employer, or family member, the adage is the best thing you can do to recover is not to hurt them back, as much as you may want to. Instead, it’s better to move on and live your best life.
What Does Success is the Best Revenge Mean?
Success is the best revenge is a saying that helps us realize that vengeance typically isn’t the answer. It’s human nature to want to give back what we get, especially during heartache. We want others to hurt when we are hurting, especially those who caused the pain.
But alas, although vengeance may help us feel better in the short term, the ecstasy is fleeting. Most reasonable people don’t want to cause another harm, even one that hurt us so tremendously.
The better plan is to live a life of joy and fulfillment.
Use the hurt and rejection to become the best version of yourself. Doing so will make you happier and healthier and show the losers who hurt you how much better off you are without them.
Who Said Success Is the Best Revenge?
Though the quote is often attributed to Frank Sinatra, who said, “The best revenge is massive success,” he may not be the phrase’s originator.
The basic idea can be traced to George Herbert, a 17th-century poet, who said, “Living well is the best revenge.”
It seems like these two ideas were combined into the version of the quote we regularly hear:
“Success is the best revenge.”
Why is Success is the Best Revenge?
Success really is the best revenge. Whether you are reeling from a breakup, job loss, rift with family, or broken friendship, pursuing your version of success will help you feel better and prove that you didn’t need whatever those naysayers were offering – you’re good enough on your own.
Here’s why you should consider working on yourself and living well instead of pursuing whatever vengeance you had planned.
1. Success is Great!
A crucial reason success is the best revenge is the nature of success. Being successful is fantastic, whether you’re pursuing it for vengeance, justice, or another reason altogether.
Although our work culture often defines success as financial success, it doesn’t have to be that way. Success can be whatever you want it to be. Some find success in raising well-adjusted children, while others find it in research. Whatever your definition of success, pursuing it is a noble goal, regardless of your motives.
2. You Won’t Get into Trouble
Let’s be honest for a moment. Some of our fantastical ideas of vengeance may toe the line against what’s legal. It may feel good to pour sugar into someone’s gas tank, but legally, that’s the destruction of property and not worth it.
Living your life on your own terms is perfectly legal, though. Following your passions and living a great life isn’t against the law.
I’d argue that you have a moral imperative to live your best life while you’re here!
3. Success Helps You Move On
Even a small win can brighten your mood. If you’re mourning a relationship or job, it might be hard to let go of the hurt and anger while wallowing in it. However, when you put yourself out there and score even a small victory, you will start to feel better.
Consider how those small accomplishments affect your mood and imagine that on a broad scale of a well-lived life. Before long, you won’t even remember why you wanted revenge.
4. They Aren’t Worth it
When you plot revenge against something, you allow it to live rent-free in your mind. Whatever it is, it’s not worth it. Stop spending time and energy on something not part of your path.
Instead, spend that time and energy on your personal goals and aspirations. You’ll be happier and healthier in the long run.
5. You’ll Be a Better Person
You’ve heard the other saying, “Be the bigger person,” right? Well, the better person is the one who refuses to stoop to their level.
But it goes much further than this one instance. Rising above the drama and focusing on yourself will make you better.
You’ll learn to ignore the haters, naysayers, and those who don’t support your goals. In addition, you’ll train yourself to look at the positives and maintain a growth mindset.
While those who rejected you are rolling in the mud, you will soar.
6. They’ll Ponder What They Could Have Had
A great way to get revenge is to make those losers jealous! I don’t mean flaunting a new beau in front of the ex that cheated on you. Everyone in the room knows what’s going on when you do that.
Instead, make them jealous by living your best life. Take action in your own life and accomplish the goals you’ve been putting off. Show them (and yourself) what you are really made of.
When they inevitably come crawling back, apologizing, asking you to give them a second chance, you’ll have the immense satisfaction of saying “thanks but no thanks.”
7. Rejection Can Be Motivating
Not getting a promotion after working your butt off for it feels awful. It’s even worse when foul play, such as favoritism, is suspected. You may feel the urge to burn it all to the ground or slack off if your managers don’t appreciate your excellent work.
What’s the point of trying if you’re constantly rejected?
That’s the wrong attitude. Unless the company was doing something clearly illegal, the better path is to use rejection as a motivator.
Ask your hiring manager what you can work on to be a better candidate in the future. Brush up on your skills, get certifications, and make yourself indispensable in your industry.
Then, job hop. Move on to greener pastures that value your contributions. Use the initial rejection as fuel to take your career to new heights.
8. The Victory Will Be Oh So Sweet
Think back to when you defeated a difficult boss in your favorite video game, won a sporting event after hours of training, or aced a difficult test after hundreds of study sessions. Do you recall how desperately you wanted that success, how much time and effort you put into it, and finally, after blood, sweat, and tears, the immense satisfaction you felt upon achieving it?
Now imagine how sweet the victory of living a successful life will feel after they all said you weren’t good enough. You can almost taste it, can’t you? That feeling of accomplishment when you achieve everything you ever dreamed of will feel so much better after the hard work you put into it.
9. Something to Prove to Me
The harsh truth is that sometimes, we seek vengeance as a shield for our egos. We know the better person got the job, the relationship wasn’t right for us, and the friendship wasn’t working out.
Those harsh truths don’t make rejection hurt any less.
Although revenge is never the answer, it’s doubly wrong in these instances. Instead of seeking vengeance, prove to yourself that you can do it, are worth it, and deserve better. The best way to accomplish this is by achieving success in whatever way is most important to you.
10. Success Speaks for Itself (and for You!)
One of the best things about success is that you don’t have to show it off. You don’t have to gloat or rub it in their face. When you’re successful, the world will notice.
Success is the best revenge because it speaks for you. You don’t have to gloat or rub anything in anyone’s face. They’ll see it for themselves, and then you will live rent-free in their head rather than vice versa.
Bonus: Vengeance Isn’t Actually a Good Thing
Revenge may feel good at the moment, but it’s fleeting. And more likely than not, you will feel worse or see unintended consequences.
The iconic show Buffy the Vampire Slayer illustrates the ill-advised quest for revenge with Vengeance Demons. These evil creatures seek out hurt people and manipulate them into wishing for revenge. Unfortunately, the wish is usually taken to the extreme, causing far more pain and suffering for everyone involved.
Although this example showcases the extreme effects of revenge, it’s not wrong. Seeking vengeance isn’t good, regardless of how good it might feel in the moment.
How to Live a Successful, Vengeance-Free Life
It all sounds lovely in theory, but how do you let it go and turn rejection into success? Although turning the other cheek isn’t easy, it’s not impossible. Here are things you can do to rise above it and live a successful life despite the actions of others.
Cultivate a Positive Mindset
The first step to a successful life is cultivating a positive mindset. Yes, bad things happen, sometimes through no fault of your own. It’s a part of life.
Think of the epic scene from Lord of the Rings where Frodo is lamenting his destiny. He tells Gandalf that he wishes he lived in a different time and that the ring had never come to him. Gandalf’s response rings true for anyone experiencing a difficulty:
“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The point is that you will not get anywhere if you dwell on the negatives. You don’t get to decide when bad things happen, but you can determine what to do about them. Focus on the positives and find ways to turn that lemon of rejection into the sweet lemonade of success.
Journaling is a great way to get started with gratitude. Take five minutes daily to write down five things you are thankful for. It can be anything from a supportive spouse to getting a good night’s sleep the night before.
Sometimes, when life gets rough, it’s hard to remember just one thing we have to be grateful for. Here are ideas of things you may have in your life that you take for granted – consider them and take a moment to be thankful if you have any of them!
- A supportive friend or family member
- A healthy body
- A healthy mind
- A beloved pet
- A roof over your head
- Food to eat
- An Income
- Access to technology
- A pleasant day
- A cultivated skill
This list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, and I understand everything here doesn’t apply to everybody. The point is that if you’re reading this, you likely have a few things you can be grateful for in your life.
Channel the Energy
We established that rejection is motivating, so use it! Take all your feelings and energy about your situation and channel it into getting stuff done.
A vision board is an excellent tool for channeling energy. It gives you a daily visualization of what you want and why you want it. Using a vision board can help you stay focused and on target.
When a negative thought arises, find a way to turn it into a positive action. Add the activity to your journal or vision board and try to complete it.
Forgiveness isn’t always for them. Letting go of the hurt others caused benefits you. Forgive them and forgive yourself.
However, that doesn’t mean you must forget. Forgiveness allows you to move forward with your life but forgetting can open a path toward repeating the same mistakes.
Some people never change. You can forgive the hurt they caused without forgetting who they are and that they will cause more damage in the future if you allow it.
Understanding people’s situations and emotions can help you forgive their actions. Embrace empathy in your life to recognize the struggles other people have.
You may find they didn’t want to hurt you but couldn’t see past their own hurt to realize their actions caused harm.
Practicing empathy will give you the tools to discover when people are hurting and incapable of seeing outside their own perspective. The practice will help you avoid hurtful situations in the future and gain a greater appreciation of humanity’s inherent flaws.
With this skill, you’ll appreciate how pointless revenge really is.
If your lust for vengeance prevents you from moving on, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you work out your feelings of betrayal and set you on the path to healing.
You should consider speaking to a therapist if any of the following applies:
- The rejection consumes you – it’s all you can think about
- You have a pattern of acting out in vengeance
- You’re unable to function due to negative thoughts
- Success seems unobtainable
You might consider therapy for numerous other reasons, and not all need to relate to revenge. Please remember that there’s no shame in seeking help for any reason.
What if You Really Want Revenge?
Success is the best revenge. Don’t let your anger cloud your judgment.
If you really want revenge, become successful.
You could take no other action that would be as satisfying in the long run as living a happy, fulfilling life.
It’s within your reach, so go after it!