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It may seem odd to list fame under obstacles, especially since so many people search it out their entire lives long.  Fame seems to be one of the most desired states available to us, and it's often paired with another "desirable" term--fortune.  So then how could we possibly talk about fame as an obstacle to a happy life?

Quite simply, due to the tremendous amount of pressure that fame brings to us.  If we become famous for something that we've done or produced, there's a huge amount of pressure from the media, from the fans, and from the people who are paying us to repeat that success.  There's also the pressure that comes from losing our private lives, and losing the ability just to be ourselves without people expecting something from us.  I love going to a restaurant and sitting down and enjoying my meal without anyone asking something of me--most famous people have lost that ability forever.

But there's another aspect of fame that makes it an obstacle to a happy life.  Fame is something that feeds our egos, that part of ourselves that keeps us thinking that we need things like fame in order to be complete human beings.

Our ego tells us that without fame, we're somehow inferior to those who have fame, and that with fame, we would have all that we need to be full, vibrant, alive people.

But that's simply a lie--we have all that every day of our lives, no matter whether we're famous or completely unknown.

All fame depends upon is the adulation of adoring crowds--if people see you as worthwhile or important or great, then you have fame.  In other words, fame is one of those things that depend upon the perspectives of other people in order to be a part of our lives, and that presents another dangerous side of fame.  When we become dependent upon our fame, we suddenly become dependent upon our ability to maintain the adulation of others, and the temptation becomes very strong to make decisions based upon how others will see our actions rather than what we know to be right or best.

How many actors do you think have taken roles that they haven't felt good about just to keep their names in the limelight?  How many singers have recorded awful albums because someone has convinced them that this is what the public wants?  How many writers have written what they think their public wants instead of what's in their hearts?

In other words, fame is something that can make us compromise our principles or integrity when we want to maintain it or gain it, and that's something that never can be good.  Those are two things that never should be compromised, yet that are compromised regularly in the pursuit of or the maintenance of fame.

Fame is much like money--it doesn't seem to be the fame itself that harms us, but the desire to have it that makes us act as we wouldn't act if we were acting from our hearts.  The desire to be famous can cause us to harm other people in our attempts to be famous, to be people that we know in our hearts are simply not the authentic people we were meant to be.  And that can never be something that leads us to living our lives fully.

Know the difference between success and fame.
Success is Mother Teresa.  Fame is Madonna.

Erma Bombeck


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For as yet I did not understand fame, that public destruction
of one in the process of becoming, into whose building-ground
the mob breaks, displacing his stones.

Rainer Maria Rilke


You know, there's a moment when you're famous when it's
unbearable to go out because you're too famous.  And then
there's a moment when you're famous just right.

Steve Martin


The fame of heroes owes little to the extent of their conquests
and all to the success of the tributes paid to them.

Jean Genet
Prisoner of Love



The people itching for immortal fame do not see that everyone
who remembers them will themselves soon die, and the next
generation in its turn, until these memories, transmitted by people
who foolishly admire and then die, will perish.
But even if these people were immortal and your memory
stayed alive forever, what does it matter to you?  What
good is praise to the buried, or even the living, except for
some practical use?  You reject Nature's gift today if you
cling to what people may say of you tomorrow.

Marcus Aurelius


The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can
do well; and doing well whatever you do, without a thought of fame.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Of present fame think little, and of future less. The praises that we
receive after we are buried, like the posies that are strewn over
our graves, may be gratifying to the living, but they are nothing
to the dead; the dead are gone, either to a place where they
hear them not, or where, if they do, they will despise them.

Charles Caleb Colton


No matter how much fame you have, itís not something that belongs
to you.  If Iím famous, that doesnít belong to me--that belongs to
you.  If you canít remember who I am, Iím no longer famous.

Michael J. Fox


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Not long ago a friend brought an aspiring young singer back to my dressing room after a show.  She was close to signing her first record deal and asked if there were any words of wisdom I could share with her at the beginning of her career anything about fame I thought she should know.

I told her what my mother told me when I was a teenager singing in the Beulah Baptist Church choir.  After the service, everybody in church would make a big fuss over me.  Especially the sisters.  "Patsy" they would say, "you've got the voice of an angel.  Your solos are so pretty they could make a sinner see Jesus."

My mother never said anything in front of the sisters.  But once we got home, Chubby made sure I understood something far too many people don't:  Glory is never diminished by being shared.

"You're not singing by yourself child," Chubby would say.  "Next time you're standing there soaking up all that praise, I want to hear you give the choir some respect.  If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.  A whole bunch of candles can be lit from one without diminishing it.  Now I know it's nice to have people treat you like a queen.  But, unless you know how to wear it, a crown only has to fall a few inches to be a noose.  Don't you ever forget that."

I never have.

Patti LaBelle

Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen,
and drowns things weighty and solid.

Francis Bacon

Fame always brings loneliness.  Success is as ice cold
and lonely as the North Pole.

Vicki Baum
Grand Hotel

Fame is a bright flower, but weeds abound mostly around it.

Edward Counsel

Fame and secrecy are the high and low ends of the same fascination.

Don DeLillo

What is Fortune, what is Fame?
Futile gold and phantom name--
Riches buried in a cave,

Glory written on a grave.

Henry Van Dyke
ďThe TalismanĒ

The desire for fame tempts even noble minds.

St. Augustine
The City of God



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Fame is a pearl many dive for and only a few bring up.  Even when
they do, it is not perfect, and they sigh for more,
and lose better things in struggling for them.

Louisa May Alcott

There is nothing wrong with being successful in society and enjoying
a degree of fame.  But ultimately, the lives of those dedicated to the
welfare and happiness of others, even if they remain unrecognized,
are the ones truly worthy of respect.

Daisaku Ikeda
Buddhism Day by Day



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