We have been raised with the notion that success will bring happiness. Most of us, including myself, believe that our achievements whether in school, career or in relationships will cause happiness. Therefore we tend to pour in a lot of hours and effort into work hoping that we will achieve success, and in turn gain happiness.
Maybe you have noticed how people who have successful marriages, great relationships, a good career with comfortable income or high status in society are usually happiest people around. Or maybe it is just the way our current society has moulded our way of thinking, leading us to believe that success is the only route to happiness. But have you ever wondered which one comes first, happiness or success?
To be forthright the two, happiness and success, are probably interrelated in all sorts of complicated ways. But to only talk about how success leads to happiness is ignoring half the story.
The idea that achievements and accolades will lead to your happiness is not quite right. What happens when you reach a big goal of yours? Do you feel really happy? Elated, even? For how long? I mean, how long do you maintain that elevated feeling of euphoria after you reach a big goal? For a lot of people that feeling is short lived. When we achieve we experience joy that will last only for that moment, it could be for an hour, a day, a week or even a few months. But once the moment of achievement passes, so does our joy. When then embark on another journey aiming for our next goal, our next big achievement, our next fulfilling happy feeling.
So in effect what achievements do is to just create ‘happy moments’ and not ‘happiness’.
Happiness attached to achievements is happiness with a condition. Sometimes it may feel that you will just be happy “when…” And then when that condition is met, well, you’re not really all that happy, at least not for long.
Therefore I can confidently say that ‘the greater truth is that success does not create happiness, but happiness can create success.’
Why is that so?
Happiness is infectious, it is attractive. I am not talking about the happiness that is attached to objects, people, or achievements. I am talking about the happiness that stems from within. This happiness is a natural state, which when acquired, makes you feel good, look good and even make others feel good about themselves. This is the happiness that will even make you more attractive.
When you are happy you become more attractive, and that means you attract more positive things to you.
Just ask yourself these questions. Whom would you rather do business with, someone who is happy, energetic, upbeat and enthusiastic, or someone who is gloomy, negative, downtrodden and boring? Who would you want to be in a relationship with, someone who is always complaining makes you feel worse about yourself or someone who is positive, energetic and brings life to the room? Well if you are like me the answers to those questions are pretty obvious.
Now let’s take this a step further. How exactly does happiness lead to your eventual success?
Well for starters, being happy brings about a positive mood which enables you to become more creative. People in a positive mood are more likely to think with originality and flexibility — perhaps through encouraging playfulness. When you are creative you start trying new things which will make you have success rate of solving difficult questions. You will become more successful at work and relationship, as those areas sometimes surround with difficult questions.
Happiness makes your energetic and spontaneous. When you choose to be happy you will find that people instantly gravitate to you. People will naturally like you more so your social networks will grow allowing you to meet others on a professional and personal level that you may not have met had you not been happy.
Happiness will also make you healthier. If you are happy you are much more likely to be in better health. Dr Derek Cox, Director of Public Health at Dumfries and Galloway NHS, says “There is mounting evidence that happiness might be at least as powerful a predictor, if not a more powerful predictor than some of the other lifestyle factors that we talk about in terms of cigarette smoking, diet, physical activity and those kind of things. If you are happy you are likely in the future to have less in the way of physical illness than those who are unhappy.”
Happy people also seek out and undertake new goals that reinforce their happiness and other positive emotions. When you’re happy you perform better.
So why not work on your personal happiness a little bit more. When it is coupled with other factors that contribute to your success, like intelligence, fitness, social support and expertise; it does have the power to create the success that you desire to have and not the other way round.
The biggest mistake most people make is assuming that success or achievement alone will bring you happiness. But in actual fact, happiness can be achieved, or found, or created or however else you can think to come by it. There is no one, set formula and only YOU know how to make yourself truly happy.