Does Success Bring Happiness?

does success bring happiness

Does Success Bring Happiness?

Why chasing happiness is better than chasing success? Why it’s important to focus on happiness rather than success? Discover the reasons why happiness and success often don’t go hand in hand. Read on to find out why you must make happiness your first goal.

Happiness is a tricky goal to achieve, particularly when you’re living in a society that measures the level of happiness by the amount of success.

When I work hard and become successful, then I’ll be happy.

That above is what our society conditions us to believe as the final truth. The one thing every one of us was told in our formative years was: success = happiness. If you become successful, then you will be happy. It’s as if none of us deserves to be happy unless we are successful.

But that notion above is false. And that false notion has led people to slog it out for years in the quest for “success” — only till the inevitable reality sets in, that success and happiness don’t go hand in hand. This carrot-and-stick approach to happiness only leads to fleeting, scarce happiness. It adds pressure, stress, and negativity to every aspect of our life.

Success is important, of course. But what’s the point of achieving it if you had to compromise with your happiness in the process? The truth is, success doesn’t guarantee happiness. It never had, and never will.

Success ≠ Happiness

What Does Happiness Really Mean?

People tend to have diverse reactions to this question. Some believe there are far more vital things to worry about; others see happiness as essentially something every human ultimately wishes for in life. To explore the conflict between success and happiness, we need to begin by looking at what happiness really means.

We say happiness is about how good we feel in the moment. But actually, it’s more than just a passing mood.

As human beings, we generally experience a wide range of emotions across any given day. Negative emotions – like anger and fear – help us defend ourselves by reacting with violence or escaping from danger. And positive emotions – like hope or faith – help us to connect with others and develop our ability to cope when things go wrong.

Trying to lead a happy life isn’t always about denying negative emotions or pretending to feel joyful all the time. We all experience adversity, and it’s natural for us to feel frustrated, sad, angry, and other negative emotions as a result.

Happiness is all about being able to bask in the good times, but it’s also about coping with the inevitable bad times. Or, in the wonderful words of the biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard:

Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being.

One prevalent misconception about happiness is happy people are somehow more likely to be lazy or inefficient. In fact, research highlights the truth is quite the contrary. Happiness doesn’t just make us feel good; it actually opens up a wide range of benefits for our performance, relationships, health, and more.

Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being. – Matthieu Ricard Click To Tweet

Economists at Warwick University conducted a research where one group of people were shown a comic movie clip, and the other set was asked to talk about their recent family tragedies. Then, both groups were asked to continue with standard workplace tasks. The result of the research showed people who were conditioned to feel happy were 11% more productive than their peers.

Similarly, researchers at Wharton Business School discovered companies with happy employees outperform the stock market year on year. Also, a team at UCL has found that people who are happy as young adults, ultimately earn more than their peers, later in life.

Happiness Is Living A Life With Passion

Picture this. You’ve graduated from college with a great GPA and landed a decent job right after college. You are efficient at what you do and get regular appreciation from your seniors.

You’ve traveled to quite a few places – basically wherever your work took you. They’ve paid for your flights and stay in return for the business deals you brought them back. Unfortunately, in all this rush, you have missed out on the things that success or money can’t provide.

You never got to sit by the seaside and enjoy the sunset. You missed the nightlife in a bustling city because you had early morning meetings to attend. Your life was driven by deadlines or important tasks that couldn’t wait. But did life wait for you? Can life wait for you?

Probably not.

Instead of running after plans, you’d better if you focus on fueling your passion. Take sufficient time out for yourself during those work trips and experience the best that a particular destination has to offer.

Your productivity will increase automatically if you are happy, and you’ll have a fresh approach towards everything you dabble in. You’ll understand it’s worth taking the time to get to know yourself and to figure out what you’re actually passionate about.

Happiness Is Being Content With What You Have

Have you been constantly plagued by the thought of “not having enough”? Are you always chasing something bigger and better? This will undoubtedly leave you empty and tired in the end.

And in that process, you are missing out on getting happiness from a lot of things that you have right now. Instead of focusing on acquiring more, you need to shift your focus towards all you have in your life at the present moment. When you start sharing what you have, you’ll find your happiness is ratcheting up.

You don’t know what the future holds for you. Hence, it is unwise to carry out all your actions based on future projections. The present is where you can learn to live fully. But most of us ignore the present, this very moment, worrying about what might happen in the future. For now, why not have a little gratitude towards life and count your blessings? Why not start to appreciate whatever you have got in your life?

Todd Kashdan quote

Success Won’t Do Any Good To An Unhappy Person

The notion that success always brings us happiness is false. Science tells us it’s better to focus more on being happy rather than on pursuing success for bringing us happiness.

Many of our challenges and problems will disappear if we were to focus more on happiness instead of success. Even the world’s most glorified and successful personalities are not infallible to the downsides of success after making it to the top. Having your talents, skills, and beauty appreciated by the world is possibly the greatest validation you can have, but it can never be a cornerstone of your happiness.

Success is not a plateau; it’s a peak. And you can’t always balance a plank on a peak-point.

If the sole purpose of your hard work is to find happiness only after you have achieved success, chances are that you might have the opposite of what you have been looking for. You may reach the top only to find out you aren’t any happier than you were when you started. Chasing success in the hope of finding happiness is a recipe for frustration.

Chasing success in the hopes of finding happiness is a sure-fire recipe to make yourself… unhappy. Click To Tweet

Fortunately, there is a simple way to avoid becoming another front-page success-story-gone wrong. It’s this:

Find your happiness first.

Cultivate genuine happiness, joy, and enthusiasm for life before you succeed. Doing this will make all the difference. Because putting your happiness first is more important than success, as research shows.

Out of all the things you can accomplish in life, finding fulfillment is the most crucial thing to achieve. Happiness is the ultimate goal of all human behavior.

Whether you realize it or not, the desire to be happy is the ulterior motive that guides everything on your list of ambitions. Whether it’s spending your life with the one you love, earning millions of dollars, becoming an entrepreneur, starting a family, moving to another country, or buying a new house. Everything that you do is influenced by that underlying desire to be happy.

Does success bring happiness? Not any guarantee.

Does happiness bring success? Yes, it does. So, it only makes sense to put your happiness above every other achievable thing in your life.

Final Words

Sure, you can strive for success. You can work hard for success. Just don’t assume success will lead to happiness.

Focus on being happy at present. Be proud of where you are in life and who you are.

You can be happy now and still strive for more. This will help you bag accomplishments as well as perform better in many other aspects of life. And you will enjoy the ride as well.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Do what makes you happy (check out The Happiness Formula).


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Authors’ Bio: John Mark is teacher and motivational speaker. He has been part of many reputed universities as a guest teacher. He is also a part of AllEssayWriter as an paper helper.
Edited and reviewed by Sandip Roy – medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular-science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.

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