Is there a link between success and happiness, and, if so, are successful people happier than those less fortunate?
Anurag Prakash Ray, offers a pragmatic approach, proposing that, “Positive thinking and positive attitude attracts prosperity, peace and happiness. It also exposes us towards the path of achievements and success.”
Although the question is difficult, it has already been answered in varied ways. Defining happiness and success has been just as elusive for graduates from Harvard Business School’s Class of 1963. The list from candidates includes good health, doing what you love, being in a happy marriage, raising successful children, and being totally honest.
What didn’t make their lists is, perhaps, even more significant. Not one saw wealth as the mark of a happy and fulfilled life. In fact, one grad took issue with anyone who would put too high a value on financial success, saying, “Those who persist in believing wealth brings happiness are to be pitied.”
Irrespective of love, sacrifice or pity, success is not cost free. Success demands faith and courage. It demands dedication and perseverance and it demands a visionary gaze. Luckily, there are concrete steps we can take to assure professional accomplishment, as suggested by the following.
1. Use your imagination. Envision the goal. See your goal clearly and imagine crossing the finish line ahead of the others. Intelligence, perseverance and good timing are essential elements of success, but as Napoleon Hill declared in his bestselling book, Think and Grow Rich, an initial step towards that goal is imagination. The goal must be envisioned and designed; it must be celebrated and savored. Hill believed that, “You will never have a definite purpose in life; you will never have self-confidence; you will never have initiative and leadership unless you first create these qualities in your imagination … the most marvelous, miraculous, inconceivably powerful force the world has ever known.”
2. Stay within yourself. Don’t look outside for quick and easy answers. No one has the answer to your questions but you. You are the key. You are the guru. Your name is right up there with Deprah Chopra, Echart Tolle, Cardwell Nuckols, Oprah and Wayne Dyer. The fact that we look elsewhere, in external corners and crevasses, for truth and validation, is a sign of unrealized potential.
3. Don’t limit yourself. You are never finished; your mission is never completed. There is always more to do, to achieve, to accomplish. Don’t stop. Don’t settle for the top of the mountain. There are other peaks, mountains and summits. The sky is the limit. “Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve,” says business leader and entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash.
4. Discover your purpose. Seek out that which you were meant to be and that which you were meant to do. That process of discovery is the key to happiness. Finding your life’s mission and devoting your life to realizing that dream, is the key to happiness.
Your dream will inspire and catapult you to another realm and what many define as happiness. Consider the words of Yalom: “The search for meaning, much like the search for pleasure, must be conducted obliquely. Meaning ensues from meaningful activity: the more we deliberately pursue it, the less likely are we to find it. In therapy, as in life, meaningfulness is a byproduct of engagement and commitment.”
5. Accept responsibility. Accept responsibility for the good and the not so good. Stop complaining about the weather, the economy, or the lack of customers. You need to forge through these obstacles, striving towards your goal.
6. Enjoy the trip. It’s never about the goal. It’s about “living the moment” of the journey and all of the single steps leading to that goal. Take your time. Just keep traveling in the direction that your life’s purpose is taking you. Enjoy your personal journey. Before we find contentment in our successes, we should honestly examine those goals. Sir Edmund Hillary, the 20th century explorer and mountaineer who was the first to reach the peak of Mount Everest (along with fellow climber Tenzing Norgay) proposed, “Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain.”
7. Find something to say or to sell. Articulate your personal philosophy. Amass a unique body of knowledge, formulate a theory, and write a book. Put your valuable research into a well-defined, well-articulated package. Then go out and market and promote it. Examples of these marketable philosophies include best-selling books that have been called “transformational.’ This esteemed body of literature includes Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (1989); Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936); Anthony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within (1992) and Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World (1968). These “self help” books have changed millions of lives by providing hope, confidence and empowerment.
8. Network. Introduce yourself to the universe. Meet people. Interact. Enjoy the varied energies of other personalities. Let your passion be evidenced by your direct eye contact and firm handshake. Sell yourself. Let your confidence show through. 9. Celebrate your autonomy. You are a blessed child of the universe. There is nobody else like you. You are different, unique and cut from an extraordinary cloth. You contribute much to the fabric of the universe with your individuality. Child psychologist James Dobson writes, “I have observed that the vast majority of those between 12 and 20 years of age are bitterly disappointed with who they are and what they represent. In a world that worships superstars and miracle men, they look in the mirror for signs of greatness, seeing only a terminal case of acne.”
10. Work hard. Don’t stop. Success does not just happen. There is a tried and true process, a formula leading to success. We rarely hit it out of the park the first time around. Determination and perseverance are key. Take time to reevaluate what goals are really important.
Laura Huckabee-Jennings offers an interesting perspective on our discussion. She says, “The secret to happiness is actually not at all related to setting goals and achieving them. Happiness is a state of mind that allows you to be content and appreciate each moment for what it brings, and to increase it by honoring your personal core values and purpose. The good news is that you can create happiness in almost any circumstance. We know stories of people in moments of great hardship and even torture who found happiness and joy, and others who seem to have great material, career or family success, and yet happiness eludes them.”
Does success share a common thread with happiness? Salah Barhoum has suggested another possibility, astonishingly correct in its simplicity. He instructs, “Don’t let success determine your happiness but instead let your happiness determine your success.” Barhoum’s circuitous exercise in semantics offers food for thought and consideration.
Maxim W. Furek is passionately researching the essence of
happiness. His rich background includes aspects of psychology,
addictions, mental health and music journalism. His book
Sheppton: The Myth, Miracle & Music explores the miraculous and
supernatural events experienced by two entombed miners. Learn
more at shepptonmyth.com