January 31, 2010

Success and Happiness

"Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
- Albert Schweitzer

I came across this quote few days back and it made me ponder.

Does success give us happiness? I still believe, yes, though with a caveat that it could be for a span of time. After certain time a success no longer may make us feel elated and the benchmark of defining our success changes. And rightly so, as this is the key to progress, the urge to do more, to research, innovate and create.

The chances of success in a pursuit is definitely very much higher if you love what you do and are passionate about it. The best part of being passionate about doing something is the enjoyment you would any way get just 'doing' it irrespective of the end result. The end result will also be a reflection of your passion. Like as I believe, the best recipes are always prepared by the most willing cooks or the best analysts are the ones who delve deep passionately into their subjects.

Tracy Moris writes "The key is to not confuse happiness with success. Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. In other words, instead of waiting for your circumstances to make you happy, you have to decide to be happy no matter what your circumstances."

There is no eternal success and there is no eternal happiness, so the journey is the key and to decide to be happy irrespective of your circumstances is the first step to sustain happiness.

There is another perspective to success and hapiness. Everyone would have different benchmarks of success and happiness. So it is never appropriate to comapre ones success with another's. We may percieve a person to be more successful than another, however you never know, the 'less successful' person may be the happier one.

The key is to introspect and honestly answer:
"What makes me happy?"
"What am I passionate about?"
"What do I want to do?"
With this I will leave you with another thought: Can we dare to measure our success by the happiness we have?

photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi via Flickr


  1. Interesting post!

    I agree that happiness causes success more than success causes happiness. And there's a good deal of psychological research that supports this idea.

    But happiness and success are not completely inseperable. Happiness, especially medium-term "mindset happiness", is more closely related to working towards a goal with the belief you will achieve it than it is with achieving the goal. Goal achievement is closer to short-term "emotional happiness" which is a burst of positive emotion which quickly dissipates. For larger achievements it may remain longer, but the lasting effects are generally much smaller than assumed.

    This also affects the happiness/circumstances connection. Happiness is less associated with one's current circumstances than it is with the perception that one's circumstances are improving. So if you're in a bad situation you're unlikely to be happy, and it may be hard to make the situation seem good. But if you can find even small ways to improve your situation, then that sense of progress will make you happier.

    Dr. Simon Lutterbie
    Director of Research
    iOpener Institute for People and Performance

  2. Many thanks Dr. Lutterbie for stopping by and sharing your valuable thoughts. I really appreciate your comment. You have highlighted a key point which is so relevant to our current lifestyle.