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What do Happiness and Success Have In Common?

 

Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our lives by similar thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.

We have compiled definitions of success from leadership classes, coaching and mentoring sessions, and research. Based on the key words used in each definition, we categorized the definitions into one or more representative concepts. The results were clear: People use similar concepts to define happiness and success, and the two are interrelated. Happiness was mentioned in more than 25% of the definitions of success, and the top two concepts in the definitions of success were the same as the top two concepts in the definitions of happiness.

 

Concept Success Rank Happiness Rank
Contentment (contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment) 1st (tied) 1st
Others (building positive relationships & creating a better world) 1st (tied) 2nd
Achievement (and accomplishing goals) 3rd 4th
Happiness 4th N/A
Wealth (and financial stability) 8th Not Mentioned
Success N/A 7th

 

“Happiness is more than a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment.”          

Mathieu Ricard

 

The concept of “Contentment”, which includes contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment, was the top concept mentioned in the definitions of happiness, by a significant margin. It was also one of the most identified concepts in the definitions of success. Different people, in different environments and at different times, all came to similar conclusions when they defined success or happiness. Basically, they all agreed that feeling content, satisfied, and fulfilled in our lives is foundational to being successful and to being happy.

The next highest-ranked concept in the definitions of both success and happiness was “Others”. Others includes building positive relationships with friends and family, contributing to the community, and helping make the world a better place. So most people place a high value on how we help others when they define happiness and success.

The concept of “Achievement”, which includes achieving or accomplishing goals, was the third most mentioned concept in the definitions of success, and was the fourth most mentioned concept in the definitions of happiness. Achievement is part of success, but most people also believe we will be happier if we are achieving.

Interestingly, the concept of acquiring wealth or financial stability was a distant eighth for the definitions of success, only mentioned 6% of the time; and it was not mentioned at all in the definitions of happiness.

When we started this research, our assumptions were that most people would include the concept of acquiring wealth and financial stability in their definitions of success. What we found was that the concept of “Contentment” was significantly more prevalent than the concept of wealth in their definitions. They indicated that money in the bank, a nice house, or a nice car, are all just means to help them feel contented, fulfilled, and satisfied.

 

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Is Your Chase for Success Killing You?

On August 15th, 2013, Moritz Erhardt, an intern working for Bank of America in London, died from complications created by working three days straight without sleep. He was doing a “turnaround,” which consists of an employee working all night, taking a cab home at 6 am, asking the cab to wait while he gets a quick shower and change of clothes, then hopping back in the cab to go back to work. He never got back in the cab. He was found dead in his shower. What happened?

Moritz’s death is a dramatic and immediate example of how our culture encourages many people to blindly chase success while being oblivious to the negative impacts it has on their happiness, on their health, and in certain cases on their lives. For most people these things develop over decades. The signs are there, but they are much more subtle and obscure.

I have worked with dozens of people over the past decade who speak about, research, and live happiness and success. We have analyzed definitions of success collected from hundreds of  people and found that most contained the word “happiness,” or at least concepts related to happiness. Most people connect success and happiness in their minds but have difficulty making the connection in their actions. Much like Moritz, only to a lesser degree, they pursue success single-mindedly, with the expectation that they will be happy once they achieve success; and that the more success they achieve, the happier they will be. Unfortunately that formula is backwards.

Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Personally, I have been in business settings for over 35 years, and I have seen hundreds of examples of people working hard and unwittingly sacrificing happiness in pursuit of success, which they think will make them happy. It starts out innocently enough–not having time to go out with friends, not getting home in time for dinner with a spouse or kids, not having time to exercise or pursue a fulfilling hobby–but soon amounts to missing positive moments in life because they are busy trying to build a life that will be full of positive moments.

The drawback doesn’t reveal itself until 5 or 10 years down the road, when a goal set early on has been achieved (a raise, a promotion, or a nice car); but for some reason, the satisfaction and fulfillment that were supposed to accompany the goal…don’t. I have seen both men and women break down crying from the stress of wanting to give 100% in their work, yet feeling sad and unfulfilled because they were missing time with their new baby or significant other. Have you ever met someone who felt they’d missed their biggest opportunity? It’s sad. Because missing important moments in your life leads to stress, and stress leads to unhappiness, disease, and a host of other challenges.

One example is a woman I worked with. Her name was Tina.

Tina was poised and confident, the kind of person that her peers wanted to emulate and every manager wanted to hire. She showed great leadership and had tremendous success early in her career. Five years, two promotions, and one baby later, she was sitting in a restaurant, tears streaming down her face from the stress of trying desperately to be successful in so many areas of her life while wondering what happened to the promise of happiness. She is one of hundreds of examples that played out in many different ways, but always had the same root cause. The long hours of hard work and dedication were never paid off with happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. They only led to more long hours and hard work in trying to reach the next goal, which itself was supposed to lead to happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

Let me say it again: Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

 

The challenge is that people get caught up in an ambitious chase for success and unwittingly delay or even bypass their opportunities for happiness with the belief that happiness would come after the project was finished, after the next promotion, after the next big bump in salary, or after they land that next perfect job. Too often, it doesn’t come as expected, and they end up forever looking over the horizon believing that happiness is just over the next hill. Those I have observed who did find happiness made simple, uncomplicated choices and changes in their lives. They found the secrets of happiness, and as a result, also became much more successful in the process.

 

Do you think your chase for success will lead to happiness?

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How Do Other People Define Happiness and Success?

Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our lives by similar thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.

I’ve compiled definitions of success from leadership classes, coaching and mentoring sessions, and research. Based on the key words used in each definition, we categorized the definitions into one or more representative concepts. The results were clear: People use similar concepts to define happiness and success, and the two are interrelated. Happiness was mentioned in more than 25% of the definitions of success, and the top two concepts in the definitions of success were the same as the top two concepts in the definitions of happiness.

 

Concept Success Rank Happiness Rank
Contentment (contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment) 1st (tied) 1st
Others (building positive relationships & creating a better world) 1st (tied) 2nd
Achievement (and accomplishing goals) 3rd 4th
Happiness 4th N/A
Wealth (and financial stability) 8th Not Mentioned
Success N/A 7th

 

“Happiness is more than a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment.”          

Mathieu Ricard

 

The concept of contentment, which includes contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment, was the top concept mentioned in the definitions of happiness, by a significant margin. It was also one of the most identified concepts in the definitions of success. Different people, in different environments and at different times, all came to similar conclusions when they defined success or happiness. Basically, they all agreed that feeling content, satisfied, and fulfilled in our lives is foundational to being successful and to being happy.

The next highest-ranked concept in the definitions of both success and happiness was others. Others includes building positive relationships with friends and family, contributing to the community, and helping make the world a better place. So most people place a high value on how we help others when they define happiness and success.

The concept of achievement, which includes achieving or accomplishing goals, was the third most mentioned concept in the definitions of success, and was the fourth most mentioned concept in the definitions of happiness. Achievement is part of success, but most people also believe we will be happier if we are achieving.

Interestingly, the concept of acquiring wealth or financial stability was a distant eighth for the definitions of success, only mentioned 6% of the time; and it was not mentioned at all in the definitions of happiness.

When we started this research, our assumptions were that most people would include the concept of acquiring wealth and financial stability in their definitions of success. What we found was that the concept of contentment was significantly more prevalent than the concept of wealth in their definitions. They indicated that money in the bank, a nice house, or a nice car, are all just means to help them feel contented, fulfilled, and satisfied.

How do you define Happiness?

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Defining Happiness

What we are talking about when we say “happiness?” Happiness means many different things to many different people. Our focus is on happiness as a higher-level pursuit or achievement. Several authors and philosophers have captured this concept:

 

Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk with a degree in Molecular Genetics, and author of the book Happiness says “Happiness is more than a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that pervades and underlies all emotional states and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way.”

 

Mahatma Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

 

Gandhi also said “Man’s happiness really lies in contentment.”

 

Robert Ingersoll stated “Happiness is not a reward – it is a consequence.”

Deepak Chopra said “Happiness is more than a mood. Its a long-lasting state that is more accurately called well-being.”

 

Wayne Dyer, a self-development author and speaker, explains that “Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think.”

Margaret Lee Runbeck, another author, wrote “Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”

Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle proposed that “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

 

George Sheehan, a doctor and author, wrote “Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.”

And finally, John B. Sheerin said “Happiness is not in our circumstances but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are.”

They all describe happiness as something that is within you, something that you create, rather than something that comes from external forces.

What is happiness?

  1. Happiness is a feeling of contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
  2. Happiness is a sense of inner peace vs. external restlessness.
  3. Happiness is an on-going state of well-being vs. a fleeting experience.
  4. Happiness is a state of mind, rather than an event or activity.
  5. Happiness includes bad as well good experiences.
  6. Happiness is internal and not a victim of external experiences that we can’t control.
  7. Happiness is created, not received.
  8. Happiness is within our control.

 

book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

buy from amazon white small

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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