Success & Happiness – Are these mutually exclusive or interdependent?
When I am asked this question, I always say it all depends on how you define both these terms. Before I delve into the explanation of my response, I would like to quote the great scientist, Albert Einstein. He, famously, said – “…If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.”
Each one of us is born unique – our abilities, strengths, weaknesses, worldview, fears, and aspirations are all unique. No two people can be completely identical, not even identical twins. Therefore, it is only fair to say that no two people can have the same measure of success. Unfortunately, this is not how it happens in the real world.
We are often driven by what we see around us – we are fed images of what success looks like. All our lives we are bombarded with measure of success as defined by other people. In academic years, success is measured against marks scored by the topper, in professional world success is measured by higher salaries, designations, corner offices etc., in personal life success is measured by the right age to be married, the car you drive, the balance in your bank account etc.
We are constantly striving to overtake the person ahead of us, only to find that there is someone else we are trailing behind. There will always be someone ahead of you in the race of life. And here we come back to the questions of success and happiness. If you are a fish and you are trying to climb a tree, you will neither be successful, nor happy. Even if you did manage to slide up the trunk a little, you will die of asphyxiation!
To be successful and happy, you must set your own standards and measures of success. Do not be bogged down by the measures of success defined by people around you, set your measures based on your abilities and aspirations. You can look at others for inspiration, but never for comparison. Because comparison will always leave you feeling short, on the other hand inspiration will propel you to succeed.
The choices you make impact not only the quality of your life but also those around you. Learn that material success does not bring happiness. And this is precisely the reason why we are witnessing increasing number of people who are grappling with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem.
So how does one avoid falling into this trap – by giving up on ambition and desire to do well in life? The answer to this question is simple – No. Happiness does not mean absence of ambition or desire. It simply means aligning them with your ability and potential. Here are a few things that play a critical role in ensuring success and happiness:
You must have a great degree of self-awareness to know what you WANT to do and what you CAN do. When you have clarity on what you want to achieve and how it is aligned to your capabilities, the probability of you achieving your goals increases exponentially.
Do remember, only being self-aware does not yield results; brining about changes in your thinking and behavior does. You must learn to leverage your strengths and circumambulate your limitations, and if possible, overcome them.
Next is to find your purpose in life – a purpose that you can identify with, a purpose that, by itself, motivates you. When your goals are in sync with your capability and values, you experience greater contentment. As you let your instincts guide you, there is greater sense of calm and control. Keep reminding yourself of your purpose and let your actions be driven only by what you expect from yourself.
This an important factor that impacts success and happiness. Not everything in life is equally important and not what is important for others may be equally important to you. Therefore, to ensure your success and happiness, it is imperative for you to know what is important for you.
Prioritize people, tasks, things based on how important they are for your overall happiness and well-being. The priorities can change from time to time, situation to situation so it is always a good idea to revisit them from time to time. Nothing is set in stone.
Always remember, life is like a roller-coaster ride – there will be highs and lows. Not all your efforts will yield results, not all your goals will be achieved and not all your desired will be fulfilled. The important thing is to not give up.
Failure is a great teacher. Learn your lessons, correct your course and march on. Always remember - your failures do not define you, lack of trying does. Only you can define what your being successful means. Staying true to one’s real self, with feet firmly planted on the ground is half the job done. Compete with yourself, strive to be a better version of yourself and success will follow. Be happy! That is the meaning of a successful life.
Failed relations. Rising debt. Out of work. Am I out of luck?
Oh no! No, no! Not at all! On the contrary, Life's on a new trajectory. I may be out of orbit, But I am free To find direction, A new destination.
I am a shooting star, A trailblazer. Lighting up the sky, Even if for a moment, before I die.
~ Jaspriya Gandhok ~