Success and happiness: a sign of the times?

Saturday, August 17, 2013 Permalink

I made it back to yoga classes this past week, after getting out of my routine when I went away for a few weeks. Like many such places, the rooms are very nurturing. The studio has lots of soft cushions, the aroma of incense and wall hangings featuring empowering quotes.

I love this one sign in particular – and it seems to be attributed to Buddha, Herman Cain and / or Albert Schweitzer. Whatever. In a first, I made my own meme thing using a sunset from last week (a pic I took on my old iPod!).


Initially I just accepted the quote on face value. I whole-heartedly agree with the concept. We willingly do the things we love, and we often do them ‘more’, so it’s not unexpected that we would experience more success than when doing things we don’t enjoy.

But, as I’ve undertaken (and undergone) a lot of changes in this past year I decided that I can actually take the quote further. I realised I’ve had to redefine how I see success and happiness.

Success – for me – was about my career and, while not necessarily moving UP the ladder, moving onto more interesting / challenging jobs. It was about paying off my mortgage. It was about having good quality clothes. It was about being able to afford to live in the way I wanted. On a short-term / smaller scale, success was black and white. It was about winning or losing.

Happiness was very often about success. If I won (lost weight or got a job) I was happy.

For me, however, the concept of happiness was fleeting. Contentment was my end goal.

Fast-forward a year and I’ve basically committed to a life that’s more about happiness and contentment than ‘success’ in its traditional achievement-based form. So is Buddha / Cain / Schweitzer right?

Does being happier make us more successful?

It still depends… Successful by whose standards? Successful at what?

So while I struggle to define ‘success’ in my new world, I’m using the only thing that comes to mind: ‘life and living’. 

And although there’s room for improvement, I feel like I’m scoring well.

Do you agree with the attribute-less quote about happiness and success?
How do you define success?

  • Char
    August 18, 2013

    My definition of success is related directly to happiness so I guess I agree with the quote. If I am happy, my family’s happy, I’m enjoying all the other relationships in my life I feel like my life’s been successful. I don’t care much about money apart from having enough to pay bills. And I really don’t care about status.

    • Debbish
      August 18, 2013

      I have to admit, when I wrote the questions at the end, I wondered if those with families would talk about that… which made me wonder if – because I’m missing that part of life – it’s historically impinged on my happiness / contentment.

  • MIZ
    August 19, 2013

    it’s not as easy as Id surmised when I was younger—but it is definitely true.

    • Debbish
      August 21, 2013

      Perhaps life gets complicated as it goes on… Or we don’t know what we don’t know when young!

  • Julia
    August 23, 2013

    Thank you for this post, and for the beautiful picture. All of these terms are subjective – for myself the most important thing to remember is that I define what happiness and success means, no one else.

    • Debbish
      August 23, 2013

      I guess it also means that they vary for each of us… it’s a reminder we shouldn’t judge others for striving for their own version of happiness / success. (I certainly do sometimes when I think of people as being overly ambitious!)

  • HappinessSavouredHot
    August 27, 2013

    For me, happiness is not even tangible, so success (in its traditional acception) cannot be equated with it.

    Happiness is a general state of serenity.

    Success encompasses all spheres of my life. If I had a great career but a stressful family life or unhealthy life habits, I would not consider myself successful. I strive for balance.

    Nice post!

I'd love to hear your thoughts