In the pursuit of a fulfilling life, happiness and success often emerge as two significant goals.
It’s natural to assume that achieving success in various aspects of life, such as career, relationships, or personal achievements, would automatically lead to happiness. After all, societal norms often link success and happiness together. However, the relationship between success and happiness is more complex than it may seem.
This blog will explore whether success truly leads to happiness, delving into the factors that influence both concepts.
Defining Success and Happiness
Before diving deeper into the topic, let’s establish a common understanding of success and happiness. Success can be defined as the achievement of one’s goals or desired outcomes, be it in career, finances, education, or personal growth. On the other hand, happiness refers to a positive emotional state characterised by feelings of contentment, joy, and well-being.
The Illusion of Success as the Key to Happiness
Many individuals believe that achieving success in their chosen fields will automatically bring them lasting happiness. Society often promotes the idea that wealth, fame, or accomplishments are the gateways to a fulfilling life. This belief is perpetuated through media, advertising, and the stories of highly successful individuals who seem to have it all. However, research and personal experiences reveal that the link between success and happiness is not as straightforward as it appears.
The Hedonic Treadmill
The “hedonic treadmill,” a phenomenon discovered by psychologists, argues that people naturally adapt to their surroundings. This suggests that success may temporarily increase a person’s happiness, but that eventually, their baseline happiness level will return. As the initial satisfaction boost wears off, this may result in an endless search for more achievement. The relentless pursuit of happiness might be hindered by a cycle of unhappiness and dissatisfaction brought on by the persistent pursuit of success.
Subjectivity of Happiness
Happiness is a subjective experience that varies from person to person. What brings joy and fulfilment to one individual may not have the same effect on another. Therefore, success, as defined by society, may not align with an individual’s personal values, desires, or aspirations. It’s essential for individuals to define their own beliefs of success and pursue goals that are genuinely meaningful to them, rather than blindly chasing societal standards. By aligning personal success with values, we can increase our chances of finding genuine happiness along our journey.
Beyond External Achievements
True happiness often stems from factors that go beyond external achievements and material possessions. Meaningful relationships, personal growth, a sense of purpose, and a positive mindset are all crucial components of a fulfilling life. While success can contribute to these aspects, it is not the sole factor. Happiness is multi-dimensional and involves various aspects of life, including physical and mental well-being, social connections, and a sense of belonging.
The Importance of Balance
Finding a balance between success and happiness is key. It’s important to recognise that success alone does not guarantee happiness, nor does happiness require huge achievements. Striving for success without neglecting personal well-being, relationships, and self-care can help create a more harmonious and satisfying life. Balancing the pursuit of external goals with internal contentment and gratitude can lead to a more sustainable and authentic sense of happiness.
To learn more about how contentment can bring happiness, read our article here.
While success is often associated with happiness, the relationship between the two is more complex than a simple cause-and-effect link. Success can bring temporary satisfaction and short-term happiness, but long-lasting happiness requires a holistic approach that encompasses various aspects of life. Personal values, subjective experiences, and the pursuit of goals all play vital roles in finding true fulfilment.
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