I hung out with some of my friends this weekend. It wasn’t anything special or extravagant. All we did was eat breakfast, watch a movie, eat lunch and then we basically just talked about nothing and everything for the rest of the day. It felt very natural and unforced to basically do what I wanted with the people I felt comfortable with. I didn’t feel stressed, or pressured to perform nor did I feel judged. This might sound like an exaggeration, but I honestly felt completely happy that day.
This got me thinking about the complicated relationship between success and happiness. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if I could basically do this for a living. To just be yourself and do things that you like in order to sustain yourself and be essentially, successful. However, I started thinking about the requirements of a successful AND happy life.
Often times success and happiness do not mix well because, simply speaking, success is the desire to get more. Happiness is the state of being content with what you have i.e. not wanting more – which seems to be the complete opposite of a successful mindset. Not to mention, when you are attempting to be successful, you will feel the pressure and judgement based on how good you are at doing your job.
If my career was hanging out with my friends I will suddenly feel the pressure to “hang out better.” I would start thinking, “Hey I should start smiling bigger, so my friends like me better,” or “Hey I should maybe do cartwheels whenever I enter the room,” or “Maybe I should wear a whacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man hat all day everyday.” All of a sudden, hanging out with friends becomes a lot more stressful.
Making a quick judgement, success appears to be the antithesis of happiness. But then I realized that success was not the problem but what I considered to be “success.” Many people including me have the wrong image of success in their minds. It is not exactly all our fault, but in part due to the dominant portrayal of success in media. Recently, successful individuals have been portrayed as people who throw money at everything, buy sports cars, have parties and do whatever “rich people” do because they have an excess of money.
That image could not be farther from the truth, the majority of successful people are people who live quite a simple lifestyle. To the untrained eye, rich individuals are merely buying expensive things when in fact they are buying the types of assets that appreciate in value. The resources they attain (money and connections) allow them to experience the things that matter to them more because they have the financial freedom to do so. True successful people are basically happy individuals who are not as heavily bound by financial burdens.
They do not participate in unneeded luxuries just for the heck of it because if that was how they were in the first place, then they would not be where they are. This might be hard to believe, but successful individuals live within their means. To them purchasing a bmw is similar to us purchasing a big mac just for the heck of it. If we purchase a car simply because it makes us feels good would equal to them purchasing an 100 million dollars worth of land that depreciates in value. Despite their humongous amount of wealth, true successful people live within their means. In the article 15 Frugal Billionaires Who Live Like Regular People, Warren Buffet is said to still live in his 31 thousand dollar home he bought 50 years ago, and he never actually bought his own yacht but rents it.
With careful inspection one comes to the eventual realization that success and happiness are heavily intertwined. I am not really an expert on success, nor have I attained success worth bragging about. But what I have certainly attained is happiness. I might sound like a braggart, but I’m saying that statement with all honesty, not out a superiority complex. In the past, I have attained some degree of success in my career. It was very good money but I quit it because I did not feel happy with it. Thinking back, I feel that it was the right decision because if you do not have passion for your career, you will inevitably fail. To some degree I now I have learned from that experience and with the I have come to the conclusion that there are three things that predict success and happiness.
THE 3 THINGS THE PREDICT SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS
This is the most important aspect of being successful and the most important aspect of being happy. Think of it this way. Would you be able to dedicated your life to something that you do not love? The answer would be no. This is where happiness and success work hand in hand. If you love something, you would want to do it for the rest of your life, if you dedicated your life to something success is inevitable.
Get lost in your field like a mad scientist! I had a friend who was really into photography, but never had the money to buy a dslr camera. When my friend let her borrow her camera, her hands were literally shaking. She could not the camera steady even while taking photos. The resulting photos were hilariously blurry. However, I just witnessed an amazing display of pure passion. You need to get lost in the science of your field. Let everything thing about it amaze you and surrender yourself to it. Many times people lose their motivation by temporary failures, meanwhile “mad scientist” are too busy enjoying the entire experience to be distracted by superficial failures. Failure is temporary, passion is the key.
Get involved with people who are interested in the same field. Have friends, invite them out, your natural interest in the same thing will naturally gravitate you towards each other and help all of you gain a deeper understanding of your field. The more people you help, the bigger the community becomes. In a community, the success of one is the success of everyone, not to mention it is way more fun and way more rewarding.
If you want a more logical explanation, meeting people within the same field increases the efficiency by which you improve in your field. We are social creatures, no matter how long to try to avoid it, you will eventually crave for some social interaction. Networking allows you to satisfy that need while attaining certain goals within your field. It’s killing two birds with one stone. Not only does it do that it also increases your emotional involvement your field. For example a person who attended yoga class but does not know any people who does yoga will be more likely to take it for granted versus the person who attends yoga class and has her entire circle of friends practicing yoga seriously. Whichever way you look at it works, but I personally prefer the first one. Seeing friends as mere methods to attain a goal is quite a cold way of looking at networking and will certainly not help you become a happier person.
These are just some of my thoughts concerning success and happiness. Take it with a grain of salt since each of us are different people and different people have different existential outlooks. You may have your own way of achieving success and happiness and I would certainly like to hear it in the comment section below. Part of improving is experimenting and keeping an open mind so it would not hurt to try this list. I think the overall concept I am trying to convey here is that true success is the byproduct of true happiness, so try to be a happier person and get out there and share your ideas with the world.