A hamster on a wheel
Have you noticed that there are always more goals to achieve? As soon as you get that job, your eye is on the next promotion. Setting goals and achieving them is important but waiting to be happy until you’re successful is like chasing butterflies. Like the butterfly just out of reach, there will always be another position, another “it” thing, another vanity measure that you’ll need to achieve.
Chasing that next big thing never allows you to simply be and enjoy what you have. We know that contentment and gratitude are a large part of happiness. When you’re on that hamster wheel, you are focused on what’s next. You’re chasing a dream that may or may not even be truly yours. Do you frequently experience FOMO (fear of missing out)? When you participate in whatever the “thing” is - do you feel happy or are you already looking forward to the next thing?
Happiness breeds success
Philosopher Bertrand Russell said that “The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life.” But he went on: “I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy; I mean that if you are happy you will be good.” If you want to be successful, don’t hang around and wait to find happiness; start there instead.
There’s increasing evidence that happy people tend to be more successful. By focusing on being happy and living life on their terms, they are already successful. Martin Seligman, a pioneer of positive psychology proposes that happiness has three dimensions that can be cultivated: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and the Meaningful Life. What are your greatest strengths? Think of that as your superpower and use it in your relationships and social interactions. This enhances our sense of fulfillment by contributing to something more than ourselves.
Choosing happiness in your current circumstances creates greater self-confidence. You will act and talk like you’ve already made it. And that sort of confidence is contagious and inspiring. Simply by choosing to be happy you have a competitive edge!
Success is what you make it
Ask ten people for their definition of success, and you’ll get ten different answers. For some people, it is the consumer dream of an executive job, a fancy car, and a big house. For others, it will be the freedom to travel or paint or write or own their own business. For example: Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, believes success is engagement. Poet and author Maya Angelou believes success is enjoying your work, and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says success is living in line with your values.
Probably the most important decision you’ll make is to define what success means for you. And the most meaningful success is to choose what makes you happy. What is your passion? What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning? Remember happiness is a mindset. It is not a destination. “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” — Dale Carnegie
It’s up to you to decide what is going to make you happy. It’s still okay to want to have the trappings of success but think about why you want them. Chances are it’s the feeling you want rather than the thing itself. If you think making more money will make you feel secure, or enable you to travel or support your favorite cause, maybe there are other ways you can do those things right now? Maybe you can volunteer for your charity, or choose cheaper vacation options, or start a savings plan.
There’s no need to delay being happy until you’ve reached a level of material success. You can choose to be happy right now and find contentment in the things that already make you feel good!
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