Imagine…you’ve catapulted yourself to the top of your organization and reached the pinnacle of success. You own a luxurious house, take lavish vacations, and socialize with the rich and famous –– most people would give anything to walk in your shoes. But even though you’ve achieved success beyond your wildest dreams, have you found happiness?
Some people assume that achieving greater success or accumulating material wealth automatically leads to happiness, but nothing can be further from the truth. Think of the parent who trades family time to impress his or her boss; the high-achiever who forfeits his social life to advance his career; the businessperson who sells her soul to close the deal; the family who buys things they don’t need (with money they don’t have) just to impress their friends.
While buying an expensive house, closing a deal, or securing a promotion can provide satisfaction, these achievements often deliver only temporary happiness. In fact, many people pause only briefly after reaching a goal…before setting their eyes on the next prize. The truth is, many people are never really happy unless they are winning, and when the winning stops…well, you guessed it…like an addiction, they need (or should I say, want) more.
The truth is, we place artificial demands on ourselves that undermine our happiness. These demands force us to work harder and harder to cross a finish line that keeps moving. Contrast this lifestyle with a life that’s rich in purpose and in making a difference in others’ lives. The bottom line: Happiness is a byproduct of a life well lived. How does that make you feel?
The Gap Between Success and Happiness
As I said, striving for material abundance won’t create lasting happiness as much as leading a meaningful life will. Here’s a test to show how your motivations (drivers) impact your decisions, your friendships, your life. Which are you, a success-seeker or a happiness-hunter? You may be surprised.
|Securing wealth, power and fame.||Purpose||Being rich in character and enjoying good health, meaningful relationships, and peace of mind|
|More is always better||Rewards||Enjoying the journey and achieving life balance|
|Outdoing your neighbor||Satisfaction||Being content with what you have and delighting in the happiness of others|
|Gaining approval from others||Recognition||Maintaining self-respect|
|Taking care of “number one”||Mindset||Being selfless, reflective, and humble|
|Acting in your own self-interest||Priorities||Making a difference in others’ lives|
|Winning at any cost||Goal||Doing things the “right way” and having a clear conscience|
|Having many acquaintances or shallow friendships||Relationships||Enjoying quality relationships|
|Obsessed with material possessions||Focus||Keeping good karma front and center|
Live Happily Ever After
Some people spend their entire life searching for happiness. In fact, all the riches in the world won’t give that to you. One day you’re going to chuckle at all the things that once seemed so important to you –– many of them will seem so trivial.
Here’s what else you may find. You’ll ask yourself, “Am I a good person, rich in character, or am I driven merely by a quest for status?” You’ll care not only where life has taken you, but also about how you got there. You’ll want to be remembered for what you gave back rather than the wealth you’ve accumulated. And you’ll relish knowing that you found your purpose in life and did your part in making the world a better place.
The bottom line is, you don’t have to search the globe for happiness because it already exists within yourself. As Glinda, the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, said, “You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.” If most answers seem obvious in retrospect, maybe we’re not spending enough time searching for the obvious. Success may be temporary, but happiness is forever.