Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do Success and Happiness Go Hand In Hand?

Success and happiness are two concepts that are very hard to define. They are totally subjective, and can mean very different things to different people. As a starting point, here are some dictionary definitions (courtesy of

success: (n.)

  1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
  2. a) The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success. b) The extent of such gain.
happiness (n.)
  1. The quality or state of being happy.
  2. Good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
Okay, thanks dictionary, but now I want to know what these things mean to real people. Among others, the question that's been on my mind is the title of this post: Do success and happiness go hand in hand?

A simple example for myself: this blog. I consider this blog a success. I am achieving the goals I set for myself when I started writing here. Just yesterday, my counter reached 1000 views, and my posts have been recognized by some awesome fellow bloggers in the form of contest wins and guest posts. The other day, after reading my post about "The Quiet Girl in the Corner," one of my co-workers told me that my writing really makes people think. That's one of the greatest compliments she could have given me because that's exactly why I write. When someone comments on one of my posts and tells me how much they enjoyed reading it, that they've had a similar experience, or that they'd never considered some of the points I brought up and my post really touched them, I am happy. In this case, success leads to happiness for me.

There a lot of times when succeeding at something makes me happy, but that doesn't mean that I need to be successful in order to be happy. The people in my life make me happy, picturing the beach brings happy, peaceful thoughts to my head, and I am happy and proud of the person I have become. Sometimes, other people's success leads to my happiness, like a victory for one of my sports teams or hearing good news about a friend or family member. I have also experienced plenty of unhappy things that had nothing to do with my success or lack there of, and I know that there are many people who appear successful to the outside world, but are actually unhappy.

So, how do you define success and happiness? Do they go hand in hand? How can people be successful and unhappy, or unsuccessful and happy for that matter? Are we, as a society, too consumed with success? I'd love to hear your opinions.

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