Defining Success and Happiness – On Your Own Terms

Inspiration, Motivational

The following is a guest post I’m happy to publish from Kat Sanders. It’s subject involves something that’s high on everyone’s list: Happiness. Enjoy!

How to Be Happy - First Define Happiness

I recently attended a high school reunion 15 years after graduating. I was meeting most of my classmates for the first time in a decade and a half, so I was really surprised that I was able to connect with most of them really well. Another fact that really surprised me was the level of success each one had achieved – most of them had given up cushy corporate jobs and fat salaries to set up their own consultancies, simply because they were not satisfied in their positions. Some of them had moved back to their smaller hometowns leaving behind the hustle and bustle of the cities, even though there were fewer amenities and less of a social life back home.

This taught me something about my erstwhile classmates – they did not define success on terms set by society and other people; they created their own definition of the term, one that gave them peace, satisfaction and happiness. We live in a world where we’re expected to adhere to certain norms and standards; we’re supposed to meet certain expectations in order to be declared a success; we’re judged according to standards set by people who think they matter. So it’s a matter of pride to do well at school, graduate as your high school valedictorian, gain admission to an Ivy League school, and secure a position with a firm that pays the big bucks and offers a great deal of esteem.

If you take an alternative path, you’re pitied or looked down upon, unless you achieve worldwide success that is. An artist, writer or sportsperson who aspires to take the road less traveled does not gain recognition or support unless they become renowned in the field they’ve chosen. The point I’m trying to make here is that your personal happiness is linked inextricably with your idea of success. So if you define success by society’s or your parents’ (or anyone else’s) standards, you’re never going to be happy unless you reach those standards. And though your heart may lie elsewhere, you’re going to ruin your life by trying to achieve something that’s beyond your reach, just because you think that that’s what success is.

The best and shortest way to happiness and personal satisfaction is to love what you do. And if that’s not possible, then try and do what you do love, even if it does not pay as much, even if it’s not associated with as much prestige as the job you do have now. So if you wear a suit and tie to the office each day, if you spend hours in meetings with clients who pay your firm millions in fees each year, you’re likely to have a bank account that’s rich with money. But if your heart is out in the open, if you want to paint nature and experience the outdoors and the wild, you’re likely to have an emotional account that’s poor with satisfaction.

It’s true that you can’t buy happiness even if you have all the money in the world. And it’s also true that you cannot live on happiness alone. So the ultimate key to happiness and living a good life is to achieve a perfect balance, one that’s just right between your bank account and your emotional account.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of surgical tech schools at her blog iScrub. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

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