“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” Dale Carnegie

This week I posted a photo on Instagram stating that there was no correlation between success and happiness. Someone asked me to explain and it got me thinking…

It depends what you deem success to be. Financial, relationships, sporting achievement, workplace performance, quality of friendships etc.

For the purpose of my post I was referring only to financial success. In Practice Makes Patient I discussed the fact that I used to correlate my own happiness to how well I was doing financially, this was always the path to misery for me.

I see the same principle applied in amateur sport all the time. Every Saturday at golf there are certain players whose week will be ruined if they don’t play to their best. This generally isn’t about golf, it is about them tying their self-worth to golf, because they aren’t happy with other aspects of their lives.

Others value the strength of their marriage above everything. Others get their sense of fulfilment and happiness from their friends.

To me, it seems that there is one common thing that all these people are looking for – validation. To feel good about their lives as a whole.

Self validation and fulfilment leads to happiness.

The problem for many is, excelling at just one area of life probably won’t lead to happiness. Having money on its own for example won’t fix your love life. Just like falling in love won’t solve your money worries.

This is a fascinating subject though because it is so subjective. No one should ever proclaim to have all the answers because there aren’t any. No one can understand what drives every other person on Earth and nobody has been in every possible life situation!

This is why self awareness is so important, to understand who you are and what your drivers are.

Related — The Undeniable Power of Self Awareness

What makes one person happy won’t make another person happy.

Some of the happiest people I’ve met struggle every month to get by, but as a family they have each other and that’s all that matters to them.

Then there are those like the unfortunate billionaire I wrote about in Do You Really Want to be a Billionaire? who was pissed because he only had $2 billion when Larry Page had $18 billion.

Maybe it depends on the opportunities you have had access to and your upbringing?

Where does nature vs nurture come into this?

How does your DNA and life experience to this point impact what will make you happy in the future?

Some people will never live a life that differs from their parents, because they don’t want to. They are happy living on the breadline. But are they happy doing that because their loser parents told them they could never amount to anything?

Others go on to be self-made billionaires. They have an inbuilt nature to excel and they’ve been given the confidence to achieve anything.

So what can you do to be happy…?

I don’t know, that depends on what you value.

But, I strongly believe you can achieve anything you want if you are willing to pay the price which can lead to self validation, fulfilment and ultimately happiness.

This could be something simple like being able to afford better foods or something so ambitious people think you’re crazy.

So can success actually lead to happiness…?

Maybe it can; if you are successful at the things in life that make you feel fulfilled.

No matter what your current situation is, or what you are striving for, we all have the capacity to be happy right now.

Live a grateful life with what you already have, the grass always looks greener but it seldom is. Just look at how many superstars struggle with depression and addictions. Look at how many struggling families are incredibly happy in their communities.

Plan for the future but live in the present.

If you are seeking success to feel validated, then good luck on your quest. Just make sure that you are playing the game for you, not for the approval of others. Know your truths and stick to them.

You only need to impress yourself; you are the judge, jury and executioner of your own life.

-Matthew Brown

Related — How to Live a Grateful Life (a Lesson from a Dark Past)

What makes you happy and what are your secrets? What would you add to this? Leave a comment and keep the discussion going.