Trading Success for Happiness

Words are funny.

They can build you up, or tare you down. They can inspire or desolate your passion. One saying can be a savior to someone while easily forgotten by another. Why?

Interpretation.

We each take a word, or many words, and internally interpret what they mean to us. Likewise, the people who are telling you things can twist and change what they’re saying to mean what they want it to mean. To make you believe something possibly terrible could be good or visa-versa.

What could this possibly have to do with finding a career?

Everything.

Most people I’ve encountered in the world have a fairly universal sense of what success is.

Success = Money
Success = Fame
Success = Power

I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong.

While interviewing individuals across all walks of life, from different countries, backgrounds, education, I’ve come to find that success only is equal to one thing:

Success = Happiness

Do some people want money/fame/power to be happy? Sure. But about half of them don’t and they’re still successful.

So many of us have gotten caught in a trap of obtaining, then maintaining success, that we’ve lost what it actually means. As the market can show, people will run toward job security and money over passion. (I mean just look at the boom in programmers. You cannot convince me that all those Computer Science majors love programming. Hell, I did this myself until I realized I wouldn’t sacrifice being happy so that I could have a career in something I hated, so I changed my major).

I don’t blame anyone who does this. I don’t judge. I get it. 

You’ve been told your whole life what success should be.

Words may not be physically painful, but they can change your whole future. A kid who loves to work on cars gets told once that it isn’t a viable career choice, that they can’t be successful because there’s no money in it, and their whole life changes as they try to chase something else. Something their peers will recognize as good enough.

Everyone is trying to be “good enough”. They try to downplay what they love or what they’re good at because they’ve been told the same things you have about success. Everyone playing that game is just trying to be better than everyone else, so no one is ever good enough. Once you stop participating, you can truly find success.

The world takes all kinds.

I’ve said this so much and it is so cliche, but it’s the truth. We need people who work on cars. We need programmers. We need builders and executives and floor workers. We need passions in Science and Health and Manufacturing. Our society does not run if we all feel the same things. If no one wants to get dirty, we lose. If no one wants to sit in front of a computer, we lose. And I’ve come to find that happiness is the only currency that matters when you truly find success.

Happiness is where you do not need to compromise your values to feel like you are contributing to society. It’s where the important things to you are easily found and gratitude wakes up with you every morning.

Here’s where I give you permission to seek this out. Where I tell you, you truly can do or be, anything. If something brings you joy or purpose, pursue it. If you feel in your heart that something is just, right, do it. True success is something you determine for yourself. Once you do, your life will fall in accordingly.

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