Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Success versus Happiness

One of the challenges for those who like to achieve is reconciling success and happiness. Most contemporary success formulas, science or systems have an element of drive or doing. Most of the happiness schools of thought talk about being present and living in the moment and being.

This creates a clash...or does it?

Success requires a sense of urgency, a drive to complete a need to fulfill. Indeed it often places satisfaction or happiness in the future somewhere. When we achieve x we will be truly happy.

Happiness on the other hand requires a sense of satisfaction, completeness and being. There is nothing to achieve as you have it all around you.

And that's the challenge when you set them up in opposition, you get lost in either domain.
It's not an either/or proposition, it's an and/also one. It's about walking and chewing gum. Set the goals and intent but then let go and enjoy the process you put in place.

The key idea to mesh these two worlds is to study or consider manifestation as an idea. It's about intent and action. Or put another way, you can pray as much as you like but you have to move your feet as well.


Matt Church


  1. Ahhh Matt, It;s not an either/ or proposition, it;s an and/also one. Thats why they pay you the big bucks!

    Love your work and/also your rest.

  2. Hi Matt
    The pursuit of happiness is, I think, very much over rated. Is it me, or does this activity seem to be quite self-indulgent? Often it gives rise to self-destructive behaviour - such as comfort eating, drug taking, excessive drinking, taking of anti-depressants - as the quick fix for 'unhappiness' as being something 'wrong' with us.

    I feel we need to get away from the idea that happiness should be an end result of success. Surely the emotions of fulfilment, love and gratitude, amongst others - the true End Game from which nothing else can be derived - should be held in much higher esteem?

    Indeed, fulfilment often requires hardship, persistence and pain, sometimes over a long period of time. Happiness in these cases can often be fleeting, as Will Smith's character in The Pursuit of Happiness discovered, but not what succeeding in the Game of Life is really all about.

    Great blog - keep 'em coming!

  3. Happiness lies somewhere between contentment and joy. I have seen happiness defined as hope. So it has more to do with anticipation than 'living in the moment' (which is closer to contentment). As a woman I think men set too much store on success and not enough on happiness. Women generally have lower expectations of their own success as they become accustomed to putting others first...while the male ego survives & thrives on success. I think you need to be happy to be successful, that being more happy than not IS to be successful.

  4. Or perhaps one of the keys to happiness is defining your own version of success? I came across Ralph Waldo Emerson's 'what is success' a few years back: "to laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better whether by a child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived." If we define our own life success, broadly, then wouldn't success and happiness co-exist, happily?
    Anita K

  5. Very useful succint summary Matt.

    A few years ago as I contemplated this issue a life coach suggested to me to "savour the taste in the mouth". The saying has stuck with me as a reminder to enjoy the journey as well as being ambitious.