July 15, 2024


The Intersection of Information and Insight

Are You Chasing Success or Happiness?

3 min read

For the next few minutes, I want you to focus on the most successful person you know (and yes, it may be you).

What makes this individual successful in your mind?

Professional accomplishments? Personal wealth?

Now, I want you to think of the happiest person you know.

Did you come up with the same name?


No doubt some of you did.

However, I suspect many more of you ended up with two different people.

We often ignore it, but we live in a world that doesn’t always make it easy for success and happiness to coexist

My sense is that the problem comes back to something fairly basic.

How we currently define success and real happiness overlap very little.

It may seem counter-intuitive.

After all, what successful person wouldn’t be happy? 

But go back over the mental list you made for the individual you consider a success.

How many of your qualifications are connected, at least in part, to owning tangible, material things?

Now, think about the happiest person you know.

What makes them happy?

I’m willing to bet it’s because of their relationships and the things they do, not because of what they have.

But why isn’t there a greater alignment between what we consider success and happiness?

One of the best examples of this disconnect is the greater happiness we feel when we’re living an experience versus buying a possession.

Even though it seems counter-intuitive (e.g., your vacation only lasts a week), people are happier both before and after an experience compared to how they feel after buying a physical product.

Think about how we define success

Very often it comes back to what someone buys and owns.

These visible reminders of success become a measuring stick, and like any measuring stick, it can be hard for some of us to measure up.

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