It’s a dreary, rainy day. You step out onto the porch and sit on the swing that is swaying gently in the corner. Your spouse is inside with the kids giving them baths, freeing you up for a few precious moments to yourself. Times like these don’t come often because of the hustle and bustle of everyday life with a family and career. Your mind starts to wander with the pitter patter sound ringing in your ears as the rain drops throw themselves on to the white, chipped railing of the porch. You begin thinking about life and where it has brought you. A smile folds across your heart knowing that you are exactly where you want to be and doing exactly what you want to be doing. Being a stay at home parent may not be the best paying or sought after job, but it is something you enjoy doing every day. You are happy.
When approached by a student from the local community college doing a survey for one of their classes, they asked if you would consider yourself “successful”. You think about it for a moment and say “Yes”. “What makes you a successful person?” they inquire. Without even taking a moment to think you begin to explain your story. Growing up was tough. You were moved around a lot between foster parents because your drug addict parents couldn’t get it together. They were high school drop outs that never made anything of themselves, but you have a family that is happy and healthy, you have a job that pays the bills, and most of all you are happy and content with where life has brought you.
A wise man once said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.” In this essay I will seek to compare and contrast success and happiness and the impact they have in life.
True success cannot be achieved without happiness, though it is possible to have success without happiness. Happiness is being content with were life has brought you understanding that “life is like a box a chocolates” you never really know what life is going to throw at you. When a person is truly happy they usually have the understanding that everything doesn’t always work out the way that they may have wanted it to. They are adaptable to change.
Society defines “success” as doing what is necessary to climb up the ladder in the corporate business world and can be displayed through large paychecks and material possessions. We are exposed to that image daily on TV; which does a great job of putting the image of the big guy stepping on the little guy doing whatever is necessary for a promotion. Random House dictionary defines success as “a favorable outcome”. To me a favorable outcome doesn’t necessarily mean you have the big paychecks. It is taking your goals and dreams in life and actually accomplishing them. Living life to the fullest; getting the most out of it you can, which is where happiness comes into play.
“Happiness is the key to success.” What good is success without being happy? Too often the “successful” people of our society are pretty miserable people to look at. They have let their success over take them and run their lives. We see it too often on TV where a successful business person, in shows like Criminal Minds, CSI, Law & Order, among many others, losing their family because they became so consumed in their work that they have forgotten their family and those around them. Success is worthless if you can’t enjoy it with those around you. Happiness should be a major part of the foundation of a “successful” person.
Success does not define a person’s happiness therefore happiness can most definitely be obtained without being “successful”. It is a necessary cornerstone to success that a majority of people overlook. A successful person without happiness in their life will always have a void in their soul that cannot be filled with a companion, security, money, an expense account, or top of the line merchandise. That void can only be filled with contentment. On the other hand, a happy person does not have to be successful to feel great and enjoy life. That’s not to say that they aren’t successful. It means that success is not running life; it doesn’t define them as a person. Success is just an added luxury that can be enjoyed in knowing you are happy.
You can live every day of your life having all the money and things a person could ever want, but without happiness they really are worthless. We see it too often on the news about depression and weight-gain being on the rise. So many want answers as to what is wrong with them and often over indulge in their area of weakness; whether that is food or shopping or whatever. Their problem is that they have their lives focused on the wrong things.
I believe that in my life I am successful. I am a stay at home mother and a full time student. I don’t work outside the home, but that doesn’t mean I am not successful. I am happy where life has brought me and my success is in accomplishing my goals in life. It is defined by working with my kids and teaching them that there is more to life then getting for themselves. It’s about taking the opportunities within the community to do the better good. Helping those all around us. When taking the time to think about happiness and success I have come to the conclusion that happiness is what really determines a person’s success.