Here’s why you don’t feel successful and what you can do about it
“My goal is to be happy and successful” a phrase we are all familiar with, and something we all aspire to be, happy and successful. What does it take to achieve this goal? Are we ever going to achieve it? As Aristotle stated, it is everyone’s goal to achieve eudaimonia (happiness), but what does it mean to be happy? The majority of you would say happiness is a calm state of mind in which everything is going according to plan.
The idea of happiness differs from person to person and that is completely fine. What makes people achieve happiness varies. Some people’s happiness comes in the form of fame and money while others get it from aiding others and spending time with their loved ones. The problem arises when you acquire all the money, all the fame, always helping others and spending time with your loved ones and still feel unhappy.
Sometimes it may feel like the idea of eudaimonia is just a myth. The idea of success is primarily tied to achieving something remarkable, but the problem comes in understanding how can we rate whether something is remarkable or not. What may seem remarkable to one may be unremarkable to the other.
What does it mean to be successful then?
A professor in humanity and philosophy stated that, success is the act of achieving your goal no matter how minor or big. One problem is, we are in our twenties and have achieved a lot of goals. However, most of us still consider ourselves unsuccessful. I asked three individuals to explain what happiness and success mean to them and whether they feel happy or successful. They all agreed that happiness was having peace of mind and stated they are happy. When it came to success, understandably, everyone had a different point of view. Some said success is getting what you envisioned while the others said success is being happy and one person defined success as having an impact on the society. However, they all concluded to not feel successful yet, despite graduating high school and making it into university . I was intrigued by the individual who said: “Success is being happy”. This made me wonder if there is a link between happiness and success. Do we need to be happy to be successful? Who do we need to be to feel successful? Do we need to feel successful before we can feel happy?
Let’s go back to a philosophical view. Let’s take a look at a short story of two gentlemen, John and Martin. John was kicked out of a band. Afterward, he vowed to outperform his former band. He started a new band and made an album (which was a massive commercial success) but it couldn’t outperform the album his former band released. He was saddened by this. Martin got promoted to CEO of an elite company, but he refused the offer cause it meant he wouldn’t have time for his daughter. Instead, he settled to be a teacher at his daughter’s school so he could always be with her. He then became content. John, despite releasing one of the best albums of the year was still unhappy for the sole fact that he never outperformed his old band and because of that, he considers himself unsuccessful. On the other hand, Martin was satisfied to refuse a top job to invest more time with his daughter. He was happy and viewed himself as successful. We may consider John as the successful one but this story proves that successes are dependent on happiness and happiness is subjective.
What makes me happy? My happiness comes from problem-solving. Combating problems secures my internal peace. When I have a problem, I never run from it. Rather, I constantly attempt to solve it. Thrive for happiness and success shall follow.
David is a Malawian creative, tech enthusiast and a start-up founder. When he is not traveling and solving problems, he likes to critically think about things and watch movie analysis. He’s also a co-founder of Pushing 20s magazine.
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