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Success or Happiness? The Ultimate Choice

Do You Want Success or Happiness?

This week’s blog is based on an email that I received from Robert Middleton. Robert is a marketing expert based in California who, for several years now, has sent me emails and is abundant with marketing information. Last week he sent me a piece that I found interesting, and with his kind permission, I thought I would share it with you.

Robert notes that the vast majority of people want success and happiness. And our culture encourages us to search for both. Well, what if it was easier than that? What if you didn’t need to seek either?

Let me ask you: do you want success or happiness? For Robert being successful means getting what you want, whereas being happy means wanting what you get. So, which is preferable to you and which is possible?

Wanting what you want is perfectly normal, natural. Wants arise based on a multitude of things. And wants then turn into intentions and that put a process of achievement into motion.

Now, sometimes that process leads to the results you envisioned. Sometimes it doesn’t. Ultimately, you don’t have total control over the results, or outcomes you get. However, with repetition, practice, failures, and small successes you will tend to realize larger successes. For the most part success takes work and it takes time.

Being happy is quite a different game. It is simply wanting what you get, realizing you don’t have ultimate control over what you get. 

So, a want arises and you set an intention and you go to work in the direction of your goal. There is a chance that you won’t hit your goal the first time; I wish we did. This is not necessarily a problem; it’s the way things work out sometimes.

Success or Happiness

Human Development: Failure on the Path to Success

My wife and I have just become grandparents for the first time. We have a lovely granddaughter called Cara Louise. Like all grandparents, we have high hopes for her in her future life and we can’t wait for her first words and her first steps. 

The thing is that the first time a baby tries to walk they don’t succeed. In fact, they fall down over and over and over again. But this is not a problem for the baby. This is how learning how to walk usually works. In fact, it’s probably more of a problem for the parent!

The baby is undeterred. They have no concept of failure and they make another attempt, and another. And they will usually get encouragement from their parents.

And before too long, they are standing and walking, and then running, skipping, and jumping. They are experiencing both success and happiness. They are getting what they want and wanting what they get.

But as life goes on, things get harder, more complex. Success seems to become more elusive. Failures seem to become more frequent. However, this is not a problem unless the failures are seen as a problem.

Some people tell themselves that “I’m not getting what I want. That’s a problem. Therefore, I’m unhappy, I’m miserable. I’m not OK that I’m not as successful as I think I should be.”

If this sounds like you, for some reason you have convinced yourself that failure is a problem. Perhaps you learned this from someone else who might have told you: “You must succeed at this or you are not OK.”

Turning Failure into Growth and happiness

This isn’t inherently true, but if you believe it to be true you will suffer and feel bad about your failure. But you can reframe the situation and see your failure differently. You could choose to believe that when you fail, you learn. You learn what doesn’t work. What a wonderful thing to learn!

Sure, you want to succeed. You want to get what you want. But failing to get what you want is clearly part of getting what you want. So, whatever it is you get, it is also what you want.

And your goal shifts from getting rewards to growing… by going for what you want. The rewards still come, but you are now happy in the process.

When you want what you get you might also tend to get more of what you want. But it’s OK when you don’t get it. If this happens, well you just try something else.

Robert argues that this is a natural process. It doesn’t take any effort. It doesn’t mean anything if you succeed or fail. What’s true is that you always get exactly what you get.

So, as Robert asks, what do you want: success or happiness? Why not have both. Why not experience both because Robert argues that they are ultimately the same thing.

You can find out more about Robert Middleton by visiting his website here.

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