What’s your personal definition of happiness and success? – “How To Be Happy” Series (Part 3)


Personal definition of happiness and success

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

So you’ve finally made it. You have money, power, and prestige. Better still, everyone around you is impressed by your success.

Yet, you don’t feel happy. That’s probably how many successful people feel right now. That may even be how you feel right now. That’s probably because you haven’t come up with your personal definition of happiness and success.

These days, “success” is one of the most overused words. The internet is littered with articles and books that go something like this:

  • 10 Things Successful People Do That You Don’t 
  • How to Be Successful in Life
  • 101 Ways to Achieve Success

But what does it even mean to be successful? What is your personal definition of happiness and success? What is happiness to YOU?

Before you continue reading, I’d like you to answer this simple question: What is happiness to you?

Unfortunately, many people spend their lives working towards success only to find that “making it” doesn’t make them any happier. What a waste of time! That’s the last thing I want you to experience.

To download the pdf “12-Week Happiness Challenges” including all the articles click here

What’s your personal definition of happiness and success? 

In today’s society, there’s a widespread definition of success that goes largely unchallenged. Have you ever read an article on success in which the author defined the meaning of success before telling you how to attain it? That’s pretty rare.

When I talk about success, I always start by defining what I mean by it. I don’t want my readers to get the wrong idea.

Success means different things to different people. Your personal definition of success is likely different from mine. For some people, success might mean working for a well-known company and making 6-figures a year. That’s what would make them truly happy.

I once met someone who wanted to work for a big corporation. He seemed to be genuinely excited about it, yet I couldn’t personally understand why anybody would want that kind of job. It seemed like such a loss of freedom to me. As you can see, not everybody has the same goals or personal definitions of success!

My personal definition of success is pretty simple: If you’re happy, then you’re successful. That’s it.

What’s the point of making tons of money or gaining status and influence if you aren’t even happy? It would be ridiculous!

Have you ever considered that your favorite entertainer might be less fulfilled than you are? Yes. It’s extremely possible, if not probable. If people knew how many so-called successful people were unhappy they wouldn’t be so eager to follow in their footsteps.

Instead of looking at celebrities and feeling bad about yourself for your lack of success, why not assume that you’re happier than many of them? How would that make you feel? Wouldn’t that make you more successful than they are?

If you don’t take the time to come up with your personal definition of happiness and success, you may end up wasting a lot of time doing things that you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. What is happiness and success to you?

Society doesn’t care about your happiness

I’ve got some bad news for you: society doesn’t care about your happiness.

Society was never designed to make people happy. It’s designed to ensure that we live in harmony and don’t kill each other. Okay, I have to admit, that certainly plays a role in the happiness we experience each day. I won’t deny that. But it’s still not society’s job to make us happy. We can’t expect that. Society is a bit like our brains, its purpose it to keep us alive. It doesn’t go very far beyond that.

Many things that society expects us to do aren’t necessarily in our best interest. You’re expected to go to school, get good grades, find a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, retire, and die. Do you think the agenda here is to make you happy? None of these things will make you happy in and of themselves.

I don’t understand, I did everything right. I did well in school, I have a great career, I’m married with kids, and everybody keeps telling me how successful I am. So why am I still unhappy?

How often have you heard someone say something like this? People often refuse to take it seriously because they don’t understand how these things could fail to make a person happy.

The reason “success” leaves so many people unhappy is very simple: they started out with incorrect assumptions. They mistakenly believed that society’s rules were in place to make them happy. This belief led them to give their power away to society itself. In essence, they fell for a lie.

Happiness is an inside job and it’s a huge mistake to believe that something or someone else should make you happy.

If they had taken the time to come up with their personal definition of happiness and success, they could have avoided such situations.

Does this mean you should quit your job, avoid getting married, or decide not to have kids?

No. It just means that you shouldn’t expect these things to make you happy on their own. Nor should you expect happiness to be a permanent state when you do achieve it. Even those who are generally happy don’t feel that way all the time. That’s just not how our minds are wired.

What is happiness to you?

Are you clear on your personal definition of happiness? If being successful means being happy, you need to know the answer to this question. Don’t worry about what should make you happy according to society (or anyone else, for that matter). Think only about your own standards.

So, stop asking yourself how you can become more successful or make more money. Instead, ask yourself how you can experience more joy and happiness in your everyday life. That would be a much more powerful question to ask yourself.

Success and happiness aren’t as complicated as we may think. Most truths in life are simple. So simple, in fact, that they can be easily overlooked.

Exercise – What do you need to be happy? 

Your exercise this week is to write down your personal definition of happiness (and success) until you become crystal clear about it. Be as specific as you can.

Rather than writing down everything you need to be happy, try the opposite approach and work your way up. Ask yourself this: If I could choose only one thing that would make me happy, what would it be? If I could choose one more thing besides that, what would it be? And so on and so forth.

So grab a pen and paper and jot down what makes you happy. Knowing your personal definition of happiness will help you take the right decisions and maximize your chances to live a happy life.

In the next article, we’ll go into more detail about the misconceptions people have regarding happiness. I think you’ll find it enlightening. In the meantime, let me know how your happiness exercise goes in the comments section! I’d like to know what your personal definition of happiness and success is.

What is happiness to you?

If you haven’t yet, check out the other articles in the How to Be Happy Series:

  1. Why Am I Not Happy With My Life? (Part 1)
  2. How to Combat Anxiety and Eliminate Problems (Part 2)
  3. What’s your personal definition of happiness and success? (Part 3)
  4. The Psychology Behind Happiness (Part 4)
  5. The Recipe for Happiness: Making It a Priority (Part 5)
  6. The Key to Happiness is Ditching “One Day I Will” (Part 6)
  7. Finding Happiness by Knowing Yourself (Part 7)
  8. The Benefits of Unconditional Giving (Part 8)
  9. Why You Should Stop Being a Consumer and What You Should Do Instead (Part 9)
  10. Progress is Happiness (Part 10)
  11. 7 Tips to be Happy from the Happiest Person in The World (Part 11)


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