Success or happiness?

“First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes Bertha,

Pushing a baby carriage.”


So goes the long-time children’s tease.

First of all who names their child Bertha in this day and age?

Secondly, this little ditty shows us that there’s a definite process to follow: Love, marriage, baby.

In a perfect world, that’s how it goes.

In another part of the world, we are told that the process is: success precedes happiness.

“Keep your nose to the grindstone, and you’ll get everything you want.”

“What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”

- Margaret Thatcher

Chances are you will get what you want (plus a stubbly little nose!) but will you be happy?

The burgeoning field of Positive Psychology proves that such is not the case. Success, or what we see as success, leads to more nose-grinding.

Think about it…you struggle and fight and sacrifice to lose those 10 lbs. Are you happy? You might give yourself a little pat on the back, before realizing you are still overweigh. 10 more lbs., here I come.

Or you struggle to get good grades in high school to gain entrance into your preferred university to earn that degree that will make you a success. Four or five more years of struggle ensue. And when you walk across that stage you are happy! Or are you? Maybe you are just relieved. Because now you are chasing your Masters in order to succeed, and maybe your doctorate A lot of years have passed, and by any measure you are successful but you are still not happy.

The challenge,when you focus on success as a means to get to happiness, is tough because someone, maybe even you, keeps moving the goal post further out.

Here’s a better way; start with happiness as your goal. Not happiness in the, “Don’t worry, be happy,” vein. Happiness is hard work.

Happiness is loosely defined as the experience of positive emotions, of pleasure combined with purpose.

Not happy? You can change that. In blogs to come we’ll address some of the ‘how’  

Rest assured, that research has shown that happy employees, take less sick time, and are more productive than unhappy employees. Happy doctors make faster, more accurate diagnoses.

Yes we can prove it. There are lot of ways to increase your happiness, and yes it is possible. You can train your brain for positivity.

We’ll address some of the "how’s" next time. In the meantime, get a bandage for your stumpy nose! . 

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Ron Morris